It’s hard to believe we’re already past the half-year mark in 2021. Although the sun is currently shining bright, autumn will soon set in, and before you know it, the 2021 holiday shopping season will be here. Given the volatility and uncertainty in the business world today, chances that you are already focusing your energy on revolutionizing your B2B/B2C customer experience across online and offline channels. For all retailers and brands, that’s become the priority in the face of significant changes in buyer behavior. But it may be time to look at other priorities too.
If you want to lead the experience economy and truly make a difference in the upcoming holiday shopping season, you have to offer new ways and means for your customers to engage with your brands. You need to constantly delight them through a profound digital transformation of the customer experience – across channels and covering their entire buyer journey.
With the total US holiday retail sales expected to touch $1.093 trillion in 2021, it’s fair to say that a successful 2021 holiday shopping season can be the making (or breaking) of a pandemic-hit brand’s long-term fortunes. On that quest, here’s a comprehensive look at the top technologies that will drive the 2021 holiday shopping season:
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- Analytics: To deliver shopping experiences that meet (and exceed) the growing expectations of customers, businesses will need to up their analytics game even more than is the case now. They will need to deeply understand the needs, wants, and subtle preferences of their customers. Since customer experience is the primary strategic driver for success, especially in the extremely busy holiday season, using customer insights as a strategic tool across Marketing, Sales, and Customer Operations is now critical to boosting the bottom line. Right from customer journey mapping and market mix modeling to campaign optimization, lead prioritization, sales forecasting, inventory optimization, and more – organizations will have to make the best use of modern customer analytics platforms and methods to deliver personalized and meaningful experiences to customers across platforms.
- IoT: In the upcoming holiday shopping season, IoT looks set to play a huge role in ensuring efficient operations and timely deliveries. Through constant monitoring of devices and equipment in the supply chain, IoT devices can help in detecting issues, maintaining throughput, and minimizing risk. Live location tracking via GPS sensors can help in monitoring the locations of trucks and other assets and ensuring timely customer deliveries and return. At the same time, the technology can be used to improve transparency in processes via real-time visibility, allowing businesses to more efficiently manage inventories and respond faster to customer needs. A key amplifier of the power of IoT will be the ability of retailers to integrate several backend systems like ERPs together to always provide a consolidated and transparent view of operations.
- Mobile: Digital shopping continues to dominate the retail scene. Digital is estimated to account for 9% of 2021 holiday season retail sales. There is enough reason for brands to leverage the latest trends in mobile technology to support their customers. Right from innovative mobile apps to responsive and mobile-friendly websites – in the 2021 holiday shopping season, companies will have to focus on easy search functionality, fast load speeds, and a convenient and secure checkout process for maximum sales. The need to launch highly functional apps fast will make app development technologies like Progressive Web Apps extremely popular.
- RPA: Responding quickly to customer needs during the holidays is not easy; with so many products being offered, and so many customers simultaneously surfing through those products, RPA will help a great deal in shortening lead times by automating processes. By automating mundane, error-prone, and repetitive processes, RPA can allow retailers to more quickly bring processes to closure – right from improving collaboration between various departments to monitoring changes in customer behavior, staying in alignment with the latest trends to responding to customer queries via bots. RPA promises to help retailers to optimize inventory management efforts, accelerate efficient customer service, and process and fulfill orders faster. Taken together, that will help embellish the customer experience.
- Blockchain: The 2021 holiday shopping season will also witness a rise in the adoption of blockchain technology across the supply chain – making it as transparent and tamper-proof as possible. By allowing stakeholders to securely store and share digital assets, blockchain will make retail transactions safer and faster. This decentralized, distributed ledger technology will not only ensure the security of millions of online users; it will also set the foundation of data security and integrity via smart contracts, so sensitive business and customer data is always protected.
The 2021 holiday season will be a turning point in online retail. Many retailers see this as the perfect chance to make dramatic moves to enhance the buyer experience, accommodate growth, and drive unparalleled sales. But the season comes with ultra-high stakes for many retailers. Those who can keep up with the surging demand will continue on their growth path. Those who can’t, unfortunately, will end up struggling for positive outcomes!
With the 2021 holiday shopping season around the corner, the possibilities for business excellence are endless. Brands looking to keep up with constantly evolving customer expectations need to integrate modern technological innovations into the DNA of their businesses and deliver unmatched levels of personalization and value. Are you ready to get ahead of the curve and ring in the upcoming holiday shopping season with a bang? Ping us if you are!