Halloween is over, and you know what that means: Christmas carols, decorations, and holiday sales are now fair game.

Sorry grinches, but shoppers and businesses are starting to get ready for the holiday season earlier and earlier, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

One thing that is in your control, however, is preparing for it. 2014 is expected to be the biggest holiday shopping season in years, so how can you get ready for it?

By observing what trends have been popular in past years, you can allocate your attention to how people will be shopping and provide them with the best shopping experience possible.

Don’t be left in the dust, confused and wondering why your sales aren’t blowing up. Follow these trends to make sure you end 2014 strong.

The word “trend” is generic and boring, so for the sake of the holidays (and this article’s excitement level), let’s address these “trends” as “tinsel tech trends”. 

Multichannel retail

Isn’t the relationship between data, information, and the size of devices funny? As the world becomes richer with data and information, our screens and devices shrink.

So small, that customers can carry them in their pocket and on their wrists. 

What I’m getting at is this: in 2014, two-thirds of in-store shoppers went on their smartphone at some point to check prices online before making a purchase.

Shouldn’t you give them the same experience on mobile as you do in-store, or on their desktop?

Screen shot 2014-11-06 at 11.03.24 AM.png

This idea of multichannel retail has really come to light over the past year. More people than ever are using mobile, and you want to make sure you deliver a seamless shopping experience across every channel. 

Put the same amount of effort into your mobile site as you devote to the desktop version. If someone is visiting your mobile site and it’s ugly and confusing, they will probably leave and visit another retailer’s site.

Don’t give them that chance, consider omnichannel retail high on your list of tinsel tech trends. 

Inventory visibility

Consumers are going to try to get through this holiday season with as few headaches as possible. Don’t be the cause of any of them and make sure your inventories are visible on all of your channels.

Let’s say someone is viewing an item online and wants to purchase it, but it’s out of stock at the warehouse. By showing that you have it in-stock at a brick-and-mortar store nearby, you can keep that customer from leaving your site and purchasing it from someone else.

Same goes for in-store shoppers. A lot of people like having the ability to view the physical product before purchasing, so they buy it from a brick and mortar store.

If it’s out of stock in-store, make up for it with your online inventory. If there is one available online, have it shipped to them, or the store for the customer to pick up.

Using buy online, pickup in-store, or BOPIS, is one way you can integrate omnichannel retail with a visible inventory.

Social media

In 2014, it’s safe to say that most, if not all, retailers have at least one social media account, and for a good reason. Its reach and affordability should encourage any business to invest their time and effort into creating accounts.

social media3.jpg

Social media is the best and most affordable way to promote and discuss your brand to customers of all ages. One third of shoppers use social media to make purchase decisions, and that figure jumps to 50% for millennials (the demographic with the most spending power).

Social media has changed the way retailers can interact with customers. Whether you're answering complaints or obtaining customer feedback to improve your strategy, social media has broken a barrier that once existed between businesses and consumers.

Add social media to your list of tinsel tech trends to turn a shopper into a customer. 

Analytics tools and software

There is so much data in the world, it’s difficult to wrap our heads around it. To give you an idea, we create as much information every two days as we did from the dawn of civilization to 2003. What are you going to do with that data?

Well you’re going to analyze it, of course! But the sheer magnitude of data and information is impossible to sift through manually, especially during the holidays when everyone is contributing to the massive data stockpile.

That’s where analytical tools and software come in. Take competitor pricing data, for example. Prices are constantly changing, especially during the holidays (Sears repriced 25% of its products daily during the 2012 holiday season).

It’s impossible to manually change your prices that frequently, so consider automation and repricing software to stay competitive and profitable.

However, be careful who you give your money to. Some repricers will cut your margins so low that you’ll be selling at a loss. Do your homework, and find one that will be able to set price guards and optimize for profit to add to your list of tinsel tech trends.

Conclusion...

2014 has been an awesome year for technological advances. Phones used to be placed on house arrest with cords, and Facebook used to be limited to the halls of Harvard.

Now, anyone can have these two things on the go and both have the potential to help your business. The holiday season is prime time for retailers to optimize their businesses.

It’s the happiest time of the year for some, and the most stressful for others. Staying on top of tinsel tech trends this holiday season can help you spend less time worrying and more time enjoying a little extra green this holiday season.

Ari Shpanya

Published 13 November, 2014 by Ari Shpanya

Ari is the co-founder of HomeShare and Zent , Graduate of the GSB Stanford Ignite program, and a contributor to Econsultancy.

50 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sarah Ward

Nice article Arie. We recently sponsored a piece of research with retailers into seasonal commerce which found there is also a greater impact coming from new peaks such as proms and Black Friday, as well as seasons getting shorter - making it harder than ever for retailers to predict peaks.

Being able to react quickly is vital, yet 33% struggle while optimising their sites for seasonality to get elements live in time for when demand changes. Because SEO can be cumbersome and slow, marketers often focus on a handful of 'head terms' such as dresses, shoes, beds etc.

SEO automation technology enables retailers to optimise their website for hundreds, if not millions, of keywords in real-time to capitalise on the opportunities in seasonal commerce, turning retail SEO into a supportive tool for trading, revenue maximisation and opportunistic selling.

almost 4 years ago

Verity Kennard

Verity Kennard, Content Marketing Intern at StitcherAds

Hi Arie - agreed, great post addressing some sticking points for retailers. Totally agree with what you're saying about social media. We at StitcherAds believe this to be rooted in Facebook and have blogged about a similar topic here https://stitcherads.com/top-tip-facebook-advertising-automate-automate-automate/ and would love to hear your thoughts.

Verity

almost 4 years ago

Ari Shpanya

Ari Shpanya, co-founder at HomeShare.com

Thanks for your comments, Sarah and Verity.

over 3 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.