How Retailers Are Competing With Online Shopping This Black Friday

Struggling brick-and-mortar stores have been increasingly pressured to shift their strategy.

Struggling brick-and-mortar stores have been increasingly pressured to shift their strategy. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

If you plan on skipping Black Friday shopping in favor of actually spending time with loved ones, you’re not alone.

This week, the National Retail Federation revealed that Americans aren’t waiting until Thanksgiving weekend to buy items. According to data by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics, “more than half of consumers have already started their holiday shopping and nearly a quarter of purchases have already been made.”

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Digital retail sales will reach $138 billion this year, as the online retail forecast by Forrester Analytics shows. So, it’s not that people aren’t buying, but more and more holiday shopping is becoming about the overall conscious purchasing experience.

With 2019 seeing so many chains’ imminent deaths, it’s more vital than ever for struggling brick-and-mortar stores to adapt their business models to reflect modern buying habits. In fact, the data shows that customer experience is expected to overtake price and product by next year, giving brands even more incentive to differentiate their offerings from the crowded field.

Similarly, in a report analyzing foot traffic patterns at major retailers across the country this year, real-world intelligence platform Blis found many stores are struggling to attract omnichannel shoppers.

Lauren Anderson, head of shopper marketing at Blis, says that for 2020, their data shows the urgency of retargeting customers back to an item they’ve been eyeing. “Today, customers are all about convenience, but they’re also looking for a certain type of personalization they’ve become accustomed to with direct-to-consumer brands,” she explained.

Anderson points to Target’s strategy of offering a seamless online and in-store experience as a success story among traditional retailers.

Peter Klayman, manager of strategy at Bottle Rocket, which provides companies with end-to-end digital transformation services, predicts we’ll be seeing huge digital purchases over the next month or so, with the holiday shopping season subsequently being extended over a longer period of time. He went on to explain that while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are mainly about deals on big ticket items, it’s more important to create opportunity for multiple interactions throughout the year.

“If the sales comes from Thanksgiving weekend traffic, that’s all well and good,” Klayman said, but if customers go home and buy something weeks later, the sales will still count toward fourth quarter revenue. “With big retailers, if they can focus on the people that are coming in droves and turn them into lifelong customers, they’ll be better equipped to compete with online shopping.”

Anderson agrees, noting that “big box can be about convenience too, they just have to focus on the way they’re engaging with the consumer and be as efficient as possible.”

How Retailers Are Competing With Online Shopping This Black Friday