With more than half of Americans vaccinated for COVID-19, this holiday season is starting to look more like holidays past – the time before quarantine, face masks, and social distancing. Experts predict this season’s retail sales will hit an all-time high over the previous year despite rising inflation, a labor shortage, supply chain issues, and dwindling inventories.
Even if holiday sales fail, the momentum from previous months’ sales will drive year-over-year growth to a record high. How can retailers take advantage of this cheery holiday outlook? By monitoring current trends and adopting key technologies designed to meet the evolving demands of today’s shoppers.
2021 Retail Sales Expected to Set Records
Over the past year, consumer sentiment has been stabilizing amid waning pandemic anxiety, which means more people are returning to brick-and-mortar stores to do their shopping. This spells big profits for retailers, especially during the holidays. Indeed, analysts predict that this year’s holiday sales will see a record gain of 11% over last year. Even if retailers underperform in the fourth quarter, “year-over-year growth will still hit a record-nearing 8.6%.”
Among complicating factors that could spoil the holiday season for retailers are the global supply chain crisis, lack of products to meet increasing demand, and the continued spread of COVID-19. However, the traction gained by retailers during the first three quarters of 2021 should carry them over to next year. Moreover, the likelihood that consumer spending will drop exponentially during the holidays is slim.
Although most shoppers expect higher prices due to inflation, this year’s holiday spending will be driven by higher-income earners who are willing to pay more for what they want. According to Deloitte, high-income groups are likely to spend 15% more than they did last year. Because consumers are willing to abandon brands that cannot meet their demands, retailers are being encouraged to offer both in-store and online promotions. The key is to transform browsers into buyers while they’re still on-site or online. To do this effectively, brands are turning to innovative tech solutions.
Remote Workers Driving Retail Sales
Despite the return of foot traffic in stores and malls, technology continues to play a vital role in the life of consumers. In fact, a new breed of retail shoppers has emerged in the wake of the pandemic: remote workers.
When stay-at-home orders went into effect in March 2020, many businesses were forced to adopt a work-from-home model that allowed employees to remain safe while continuing to be productive. Nearly two years later, workers across all demographics have expressed a desire to continue working from home despite the widespread availability of a vaccine.
The transition to remote working has resulted in shifting consumer habits. While online shopping increased during the pandemic, consumers are slowly starting to return to brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, remote work is fueling an increase in daytime drives and spontaneous retail visits. Today’s shoppers want the best of both the physical and digital worlds. “For retailers, blending digital and in-person experiences is imperative to bring shoppers back to physical spaces.”
Tech Solutions Support an Omnichannel Shopping Experience
Thanks to technological innovation, today’s retailers are able to create an omnichannel shopping experience. This strategy hinges on the idea that providing a seamless shopping experience in brick-and-mortar stores and through a variety of digital channels not only differentiates retailers from their peers, but also gives them a competitive edge over online-only retailers by leveraging store assets.
Research shows that customers love using retail touchpoints in all sorts of combinations and places. Not only do they use smartphone apps to compare prices or download coupons, but they are also avid users of in-store digital tools such as interactive catalogs, price-checkers, and tablets. They buy online and pick up in-store or buy in the store and have their purchases shipped.
Fortunately, retailers can benefit from adopting an omnichannel approach in a variety of ways.
- Better customer experience: When the walls between communication channels are removed, consumers are empowered to interact with a brand in a way that feels natural to them.
- Increased sales: Studies show that omnichannel customers spend more money than single-channel customers, and with every additional channel they use, the more money they spend.
- Boosted customer loyalty: Not only do omnichannel customers spend more, but they're also more loyal, and they are more likely to recommend a brand to family and friends.
- Better data collection: The omnichannel approach allows businesses to gain insights into how people shop and create content and offers that encourage customers to shop more.
Ombori Sales Remote
One form of technology that is helping retailers create a memorable omnichannel shopping experience is Ombori Sales Remote. This unique product is designed for sales associates and allows them to share product information with customers in an engaging and entertaining way via a large interactive screen. Sales Remote is part of a suite of products developed by Ombori that helps retailers bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.
How does Ombori Sales Remote Work?
Ombori Sales Remote is an interactive digital display that can be used by sales associates to share a variety of content, including text, static images, video, and audio, with customers. Staff can control what is on the screen via their mobile device or through voice activation. Sales Remote is ideal for high-value sales environments, such as car dealerships, interior design firms, or financial service providers, where staff need time to explain complex products or services.
In standby mode, Sales Remote can be configured to display a rotating carousel of multimedia content. Switching to interactive mode allows customers to see detailed specifications about a product or service and examine different customization options and price points.
Sales staff can print out information on demand. The goal is to provide customers with enough information about a product to close the deal. If the item is not available in-store, an order can be placed online and delivered at a later date, either to the store or to the customer’s home.
What are the Benefits of Ombori Sales Remote Technology?
Ombori Sales Remote is beneficial to customers, staff, and businesses. Here are some of the primary advantages of the product.
Benefits for Shoppers
- Enhanced experience: Customers enjoy viewing sales pitches on a large screen rather than a desktop, laptop, or tablet.
- Increased engagement: Customers can engage with products directly, which helps them make a more informed buying decision.
- Stronger brand loyalty: A more positive customer experience can lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising.
Benefits for Sales Staff
- Improved access to materials: Sales associates have immediate access to a full range of marketing materials via their mobile devices.
- Fewer errors in presentation: Because sales material is maintained centrally, staff have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information.
- Greater empowerment: The ability to demonstrate products or services on a large interactive screen gives staff a greater sense of control over their sales pitch.
Benefits for the Brand
- Improved Analytics: Access to customer data, including what they are most interested in, allows management to optimize inventory and predict trends.
- Better Communication: Management can share information consistently with sales associates through centralized communication.
- Increased Revenue: Because staff can customize their sales pitch to individual shoppers, they are more likely to close deals and increase revenue.
How can Retailers Utilize Ombori Sales Remote During the Holidays?
This holiday season promises to be merry and bright for retailers. However, utilizing Ombori Sales Remote to bridge shopping channels can make it even brighter. Here are some ways retailers can use the tool to boost traffic and improve sales.
Attract Foot Traffic
- Create interactive displays in store windows featuring a holiday theme.
- Entice shoppers with a revolving carousel of marketing material – both audio and visual.
- Encourage customers to interact with products and services to learn more about them.
- Transform casual browsers into serious buyers.
Demo Products and Services
- Use for individual and small-group presentations to demonstrate products and services.
- Control the sales pitch via mobile device or voice activation.
- Show various configurations based on customer preference and price point.
- Access a full range of marketing materials to close the sale or encourage add-ons and impulse purchases.
Provide an Omnichannel Experience
- Create a seamless shopping experience that allows customers to access information and make purchases via a variety of channels.
- Close deals while customers are on-site and items are in stock.
- Allow online ordering and home delivery when items are not currently in-store.
- Save customer data to create tailored promotional offers or predict shopping trends.
The holidays can be a stressful time for both consumers and retailers. Despite complicating factors like inflation and shortages, this year’s sales could set all-time records. Retailers can make the most of this by utilizing innovative technology to make the shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible. Today’s consumers want to be able to shop on their own terms, and the sooner retailers accommodate their demands, the more revenue they’ll generate.