2020 will be always remembered as a year of uncertainties in the business world. Having to adjust to the new normal meant people transitioned most physical activity like shopping, movies, eating out, and work into their digital avatars to cope with government regulations on movement.
The retail sector realized that without a focus on digital, they will not be able to sustain their business. The sense extended even beyond the current pandemic as the possibility emerged that such disruptions and healthcare scares could spring up any day in the future too.
From small grocery stores using messaging apps to collect orders and deliver goods to their customers to a rising number of stores deploying e-commerce websites and online shopping apps, 2020 saw a phenomenal acceleration of digital penetration in the sector.
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COVID 19 became a catalyst for driving faster adoption of digital tech across the industry. e-commerce boomed like never before. And the icing on the cake was Cyber Monday that happened on the 30th of November 2020. All previous records were shattered on this day as US shoppers spent approximately 15.1% more money than in 2019 with sales topping at USD 10.8 billion at the close of the day.
But will 2021 be different?
The answer is yes and, possibly, hugely so.
As of the first few weeks of 2021, the world is slowly showing signs of limping back to normalcy. Vaccination drives are in progress in almost every country. In the US alone, studies predict that normalcy could return to life with a significant milestone in vaccination administration expected towards the end of 2021. In most countries, opinion polls and surveys suggest that the new normal will continue to co-exist with earlier habits as some traits people cultivated during the pandemic stick around. A shift to e-commerce is definitely amongst those trends likely to survive.
In this context, retailers will see a hugely different and blended mode of commerce. This will take shape in 2021 reflecting in surging sales volumes during peak holiday events such as Cyber Monday. A host of other factors combined with this can make Cyber Monday 2021 extremely different than what we saw in 2020.
Here are the top 3 likely outcomes:
Smarter Consumer Spends
In the first quarter of 2020 alone, nearly 9% of US consumers made their first purchase online. Also, a lot of customers were trying out new retailers that could handle their needs while ensuring the safety of the shipment and the people delivering the same. However, in 2021, there will be more informed buying choices from customers from people accustomed to the nuances and tactics played out in the e-commerce space.
Those first-time buyers in 2020 will become savvier. They will keep an eye out for comparisons on offers and deals offered. They will be more digitally literate and aware of how to optimize their spends and not fall for easy marketing gimmicks. Competition too will be huge as more businesses will learn to sell smarter through digital platforms by the time Cyber Monday 2021 sets in.
In 2021, there will be an onslaught of new retail purchase points that blend online and physical shopping experiences. Some people may buy goods only online while some may prefer going back to their good old days of strolling inside stores and malls for their shopping. Some may even opt for a combination of these for different categories of purchases. Retailers may have to open new avenues of digital sales as well as smaller physical stores closer to consumers to satisfy their diverse needs. The demand for contactless shopping experiences could drive up the number of smart digital outlets like Amazon Go.
Such stores could run their Cyber Monday 2021 shopping extravaganza through a fully-fledged e-commerce website or through a dedicated mobile app or even through Facebook, WhatsApp, or other social media platforms integrated with smart shopping apps or subscription platforms. The key point to focus on here is the omnichannel experience. The pressure will be on retailers to ensure a unified, consistent, powerful omnichannel experience for customers that prevents them from seeking alternatives
As consumers turn smarter in their digital choices, retailers will have to think out of the box to come up with creative offerings that will drive festive sales. During the 2020 holiday season, nearly 60% of retailers faced hiccups in their logistics and distribution mechanisms largely due to the sheer rise in the volume of orders coupled with the availability of minimal staff and constrained technology. For Cyber Monday 2021, brands will on-board powerful new technology tools. They will look to prop up their marketing efforts. Improving supply chain and logistics system to prevent delays and providing customer visibility will become important. Retailers will use intelligent customer analytics to build smart recommendation engines to sell the right products at the right time with the best margins for all parties. They will look to replatform their eCommerce sites to create new digital storefronts that provide the enhanced digital experience their customers want while still be secure, fast, and flexible.
There’s little doubt that Cyber Monday 2021 will be significantly different from the pandemic stricken 2020 season. Brands that want to succeed will go all out in bolstering their digital infrastructure to cope with market demands and consumers will exercise more control over their choices of online and physical store experiences. The future looks very promising and the numbers of 2020 look set to be overpowered in 2021. That should be great news for all retail brands!