Retail Expert Deepak Agarwal’s Holiday Shopping Predictions for 2020

ATLANTA, GA / ACCESSWIRE / August 12, 2020 /  While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge everyday life in unpredictable ways, it has especially disrupted retail shopping and changed the retail industry as we know it, indefinitely. Experts say that the pandemic has massively accelerated the growth of e-commerce 4-6 times, surging past 2019 holiday season levels. As most consumers are opting for online shopping versus brick-and-mortar, it’s creating a new normal for retailers as the those that have always existed online thrive, and the retail giants struggle to keep up.

“We will see thousands of retailers continue to close their in-person stores in 2020, with some even filing for bankruptcy. Men’s Wearhouse, Lord & Taylor, GNC, Microsoft and Nordstrom are just the tip of the iceberg. Without foot traffic, brick-and-mortar stores simply cannot drive the dollars necessary to rationalize staying open,” said Deepak Agarwal, C-Suite executive and former CEO of NoMoreRack.com, a multicategory online retailer.

Web-Only Retailers Will Reign

While the majority of shopping is now e-commerce-based, only 11% of retail shopping was e-commerce just last year, according to eMarketer. With fundamental shifts in consumer behavior, web-only retailers are surpassing their competitors. These digital-first companies are able to scale as needed and are not affected by a diminishing or lack of foot traffic. Their digital and web presence often put the user experience first, as they see mobile shopping as a growing force. Brands who fail to give consumers a great mobile experience will get left behind. This includes your mobile storefront, in-app purchases, and mobile payment capabilities.

Consumer Expectations Continue to Soar

Consumers have access to more information and data than ever before. Gone are the days of clunky websites, or multiple clicks to purchase. Today’s consumers not only expect higher quality, but faster service, and of course, free shipping. According to eMarketer, Google searches for “curbside” rose exponentially since the start of the pandemic.

“Today, retailers are not only forced to pivot to e-commerce but also to give consumers the ability to order ahead, pay in-app, and pick up orders from the convenience of their car,” said Agarwal. “These service elements will be key to winning the upcoming holiday season.”

Direct to Consumer as the Future

Retailers are also unexpectedly experiencing business model shifts as direct-to-consumer purchases rise. Brands like M.A.C. Cosmetics, who previously sold direct-to-consumer and via retailers (i.e. department stores), shifted their multi-sensory in-store experience into a digital brand experience in order to weather the COVID-19 storm. These brand experiences include virtual makeup try-ons, emulating the ability to try on different shades of types of makeup, all from the comfort of your home. Similarly, M.A.C, which is known for its professional make-up artists and previously offered in-store makeup services, digitized their makeup artist service. Today, customers are able to live chat with the over 20,000 M.A.C. makeup artists or even have one-on-one consultations.

As retailers begin planning for the 2020 holiday shopping season, consumers are optimistic about the turning tides and economic shifts expected. Regardless of what the post-COVID-19 world looks like, however, retailers who are able to adapt and shift are the ones who will be ready for consumers in the new normal of shopping.

“Today’s more virtual economy requires retailers to shift as fast as possible. For those who are slow to do so, they will likely not have a very jolly holiday season,” stated Agarwal.

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SOURCE: Deepak Agarwal

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