Here are some observations and realities advertisers and their agencies need to address as they study 2011 holiday retail sales and trends:
- Internet shopping and purchasing was at an all time high. Buyers shopped on the web like never before and many only visited stores to see specific selections.
- The retail store location used to be a hugely important factor to shoppers. Does store location matter anymore? How about store size?
- What does the sudden demise of the mailed holiday greeting card portend for the US Postal Service, and for direct mail in general? How many more holiday email messages did you receive this year, and how many fewer actually mailed cards?
- Are there some products and services that simply can’t be sold effectively on the internet? What strategies do marketers of these products need to adopt to survive in shopping’s new age?
Here is a not-too-far-fetched picture of the “new” retail environment:
- Housewife tells hubby, “Let’s go shopping this morning for a new widget.”
- Instead of grumbling, hubby leads the way into a room that used to be called the “TV Room” and is now called the “Media Center.”
- Once there, they fire up the flat screen monitor that covers one entire wall. The housewife turns to the wall and says, “We’re shopping for a widget today.”
- The 3D screen lights up and a nattily dressed salesperson walks into focus – “Do you have a specific widget or brand in mind?”
- “Yes, – the one that’s shown on the XYZ website.”
- “Found it. Will there be anything else?”
Buyer and seller have found one another in a way that couldn’t be imagined just a few years ago. The salesperson – who isn’t a person at all – makes the sale, accesses a credit card that is already on file, downloads shipping information to the buyer’s computer and the item is on its way. And before we even have time to adjust to this new reality, the entire transaction is now often taking place on the couple’s smartphone.
What do you think? Are you ready for this? Or are you that rare individual who still likes crowded malls, not enough sales personnel, calling stores that won’t answer to try to find an item and the occasional episode of road rage? I didn’t think so.