I am certain that many of you are experiencing the end of the year ‘throw in the towel’ blues at the moment. It’s been a long one, full of ups and downs. The struggle has been real. But there’s one more hurdle to overcome from a consumer point of view: the big festive season shop. The question is, what will it look like this year and how can we make sure we benefit?
During the Covid Christmas period in 2020, South Africa was in the middle of a retail downturn and the Christmas sales reflected that. On average there was a 12.5% decrease in sales compared to 2019. If history repeats itself, retailers are in for a very bleak festive season. However, Black Friday’s performance has been better than previous years, but it isn’t the brick-and-mortar stores that will benefit from these changes. The upswing in sales came mostly from the online space.
New behaviour is here to stay
There has been a split opinion about post-lockdown behaviour. During the worst of lockdown, many were forced into the online space to make not only their big-ticket purchases, but also their grocery purchases. For some consumers, this behaviour became solidified as retailers rose to the occasion by sharpening up their customer experiences. Others believed that people would revert back to their old ways, but the reality is quite different. The behaviour has stuck.
Get on ecommerce now
There is an obvious takeaway – if you’re not selling your goods on ecommerce, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity. There is a not so obvious takeaway. Internationally, consumers are looking for consolidated shopping experiences. The reason for the popularity of platforms like Amazon, is that there is an exceptionally broad range of products. Consumers can visit a single website and have access to a vast number of product categories. Coupled with Amazon’s Alexa, repeat purchases are a breeze. Consumers are locked into repeat buying, and they don’t mind because it frees up time and is almost the definition of convenience.
We’re experiencing a very similar trend rising here with our very own Takealot. You don’t need to build your own ecommerce enabled site, and even if you have, it’ll serve you well to make sure that your products are available on the big product aggregator sites.
Social shopping – a viable alternative
Social shopping is also seeing rapid growth. There are a few reasons for this:
- 1. The social aggregator. As I mentioned earlier, the consumer is moving more and more to single space shopping platforms. There is no better single space shopping platform than social media.
- 2. The recommendation factor. Consumers have lost all trust in brand messaging (and I don’t say that lightly); and are now looking to friends and family for product recommendations. Social media is primed for these kinds of recommendations, and these social shopping integrations bring social marketing and retail one step closer together.
- 3. Attribution. One of the big conundrums with social advertising has been the conversion conversation. For marketers, social media is seen as a set of awareness platforms. Social shopping makes clear attribution reporting possible on platforms like Facebook.
Bottom-line, behaviours have changed. We need to change with them. While you may not be ready for this festive season, make sure 2022 doesn’t have you relying solely on your physical store.
If you don’t have your own ecommerce site, make sure that your products are available on the big product aggregator sites; and invest in social commerce – it’s the next big thing.
*This article originally appeared on Retailing Africa
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