01.06.2017Enterprise Tech

2017 is the year for retailers to evolve or risk fading out

By: Maria Montenegro

It’s officially a wrap on the 2016 Holiday Retail Index by Verizon, and the current news cycle with announcements of disappointing holiday sales results and the inevitable store closing casualties makes this analysis of key takeaways especially timely. As our Index revealed, digital commerce is continuing its aggressive march across the retail landscape, disrupting traditional models in its path while offering great appeal to a consumer population that has by and large comfortably adapted to today’s connected world.                       

So, what’s a retailer to do to remain relevant and thrive in 2017?  “Agility is paramount for success,” says Michele Dupré, group vice president of Retail, Hospitality and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions.  “Retailers with both digital commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses for example need to have the ability to quickly course correct when a strategy or promotion isn’t going as planned.”  Here are additional thoughts on the holiday season past and how to navigate for the future:

  • Digital commerce is only going to get bigger, so adjust accordingly. While the Holiday Retail Index did not measure foot traffic, the high daily volumes and peaks we recorded surpassed last season on most signature shopping dates such as Black Friday and Super Saturday. Dupré noted, “The need for retailers with bricks and mortar locations to reinvent the in-store customer experience has never been more critical than now.”  Consumers need compelling reasons to leave the comfort of their homes, especially during inclement weather which there was plenty of over the season.
  • Cyber Monday could be any day.  On the question of Cyber Monday’s relevancy, we’re sticking to our story that the day isn’t what it used to be and that every day is now essentially a Cyber Day.  Dupré commented, “Our Index actually recorded a YOY decline on Cyber Monday, suggesting that there may have been deal fatigue given the high volume of Black Friday promotions that had kicked off in earnest the week before.” 
  • Super Saturday weekend is the real deal. The Index recorded higher traffic volumes over Super Saturday weekend (Dec. 17-18) than any other during the run-up to the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday weekend.  Retailers were offering great promotions and consumers were now in the home stretch with seven days left to finish their shopping.
  • Retailers and distributors have cracked the supply chain code when it comes to shipping. The week leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah was tailor-made for the procrastinators, with some retailers even courting this important audience with extended shipping deadline offers and discount rewards. In general, consumer confidence was high in supply chain capabilities evidenced by the pre-holiday rally.
  • The post-Christmas market offers a recipe for retail success.  The Index recorded some of the highest traffic volumes of the season beginning on Christmas Day and into New Year’s weekend.  “People are off work with gift cards to redeem, returns to make and clearance deals to snatch up,” said Dupré.  The message for retailers is don’t give up on engagement strategies once Dec. 25th comes and goes because the after Christmas market can be lights out.

Thanks for following the 2016 Holiday Retail Index by Verizon. We’ll be back again later this year, and in the meantime our experts are always available to provide insights into industry trends and opportunities.