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?

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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.

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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.