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Why retailers need a mix of digital and in-person appeal to win this holiday season

It’s the most wonderful time of year for consumers and retailers alike. Many Americans are excited to re-establish holiday traditions that may have been disrupted by the pandemic. According to a recent National Retail Foundation consumer survey, 62% of holiday shoppers agree that spending on presents and seasonal celebrations is a priority, even if they need to cut back in other areas in order to afford to celebrate, given higher prices and inflation.1 In fact, Waze navigation data shows that consumers are already prioritizing holiday gifting. Navigations to retail on Waze during this year’s holiday kickoff sales in October increased 19% year over year, and 5% when compared to the prior period.2

While shoppers formed new habits over the past few years, this data underscores the fact that in-store experiences will remain the most important touchpoints in omnichannel shopping journeys this holiday season.

Moreover, a recent survey of retail brand and agency executives conducted by Retail Dive’s StudioID on behalf of Waze highlights the unique value that brick-and-mortar stores can deliver. Among the findings, 77% of these retail executives say more expensive items will be purchased in-store rather than online — a 6.6% increase from our Spring 2022 survey.3 Further, 89% of retail brand and agency executives surveyed also see shoppers purchasing more items when buying in person.4

These results show that this holiday season, retailers who are better able to entice shoppers into physical stores — and sway their in-the-moment purchasing decisions – will be positioned to win an outsized share of the market. And they can do that through a smart omnichannel engagement strategy.

Delivering exceptional experiences to high-value shoppers

Despite the significant growth of ecommerce, consumers continue to make more than 80% of their retail purchases in physical stores.5 And Waze navigations show these on-the-go consumers are actually driving to retailers more than last year, despite the U.S. Consumer Price Index rising 8.2% over that same period of time.6

Given last year’s holiday season showing a growth in drives during this key time for retail (during Q4 last year, navigations to retail increased 13% when compared to the rest of the year (Oct ’21-Dec ’21)), 2022 is likely to be even stronger. Over 140 million people use the Waze app each month, and their navigations to brick-and-mortar retail stores were up 6.3% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2022.7 This includes significant increases in visits to stores specializing in personal care (up 8.2%) and department stores (up 12.8%).8 It’s worth noting these trips demonstrate interest in personal wellness and self-care, evidence that Waze users – whose median income is $95,2009 – continue to value human connection and the personal experiences they receive in retail stores over any inflation deterrents.

Based on navigations to retail during early holiday sales this season building on a sizeable Q3, we can expect to see navigations to retail locations continue at perhaps even accelerated rates this year vs. last. Historically, navigations to department stores on Waze have seen a sharp increase - to the tune of 43% - during the holiday season when compared to the rest of the year. Apparel stores alone have also seen a significant increase; last year, navigations to apparel stores increased by 20% during the holiday season (October ’21- December ’21) compared to the rest of the year.10

“Despite rising costs, we’ve seen a resilience in our user base both in terms of driving behavior and reported anticipated spending this holiday season,” says Liz Franz, Head of Industry for Retail at Waze. “Investing in ads on Waze provides retailers the opportunity to show up in a contextually relevant way to educate or remind drivers of their brand in moments of both receptivity and proximity -- effectively driving holiday shoppers to their storefronts.”

Blending digital and physical experiences to maximize delight

“...We can expect consumers to continue to shift how they spend their holiday budget this upcoming season,” said Nick Handrinos, vice chair of Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution. “Retailers across channels who remain aligned with consumer demand and offer convenient and affordable options can be well positioned for success this season.”11

Relying on targeted strategies to present enticing offers will be especially important for attracting high-value, on-the-go consumers into brick-and-mortar retail locations where they’re more likely to make purchases. Investing in ads on Waze to provide location awareness as drivers are navigating via offerings such as the Waze Branded Pin and presenting compelling offers using Waze Takeovers – can effectively direct traffic right to your front door. These ads can help on the go consumers find your store at the time when they’re most likely to purchase. And providing turn-by-turn directions in a frictionless way will help move consumers from screen to store this holiday season.

Want to see for yourself how Waze advertising can support your revenue goals? Learn more at waze.com/ads, or search Waze’s category trends data for yourself.

1. “6 things to know about the 2022 holiday shopping season: Consumer trends, retailers’ plans and more.” National Retail Federation, September 2022, URL. Accessed 12 October 2022.
2. “Category Trends.” Waze, October 2021-October, 2022, URL. Accessed 20 October 2022.
3. studioID survey, commissioned by Waze, July 2022
4. ibid.
5. U.S. Census Bureau News, August 2022, URL. Accessed 12 October 2022.
6. “September Inflation Report: Prices Rise Faster Than Expected.” New York Times, October 2022, URL. Accessed 13 October 2022.
7. “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-June 30, 2022, URL. Accessed 12 October 2022.
8. Ibid.
9. MRI/comscore, June 2022
10. Waze Internal Data, 2019-2022
11. “Deloitte: Holiday Retail Sales Expected to Increase 4% to 6%.” PR Newswire, September 2022, URL. Accessed 12 October 2022.

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