2016 Holiday Guide

Retail TouchPoints – The stage is set for a profitable holiday season, but to achieve it retailers will need to go where the shoppers are, rather than count on consumers coming to them. Increasingly, that means having a smart, aggressive digital strategy in place, with mobile front and center.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has forecast a 3.1% growth rate for retail sales in 2016, exceeding the 10-year average of 2.7%. The February 2016 NRF economic forecast also noted that nonstore sales would outpace overall retail sales growth, increasing from 6% to 9% for the year. To help retailers both compete and succeed in a tough but opportunity-rich environment, we’ve produced the Retail TouchPoints 2016 Holiday Guide.

Our editors explore 10 key topics in this year’s guide, supplemented with insights from the retail industry’s leading experts and illustrated with a range of real-world examples. In the pages that follow you’ll discover:

• The increasing value of User Generated Content (UGC) in boosting customer engagement;

• 5 best practices for handling those inevitable out-of-stock situations;

• Where to focus mobile investments for maximum ROI;

• The “Three R’s” of holiday personalization; and

• Tips for hiring smart for the holidays.

Retailers can use this report as their go-to guide for holiday preparations, and as a toolkit for profitability and smooth operations throughout the season.

This report includes comments from executives from Boston Retail Partners:

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Omnichannel retailers can also leverage gamification to build store traffic during the holiday season. “We are seeing a lot of savvy retailers infuse quizzes, contests and games into their mobile apps with a component to make it compelling or necessary to visit a store or redeem offers, or to complete a stage of the game,” said Gene Bornac, VP at Boston Retail Partners, adding that a BRP survey revealed that “87% of retailers plan to use gamification for customer engagement within five years.”

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Another “secret ingredient” in the holiday mix is user-generated content (UGC), particularly useful as people shop for others rather than for themselves. “UGC that is shared on social media is like free advertising that serves as an endorsement from someone people know and trust — their friends!” said Bornac.

The holidays are times when hopes are high, which also means the possibility of disappointment is equally high. “Last holiday season, 40% of retailers reported problems with their process for buy online/pick-up in the store, and it was probably actually worse than that,” said Bornac. “Retailers realize this needs to improve. Successful retailers will make sure they are better prepared and staffed for cross-channel services, and avoid over-promising and under-delivering on these services.”

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“Retailers are trying to avoid going down [the deep discount] path because it’s a huge margin erosion,” said Robert Cuthbertson, VP at Boston Retail Partners. “The bottom line is, if retailers are competing on like products and they are going into the race to the bottom, that’s going to be a very tough race to win and it’s detrimental to everyone.”

“Given that it’s an election year, people are definitely paying attention to what is going on from a political basis,” Cuthbertson said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Knowing that it affects the economy one way or another, I think people are going to be cautious. With that said, it definitely comes down to how the economy is doing as a whole and how confident they feel about the future.”

Read full white paper: 2016 Holiday Guide

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