By Scott Falzone, Managing Director, Telecom, Google
With the 2021 holiday season around the corner, shopping is already in full swing. Whether shoppers are just beginning to research or already purchasing gifts, it comes as no surprise that many have decided to do more shopping online this year. In fact, more than 70% reported that their shopping journey involved online touchpoints and 61% that are planning to shop for the holidays say they plan to do more online this season.
On the heels of a successful 2020 holiday with global sales increasing by 50% from the previous year, retailers and brands are planning how to win the hearts and dollars of shoppers this year. This season is not without its own set of obstacles to overcome. From low inventory levels to employee shortages, this season will require retailers and brands to remain nimble. To make sure your brand is adapting to meet shoppers where they are on the path to purchase, I have three key strategies to apply today.
Clearly communicate availability. Keeping local inventory updated and showcasing fulfillment options are essential to retail strategy. As new shopping fulfillment solutions became more widely adopted, this became a key differentiator for those that either had an urgent need to fill or did not want to wait for shipping. And with 61% of US holiday shoppers saying that they will plan their holiday shopping early to avoid items being out of stock and 52% of US consumers who are planning to shop for the holidays saying they will confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it, it is more important than ever. Make sure to connect your product feeds to drive customers to action as they are ready, as well as clearly communicating when inventory is low and shipping cut-offs to avoid disappointed customers.
Personalize shopping experiences. Customer loyalty is up for grabs, with 43% who are planning to shop for the holidays saying they are open to shopping with new stores/brands this season. Don't forget to personalize creative to each audience and enable seamless product discovery on your website to keep a captive audience. With 72% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if they offer a personalized experience with additional rewards and benefits, this creates value for the shopper to keep coming back for more. And once you have connected with new and existing customers, anticipate any additional needs the shopper may have. Whether you offer a complementary product or service, this helps stand out and enable a seamless experience.
Win the season with insights. The way people search and shop will continue to fluctuate. We see this everyday, where 15% of searches are new on Google. And this rings true through the holiday. We saw retail searches grew at a rate over 3X higher in the fourth quarter of 2020 than the same time the previous year. To keep pace with trends, enabling automation to optimize in real-time to these signals. This will allow you to ride the momentum of a trend when your products are in demand, offer assistance for the shopper as they seek out options and drive to the right business outcomes.
As we look ahead to 2021, I look forward to continuing to drive forward how brands and retailers can connect with consumers on these sustained trends.
 Google/BCG, U.S., Path to Purchase Study, July 2020
 Google commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 Tracker, US, n=743 online consumers 18+ planning to shop for the holiday season. Aug 12-15, 2021
 Google commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 Tracker, US ~n=719 US consumers 18+ that plan to shop for the holidays. Aug 12-15, 2021
 Google commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 Tracker, US, n=743 online consumers 18+ planning to shop for the holiday season. Aug 12-15, 2021.
 Google commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 Tracker, US, n=743 online consumers 18+ planning to shop for the holiday season, Aug 12-15, 2021
 Google / Greenberg, mApp vs. mWeb, US, 2021, n=2411
 Google Internal Data