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Inspire and deliver: How retailers can ensure a special Christmas

Tom Adams Partner, Experience Consulting Leader UK, PwC United Kingdom

In an unpredictable festive season, our Christmas Predictions 2020 survey shows that one thing is certain: it’s going to be different. We’ll have smaller gatherings. We’re prioritising different categories. We’re taking no chances. And above all, we want Christmas to be special. 

That will affect how much we spend, but also where we shop. For most, that will be online. This year, retailers need to both inspire shoppers and stand out with tailored online experiences, while also addressing consumer anxiety and uncertainty.

Consumers shopping more online than ever before

This year, 70% of consumers have indicated they’ll do their Christmas shopping online, compared with 60% in 2019 and only 53% in 2018. We’re even seeing high online penetration across the older generations, with 57% of over 65s intending to shop online. Consumers are increasingly choosing digital-first, and that means retailers need to as well.

They must understand the online buying journey that consumers take and how they get to the result. It’s no longer enough to just show them your categories or products and expect them to find inspiration. 

Moving from online catalogues to curation and inspiration isn’t a new concept, but the necessity-driven acceleration of online shopping adoption means it’s time for retailers to take it seriously. Digital offerings must meet people’s changing needs. With different need states and different considerations for families trying to make Christmas extra special, it’s never been more important to offer that inspiration. 

The better you can curate, the more likely you are to succeed. For retailers, that means embracing the four key dimensions of a good experience linked to the needs of their consumer segments and the shopping journeys they are planning to make - from stocking fillers to sprouts and everything in between.

Four dimensions of a good experience

Usually, the best way to do that is to assess and create customer experiences around four dimensions: 

  • Distinctive - what differentiates your products, services or customer journey and makes it relevant to different customer types or segments? 

  • Personal - are you providing bespoke, individual experiences and anticipating customer needs?

  • Coherent - are your customer interactions consistent across all your modes and channels of communication?

  • Engaging - how do you stimulate customers’ senses and emotions and how do you respond to these?  

It’s also important to balance these dimensions to reflect different shopper journeys. Under normal circumstances, consumers want their experience to feel memorable, tailored and rewarding. In a crisis or inconvenient journey (for example, returning an item) customers want responsiveness and to feel support. 

A good experience isn’t just about brand, design and storytelling - it’s also meeting and anticipating consumer needs and anxieties throughout the transaction. While a beautiful look and feel, strong usability and clear communication are a vital part of any purchase experience, this year, customers want certainty.

Find the right product and guarantee delivery

With consumers taking no risks this Christmas, all they want is the right product, delivered on time. 

Shoppers’ biggest concern is delivery (41%). Providing specific, realistic delivery dates and up-to-date tracking of products will be substantially more valuable to consumers this Christmas than any shopfront, user interface or interactive experience.

What should retailers do this Christmas?

Find the right product and guarantee delivery

With consumers taking no risks this Christmas, all they want is the right product, delivered on time. 

Shoppers’ biggest concern is delivery (41%). Providing specific, realistic delivery dates and up-to-date tracking of products will be substantially more valuable to consumers this Christmas than any shopfront, user interface or interactive experience.

Around Christmas, we usually see brand promiscuity as people look for the best deal or lowest price. This year, we’re seeing most people (86%) intending to buy from retailers they know and trust - whether on price, value, service or delivery. This gives retailers the chance to reinforce the ‘distinctive’ dimension: why their brand is different and relevant to the shopper. 

Those retailers then have an opportunity to get to know their customer better, build a stronger relationship and deliver what they value, improving engagement and brand loyalty. The key opportunity here is to show that you recognise valued customers, anticipate what they might need and personalise the experience as much as possible. 

This year, the best way to emotionally engage with your customer is to give them the confidence you will deliver what they want (and need) for Christmas to go well.

Conclusion

As consumers continue to flock to online for their Christmas shopping, successful retailers will be those that can both inspire and guide customers towards the perfect purchase for them and provide a greater degree of certainty and reassurance to address anxieties and improve experience throughout the entire transaction. 

If you can make it a Christmas to remember for the right reasons, you’re likely to build an affinity with that consumer long into the future.

Contact us

Tom Adams

Tom Adams

Partner, Experience Consulting Leader UK, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7889 654659

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