How could record online spending impact retailers in 2020?

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There’s no doubt that the situation unfolding throughout 2020 has caused huge shifts in consumer behaviour - driving more consumers than ever before to the world of online shopping.

Our partners, Nosto, reported a 66% increase in tracked sales at their peak on day 67 of lockdown. Similarly, our own data reflected an 80% increase when comparing the exact same date range (peaking at a 92% increase a few weeks prior).

Year to date*, Visualsoft clients have collectively generated a 36% increase in sales compared to the same time period in 2019. The Office for National Statistics also reported that eCommerce sales made up 33% of total retail sales in the country in May, which is a record high, and have remained significantly above pre-lockdown levels since May.

Whichever way you look at it, eCommerce is thriving. While this is incredible news, there have already been concerns voiced about the impact of the situation on businesses and courier services.

Head of Research at ParcelHero, David Jinks, stated: “the double-whammy of families separated by COVID-19 restrictions mailing their gifts, plus a shortage of skilled drivers created by Brexit could prove ‘a mountain too high to climb’.” He continued, “Retailers may need to radically shake up their Christmas distribution plans.”

Many couriers have announced large recruitment drives in response to the huge hike in demand for online retail and are doing all that they can to scale in accordance with the increases in demand, to keep consumers happy and to meet expectations over the Q4 period.

However, if there’s ever been a time to shake things up to minimise the impacts predicted from this ‘biggest Q4 in history’, the time is now.

With local lockdowns being enforced more frequently as we head further into Q4, there’s one thing for certain: Christmas this year will be significantly different and certainly memorable.

So, how else can retailers prepare for a positive Q4 and help minimise impacts on couriers?

  • Data driven decision making
    When the initial situation unfolded back in March, contingency plans were put in place and many retailers meticulously reconsidered and restructured their supply chains. With a significant portion of sales predicted to be from online sources this year, it's never been more important to manage demand volatility. Making data-driven decisions to scale stock this year will be key to predicting, as accurately as possible, the increase in demand for peak season this year.

  • Switch up your marketing messaging
    While, yes, Christmas messaging before Halloween would usually raise a few eyebrows, this year it has never been more important. Encouraging your customers and consumers to start their Christmas shopping earlier than ever before this year could be key to minimising not only the impact on couriers, but will also ensure that workload becomes far more manageable when it comes to order processing by staff, by spreading it over these critical three months.

  • Offer flexible financial options
    This year has presented varying degrees of financial instability for everyone, meaning the purse strings may be held closed a little tighter this year if required. On top of this, as shoppers are being encouraged to shop earlier than ever before in 2020, the Christmas savings pot may not be looking as full as anticipated. Allowing your customers to spread the cost over an agreed time period will not only offer your customer more flexibility (and create a more positive shopping experience), but it also guarantees a certain level of returning cash flow for the business over the Q4 period.

  • Click and collect
    Many consumers are more than happy to cut out delivery times and collect their own orders if they are given a specific delivery slot, to minimise social interaction with other shoppers. If you are able, offering click and collect services can provide your consumers a sense of ease knowing they have the option to collect their own order, rather than worrying whether it will make it in time for Christmas.

  • In Store Appointments
    As long as stores remain open, offering your customers the ability to shop in a safe manner in store will provide an elevated experience for your shoppers. Not only does it provide them with a more safe shopping environment, it also enables you to curate that one-on-one VIP shopping experience and positive memories for your customer.

Want to find out more about how Visualsoft could help you? Simply fill out the form or give us a call on 01642 633604.

* at the point of writing, ahead of Q4.