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Fuel in-store holiday sales by catering to shifting shopper behaviors

Blink twice and the holidays will be here. How can retailers capture shoppers' attention (and dollars) before competitors do? Planning for shifting buying behaviors is a great start.

4 holiday shopping personas to watch

Drawing from navigation patterns to retail locations, Waze identified four holiday shopping personas hitting stores this holiday season: Evergreens (25%), Super Savers (25%), Early Birds (24%) and Last-Minuters (26%). Each poses unique opportunities for retailers to sway and sell.

1. Evergreen

Know anyone who keeps a gift closet year-round? As the term implies, Evergreen shoppers are never not shopping or gifting to people they love.

"They're the type of person who walks through Target or Pottery Barn, sees a candle and goes, 'Oh, Kate would love this! I'm going to get it for her," says Kelly Smith, Head of Strategy & Insights, North America, for Waze. Because many of their purchases aren't planned, Evergreens do a ton of purchasing in-store, grabbing items that spark their interest in the moment.

When it comes to winning over Evergreens, consistent nurture pays off: Stay visible and cater to their penchant for serendipitous, discovery buys throughout the full season.

2. Super Saver

Super Savers are deal hunters, completing most of their holiday shopping between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Surprisingly, Waze data shows a slight decline in Super Saver behaviors year-over-year, which Smith attributes to mounting pandemic pressures and the fact that many retailers are hosting earlier sales. "Instead, we've seen many Super Savers shift into Early Bird behaviors," Smith explains: "They no longer feel they have to wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to snag a great deal."

Any way you slice it, discounts and freebies are obvious selling points for deal seekers. Exclusivity, bonuses and premium experiences are other ways to drive value without necessarily dropping prices.

3. Early Bird

Though they're budget-conscious, Early Birds also worry about completing their holiday shopping early — usually by the end of November. When they see something on sale, they grab it.

Last year, shipping and inventory snafus caused many gifts to arrive long after Santa retired for the season. Early Birds remember that well and, by golly, they won't allow delays to happen this year. Already, back-to-school shopping triggered many consumers to begin looking for holiday gifts as early as this summer[1]. Altogether, that means Early Birds are looking for holiday deals this very minute.

Aside from the satisfaction of getting ahead of the game, retailers can also use scarcity, convenience and other early action incentives to give Early Birds a sense of value and accomplishment.

4. Last Minute

Raise your hand if you've raced into a store on Christmas Eve. That would be most of us: Last year, 70% of shoppers went in-store for a holiday purchase the week before Christmas[2], and mobile searches containing "store hours" peaked on Christmas Eve[3].

Late online purchases also drove in-store activity last year, with 76% of consumers using click and collect (or buy online, pick up in-store) the week of Christmas, reports Waze. That trend is expected to continue, with retailers adapting in-store inventory and staffing to facilitate pickups.

For time-crunched shoppers, stores are the only option left. Inventory availability, ease and speed of service can keep cash registers singing.

Nudging on-the-go and in-store shoppers closer to a "yes"

Enable easy, fast experiences

Ease and speed have gained new importance amidst pandemic challenges. Today's shoppers have adapted by becoming more efficient, researching products in advance and going into stores with a clear plan so they can get in and out quickly.

Retailers can boost conversions by making it easy-peasy for shoppers to walk in, find items, get their questions answered and get out. Helpful signage, readily available staff and efficient checkouts make that possible.

Make them feel safe

As safety concerns linger, it's worth remembering that 47% of consumers favored stores that offered contactless options for their holiday shopping last year[4]. In response to that interest, Waze launched a curbside pickup badge in the spring of 2020 for retailers to use on the platform. "We've seen a direct correlation to increased trips to those retailer locations," shares Smith.

Expect that trend to continue as shoppers revert back to earlier pandemic behaviors this season[5]. Highlighting features like self-checkout, order ahead, curbside services and sanitizing practices can enhance shoppers' sense of safety.

Play up community bonds

As consumers emerge from isolation, they're experiencing a stronger sense of affiliation with their communities. More than one-third of U.S. adults said they want to help their local community, and many are projecting this motivation onto their buying choices[6].

Retailers can align with those values by showcasing their ties to the community, such as featuring employee stories, local partners, homegrown products and support of community causes.

Reach'em before competitors do

Consumers still make the bulk of their purchasing in-store: 85% of it year-round, and 83% during the holidays.[7] "There's tremendous power in being able to hold a product in your hands and put it in your basket," Smith explains. That power is magnified when shoppers are eager to resume in-person, immersive experiences.

In recent months, online searches for shopping "along my route" have catapulted by more than 1000%, and "in stock" searches grew by 800%[8]. It's why retailers increasingly view consumer drive time as a massive opportunity to sway shoppers before they pull into a competitor's parking lot. "We see drivers clicking on Waze navigation ads and driving to those locations. It's encouraging to be able to drive incremental trips and deliver shoppers to our advertisers' doorsteps," says Smith.

However retailers reach shoppers this holiday season, in-store conversions will hinge largely on their ability to stay top-of-mind in the moments before shoppers choose a destination.

This article was created in partnership with and originally published on Retail Dive

[1] "Retailers Set For Another Unprecedented Holiday Season." Pymnts.com, 20 July 2021, URL. Accessed 5 September 2021.
[2] Google/Ipsos, March 2021.
[3] "3 ways to be ready for last-minute holiday shoppers." thinkwithgoogle.com, December 2020, URL. Accessed 5 September 2021.
[4] "3 ways to be ready for last-minute holiday shoppers." thinkwithgoogle.com, December 2020, URL. Accessed 5 September 2021.
[5] "Shoppers returning to their earlier pandemic shopping behaviors, research finds." Retail Dive, 7 September 2021, URL. Accessed 13 September 2021.
[6] "Emotionally Charged Consumers Are Ready For New Experiences." Forrester, 1 July 2021, URL. Accessed 7 September 2021.
[7] eMarketer, February 2021.
[8] "How shopping has changed: 4 sustained shifts that matter for every purchase journey." Think with Google, March 2021, URL. Accessed 7 September 2021.

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