Holiday Retail Trends | Worldlink Integration Group | Digitally enhanced cartoon shopping cart filled with holiday presents and giftsAs a retailer, you know that the holiday season really starts in July: all the preparation for Black Friday and the ensuing holiday season requires months of logistics and ensuring that IT systems are robust, training for temporary staff is in place, and updating antiquated parts of your IT infrastructure. But if recent events have demonstrated anything, it’s that meeting the basic shopping needs of customers isn’t enough anymore.

Offering competitive prices and an online store won’t draw in customers as much as they used to, as both are now the standard for retailers. Retail stores need to offer unique and surprising experiences for their customers, and create a seamless journey from the initial engagement into the final purchase.

This might be something you have already gathered, especially if you’ve been following the Worldlink blog. This is something that has really begun to take shape in 2018, and will likely translate into a completely new trend once Black Friday rolls around. Let’s take a closer look at how the retail trends we associate with the holidays might manifest when combined with the emergence of innovative IoT-enabled technology.

Holiday Shopping and the Five Senses

Engaging customers through their senses is usually the highlight of the holidays, and the way stores signal to customers that it’s time for holiday shopping. You’re likely more than familiar with the universal trend of Christmas music in stores of all types. Traditional retail stores will generally have the scent of cinnamon to usher in fall, and food retail has the added benefit of offering samples of goods that are pumpkin- or mint-flavored. Your customers probably have a strong association already between certain elements and shopping at this time of year.

It was difficult in the past to use this for effective branding. For the most part, customers expect to have the specific holiday elements present in the store during this time of year. That typically impedes your ability to differentiate your brand’s take on the season.

However, as consumer expectations shift, finding new ways to implement these elements could create the type of retail environment that brings customers into your store – which is already a significant step toward making a purchase.

Revisiting Innovative Tech This Holiday Season

The risk for retailers today is in staying the same, not in experimenting. The wave of consumers that you’ll receive in November and December this year are the same ones who are clearly demanding innovation from retailers today. The trend that you can expect this year is the combination of this year’s omnichannel dominance and the traditional holiday trends. That is, engaging your customers on various channels while providing the sense of the holidays will be a key feature of successful strategies this year.

What that would look like exactly is open-ended, and coming up with a unique experience for customers will be the key to branding your customer journey. That could mean something simple, like allowing customers to enable Christmas music on your website to play through their browser. However, it can also be far more sophisticated. Your store can set up kiosks that dispense a variety of holiday candle scents, allowing your store’s visitors to sample a number of aromas before making a selection. Gift wrapping queues can be prominently displayed on digital signage and on your company’s mobile app. Additionally, holiday promotions can be updated in real-time as customers linger in specific sections of your store and activate IoT beacons.

Branding Your Company Through The Holiday Season

If you need help realizing your company’s take on the holidays this year, Worldlink Integration Group can help. We can help you fortify your IT infrastructure to ensure your systems are always up and running, as well as help you implement the branded customer experience you need to draw in sales this season.

We specialize in helping the flexible, mid-sized company manage their IT systems. Whether your needs are simply making sure your stores don’t experience downtime this year, or if you are ready for an overhaul of your existing point-of-sale or networking system, we can help manage your projects from start to finish and troubleshoot issues as they arise. Contact us today to learn how you can win with Worldlink.