As 2020 draws to a close, many of us are feeling the whiplash of a totally unpredictable year. From work to school to travel, the disruption to our daily lives has been far-reaching.
Retail and consumer behavior, unsurprisingly, have been deeply affected by the realities of this global pandemic and the fundamental changes to our day-to-day routines that have resulted. With our 2020 holiday consumer survey and November webinar, we set out to find out just how differently consumers are approaching the holiday season this year, and what that will mean for retailers as we head into 2021.
We’ve gathered up our top insights and takeaways for retailers as they weather the winter months ahead.
1. More Americans plan to stay local, with 60% expecting to stay within their city or town this year vs. 41% prior to COVID.
The takeaway: It’s no surprise that people are not gathering with friends and family for the holidays at the same rate as in previous years. Whether they’re restricting gatherings to those they live with or simply scaling down their celebrations, retailers can play a crucial role in making sure that people are able to remain connected from afar during the holiday season.
Offering free shipping or longer-running discounts, emphasizing gifting opportunities for your products or services, or even adding a personal touch—such as a handwritten thank you note with each order—can position your business as a vital player and reduce friction for long-distance gift-giving.
2. 18% plan to put the money they would have spent on holiday travel toward long-term savings or investments, rather than short-term purchases.
The takeaway: With the challenging economic climate we are facing, consumers are tightening their belts and taking a conscientious approach to spending and saving. As consumers take measures to avoid extraneous purchases, it becomes crucial for retailers to make sure that they are reaching the consumers for whom their products will truly resonate.
As Rob Owens, CEO of Bumpboxx, quips, “if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.” Get more targeted with your advertising and co-marketing efforts, and consider how you can cut through the noise via channels like email, social, and SMS. Savvy consumers may also be responsive to a cashback or gifting offer, which acts as a boon to the retailer by encouraging loyalty and repeat purchases.
3. Over a third of Americans have become more conscious of ‘non-essential spending’ due to COVID-19.
The takeaway: If you have products or services in your roster that fall naturally into the essentials category, your job is easy: make sure that you’re primarily promoting those goods in your advertising and customer communications.
But if your product or service is not traditionally viewed as an “essential,” don’t despair: finding success may just be a matter of messaging. Emphasize the benefits of your products for the specific moment we are living through: selling high-end silverware? We’re all eating in and cooking at home more than ever. Peddling retro turntables? This may not seem like an essential purchase, unless you consider the endless entertainment value for families that will be cooped up inside all winter.
Finally, consider leaning into a philanthropic mission or incentive (i.e. buy one, donate one). This is the time of year that people really focus on giving back, and consumers may consider a purchase that does good as more of an “essential” than simply buying goods.
4. 44% of Americans said they would spend less on gifts this year—but this was not true for Quadpay customers, 30% of whom actually expect to spend more.
The takeaway: Offering a flexible payment option to consumers can have a tangible impact on your sales. According to Owens, launching Quadpay “took on a tremendous area of need for the consumer” and resulted in as much as a 200% increase in sales volume for the brand.
Rather than cutting into your margins with steep discounts, offer the option to pay in installments. Especially for bigger ticket items, this flexibility at checkout resonates strongly with consumers. If your products come at a lower price point (under $35), consider bundling them together to make buy now, pay later a more financially savvy option.
5. When asked what categories of gifts they expected to purchase this year, the top three were: gift cards (43%), technology and electronics (38%), and toys (34%).
The takeaway: Quadpay’s VP of Enterprise Sales, Franchesca Gayadan, sums up this interest in gift cards succinctly: “Consumers are looking for convenience in their day-to-day spending.” Flexibility and ease of use—not to mention the option for virtual delivery—make gift cards a standout choice for holiday gifting in 2020.
Technology at #2 and toys at #3 should come as no surprise either. If you have them, consider amplifying your quarantine-friendly categories—tech for remote work, at-home fitness equipment, and games, for example. As these statistics show, focusing on these categories will pay dividends with the BNPL crowd.
6. Online overtook in-store as the preferred shopping channel, with 44% of Quadpay respondents expecting to buy gifts online vs. 36% in-store.
The takeaway: Even consumers who may have been resistant to online shopping at the beginning of 2020 have begun to change their tune. The shifting retail landscape has necessitated an increase in ecommerce literacy even among the most reticent, creating a new audience of older online shoppers.
As Tom Sharkey, Director of Insights & Optimization at Simplistic, attests, “more and more retailers are recognizing the value of an omnichannel strategy across brick and mortar and ecommerce.”
For pure play in-store retailers, this means it’s crucial to meet customers online. Consider amplifying your Instagram account with shopping content, or developing a simple Shopify website to get your ecommerce operation up and running. By launching an ecommerce operation, you’ll enjoy the added bonus of data-rich insights about the consumer journey through analysis of abandoned carts, product clicks, and more.
For those who already have an online presence, think about how you can improve the experience for customers: are you communicating a clear and compelling brand story? Offering top-notch customer support? Engaging with customers on a personal level? Incremental improvements during the busiest shopping season of the year can have a tangible impact on your sales and repeat customer rates.
7. BNPL services had the highest anticipated future growth of all payment types, at 21%.
The takeaway: Buy now, pay later may represent a modest share of wallet for retailers today, but it’s poised to explode in popularity as awareness and acceptance of this sector grows. As more and more consumers see their favorite retailers offering BNPL at checkout, there will be a snowball effect in adoption rates.
Indeed, many of Quadpay’s retail partners report that consumers have long clamored for a buy now, pay later option at checkout. The demand is there, and consumers are increasingly deciding where to shop based on the availability of flexible payment options.
“Installments present an alternative payment option and give more freedom to the consumer during the holiday season,” says Sharkey. “Our ecommerce clients embrace BNPL as an essential part of their toolboxes, especially within the current financial climate.”
Ready to see what Quadpay can do for your business? Learn more about supercharging your sales and repeat customer rates with buy now, pay later.
Hilary Krutt oversees all content strategy and creative copywriting efforts at Quadpay. An avid reader, she kicked off her career in the publishing industry and has since led editorial efforts for a variety of clients across healthcare, higher education, and retail as well as in the insurtech space.