Mix together an uncertain economic climate with inflation and a few years of global pandemic – and you get worried consumers. With Black Friday and peak season approaching, retailers must adapt and react with strategies that reflect a changing commercial landscape.
So how should online retailers tackle future holiday seasons? We asked e-commerce leaders how the exceptional circumstances of recent years have affected the retail environment; how Black Friday 2022 is shaping up; and what e-commercers can expect from the future of online peak season shopping.
Vesa Björklund, CEO of Euronics Finland. Euronics is Europe’s largest retailer of consumer electronics, so Vesa’s perfectly placed to give the lowdown on how larger players are coping with a shifting e-commerce climate and what consumers now expect from their buying journey.
Eli Gurock, owner of Magic Beans, a US-based retailer of toys and baby products. Alongside their brick and mortar stores on the US East Coast, Magic Beans operate a thriving online business. Eli has particular insight into how niche retailers are managing the unexpected changes of recent years and how they’re adapting to the future with smart content.
How’s Black Friday and peak season looking in 2022? Is it different compared to previous years?
Prepping for peak season is easier this year with better product availability and fewer supply chain issues. But product prices have risen. Combined with consumer uncertainty due to a possible economic downturn, it’s hard to predict how this peak season will go.
“Compared to a few years ago, the importance of seasons has decreased. Many shopping seasons are created by the online retail industry.”
Compared to a few years ago, the importance of seasons has decreased. Many shopping seasons are created by the online retail industry. Take Black Friday. It’s based on marketing needs, not consumer needs. But in the current climate, consumer behavior is based more on direct consumer needs.
Then again, there may be more consumers planning on purchasing specific products than before – and they’ll likely time this purchase to take advantage of Black Friday discounts.
Peak season 2022 will differ greatly from the pandemic years. The pandemic was a website cultivation period – traditional well-established brands that never sold direct-to-consumer had to step up their online presence.
“There’s more competition than ever before for customers’ attention.”
Established brands can capture consumers’ attention with massive season campaigns and discounts. This will result in better deals than ever for shoppers. But for smaller brands and retailers it’s going to be tough to compete. There’s more competition than ever before for customers’ attention.
In a crowded market, how can retailers stand out to consumers during Black Friday and other peak seasons?
Consumers demand surprising shopping encounters and great customer experience. Educational content has an important role in informing consumers and helping them make purchase decisions. Especially for more complex products like smart home systems, consumers may not even realize what kind of features there are.
“Educational content has an important role in informing consumers and helping them make purchase decisions.”
Videos are a great way to present these features and make sure consumers get the most out of their purchase. You can also stand out through fast delivery and additional services, such as product installation.
For smaller retailers, great content is the way to stand out. At Magic Beans we don’t lean on Black Friday discounts heavily. It’s easy to increase sales but actually lose overall profit due to advertising and campaign costs.
“By creating our own value-adding content we can differentiate ourselves from bigger retailers.”
By creating our own value-adding content we can differentiate ourselves from bigger retailers. And there are so many platforms to create content on, like Reels and TikTok. It takes time and effort but it’s a great way to get our brand out there.
How about the future of Black Friday and peak seasons? What emerging trends should e-commercers pay attention to?
Pre-pandemic many consumers were already familiar with 24/7 online shopping. The pandemic introduced this concept also to those who had previously shopped mostly in physical stores. Now consumers expect retail sites to offer products and services seamlessly, around the clock and regardless of the season. You can’t afford to have maintenance breaks or supply issues.
Shoppers are returning to brick and mortar stores, looking for memorable retail experiences and the chance to see how products look and work. E-commercers must be able to offer similarly comprehensive shopping experiences online.
“Retail seasons created by marketers and the e-commerce industry will diminish in significance. The future of retail will be driven by customer needs, not seasons.”
Retail seasons created by marketers and the e-commerce industry will diminish in significance. The future of retail will be driven by customer needs, not seasons. Globalized e-commerce means consumers don’t have to wait for a discount over a certain period. Someone will always be offering a good price.
The end of the year will continue to be a big shopping season. But overall, online retail will continue to become more diffuse. Going to a single website to get the best deals is a thing of the past. Consumers have an overwhelming amount of choice in finding their purchase. So you need your online customer experience to be as great as possible.
“Online retail will continue to become more diffuse.”
Support the consumer’s purchasing decision through each stage of their journey, offer live chat, expert knowledge, and fast response times. Those will all help in the competition for consumers’ attention.