Top Consumer Retail Trends to Look Out for This Peak Season

Sep 22, 2022
  • 33% of consumers are willing to make repeated purchases from the same store whilst 52% are willing to buy more items in the presence of a free returns policy. 

  • Providing consumers with diverse delivery options instills confidence in your brand, thus resulting in greater sales, retention, and customer satisfaction.

  • Omnichannel customers spend 15 to 30% more than their single-channel or multi-channel counterparts.

  • Millennials are actually the most active group of online shoppers, with 19% of them shopping on a daily basis and 44% shopping many times a week.

Peak shopping season planning is a year-round process.  

Peak seasons are always a big time for the retail sector. While people are happier than ever to be back on the streets for shopping sessions, COVID-19 has truly accelerated the shift to online retail. The peak season periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are defined by high volumes and sales spanned across a short period of time. As such, the best practices you put in place for a successful peak season are bound to support your customer experience for the rest of the year.  

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On that note, we have taken a closer look at what consumers are expecting and anticipating this peak shopping season. What factors are influencing the purchase decisions of today’s consumers? How should retailers prepare for the peak season? What channels are consumers more inclined to shop at this season? Let’s find out!

52% Of Consumers Would Buy More Items if There Are Free Returns

In the world of digital retailing, cart abandonment is a common problem. It is critical for retailers to place a high priority on retaining customers and that includes a simple and comprehensive returns policy.  According to Rakuten Insights, 33% of consumers are willing to make repeated purchases from the same store whilst 52% are willing to buy more items when a free returns policy is offered

Similarly, as noted in Walker Sands’ 2014 Future of Retail Study, the amount consumers are willing to spend increases significantly when there is less risk associated with making a purchase. When done right, e-commerce returns can be an effective driver of brand loyalty and increased customer lifetime value. Retailers who don’t embrace the rise in returns culture could see customers snapped up by more dynamic competitors.

To find out what consumers truly think of e-commerce returns, download the report below by signing up!

Product Price, Free Shipping and Testimonials & Reviews Are the Top 3 Factors Influencing Consumers’ Purchase Decisions

As more and more brands enter the digital space, consumers are constantly being exposed to an overwhelming array of options. As they narrow down their choices, there are 3 significant factors that influence their purchase decisions. 

First and foremost, the most important store features driving the purchasing decision (80%) is competitive pricing. With so many ‘entry-level’ e-commerce options such as eBay, Amazon and Shopify, it can be a highly competitive arena as consumers are able to seek more value-adding and cheaper alternatives without a hassle. Hence, optimizing your e-commerce pricing can act as a high-traffic marketing tool and can influence both comparison engines and conversion rates for your business. 

Furthermore, with the widespread accessibility of the internet today and the growing importance of e-commerce, online reviews (49%) now carry as much credibility as a personal recommendation or word-of-mouth from someone you know. A wealth of positive words can have a measurable impact on your sales, driving purchases and creating a base of consumers who will stand behind you and your product. While written testimonials are valuable, video testimonials can be even more impactful as they allow potential customers to see and hear firsthand accounts of the positive experiences others have had with your product or service. Creating video testimonials also add a personal touch and can help to build trust and rapport with your audience.

Last but not least, shipping is one of the most crucial parts of the online shopping experience. Based on Rakuten’s data, free shipping continues to have a significant influence on purchasing decisions for 59% of shoppers. For fast-growing retailers, free shipping is a key competitive advantage, allowing you to streamline your checkout processes, encourage consumer spending by boosting average order values and increase conversion rates.

51% Of Customers Deem the Availability of Alternate Delivery Options to Be Very Important

Delivery is a critical difference between brick-and-mortar and online stores. Choosing delivery methods that facilitate fast and cost-effective delivery is vital to your e-commerce success. Consumer delivery expectations for e-commerce brands are changing quickly and becoming more demanding by the day. As a result, in an attempt to meet consumer delivery expectations, retailers have to endure the vagaries of logistic issues and supply chain disruptions. Nonetheless, giving customers more control over the delivery process such as offering multiple delivery options, comes with several benefits to retailers.

Statistics have also revealed that shipping has a significant impact on cart abandonment. About 41% of customers abandoned their carts because shipping charges were more than expected. Providing consumers with diverse, delivery options instills confidence in your brand, thus resulting in greater sales, retention, and customer satisfaction

Over the years, we observe a rise in less conventional shipping methods offered to consumers at checkout. Aside from your standard home deliveries, and in-store pickups, other delivery methods such as curbside pickup, parcel lockers, collection points and even drone deliveries have made quite an impact in the e-commerce space. As online shopping continues to grow, so will the complexities and demands for delivery options. At the end of the day, a comprehensive and flexible fulfillment solution helps retailers to improve customer satisfaction and expand one’s business.

Omnichannel Customers Spend 15 to 30% More Than Their Single-Channel or Multi-Channel Counterparts

In today’s highly digitalized world, traditional retailers have staked their future on omnichannel retailing. This is in tandem with the rise of “hybrid” shoppers who continue to seek out convenience, flexibility, price, and speed of delivery when making purchases, utilizing omnichannel fulfillment options.

The omnichannel strategy hinges on the idea of providing a seamless shopping experience through the integration of brick-and-mortar stores with a variety of digital channels. This allows customers to browse a brand’s products or services via a range of different devices seamlessly, and through a variety of social media and e-commerce sites. Many traditional retailers like Best Buy, for instance, went from declining businesses in financial distress to highly successful retailers today, due in large part to an omnichannel transformation. With that, considering an omnichannel retailing approach ensures that the customer experience remains consistent across all channels by seamlessly integrating all the touch points together and ensuring transparency across all of them.

24% Of Gen Z Individuals Are Shopping Less Online Than They Did in 2020

In contrast to popular belief, the younger generation appears to be seeking out in-store experiences, possibly as a way to break out of the pandemic isolation. According to the latest consumer survey by Radial, millennials are actually the most active group of online shoppers, with 19% of them shopping on a daily basis and 44% shopping many times a week.

The nature of the younger generation is such that they value the experience of discovery, resulting in their inclination towards hybrid shopping as covered previously. Corroborated by a consumer survey by Change Up, 81% of Gen Z prefers to shop in stores. Despite being the most digitally savvy generation, Gen Z actually enjoys shopping in physical stores as it allows them to disconnect from social media and the digital world for a while. While Gen Z may research online, visiting stores in person gives them the opportunity to discover brands and products. 

Additionally, Google Cloud’s research reveals that 82% of consumers say they want to buy from brands with values that align with their own. This includes the pressing demand for more sustainable and socially responsible brands when making their purchase decisions. Consequently, retailers are going to have to offer a more well-rounded experience and customer service in-store, focusing on creating the feeling of community while offering a selection of products that appeal to Gen Z’s tastes. 

Expect the Unexpected This Peak Season

As an e-commerce business, keeping up with customer demands and fulfilling orders efficiently during peak season can be a challenging endeavor. Planning for peak season requires an orchestration of technology, integrations, marketing and most importantly, an in-depth understanding of consumers’ demands. For retailers and e-commerce companies, peak season can represent 60% or more of the annual sales and an even higher percentage of the profit. As such, it is paramount for retailers to grasp the ever-changing needs and trends of their consumers in order to adeptly navigate their potential consumers towards building conversion rates, sales, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 

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