To: Consumers, From: Tech 🎁
With the holiday season in full swing, one thing is certain: this year is like no other. As businesses large and small adapt to reach consumers in more ways, competition in retail is clear. For small businesses, digital services and tools to support online sales are vital, ensuring that their handmade made goods — from chocolate to jewelry to COVID-19 face masks — remain top-of-mind for consumers shopping online. Retailers, online and brick-and-mortar stores alike, are ramping up their offerings, giving consumers more choices than ever.
Beyond helping with last-minute holiday shopping, digital tools are keeping people connected and entertained—all from the comfort of their homes—despite disrupted holiday plans due to the pandemic. Below we’ve outlined the various roles tech is playing in ringing in the 2020 holidays:
— Competition in retail is robust, with businesses competing to respond quickly to changing consumer habits and giving people an array of options as they place their holiday orders.
— For small businesses, digital tools are driving product sales and reaching consumers near and far.
— Digital tools are keeping people connected and entertained amid a holiday season unlike any other.
Competition in retail is robust, with businesses competing to respond quickly to changing consumer habits and giving people an array of options as they place their holiday orders.
Online retail platforms like Shopify are having “rapid growth” as more and more businesses set up digital services to meet consumers where they are, writes Christine Williams. “E-commerce platform Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has showcased the strength of online retail with its rapid growth and tremendous performance throughout the pandemic… The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the consumer shift to online shopping, and Shopify has benefited greatly from the wave of entrepreneurs rushing to set up digital storefronts. The company’s third-quarter results reaffirmed this trend as total revenue grew 96.5% year over year and 7.4% from the previous quarter.”
As big box stores continue to invest in their online offerings, Shipt, acquired by Target, has been a “big winner” for the company during the holiday season, as noted by Jeremy Bowman. “Shipt has been a big winner for Target during the pandemic, experiencing 280% growth in the third quarter to $200 million in sales in the quarter, and looks primed to deliver strong growth in the holiday season as well… Both Shipt and Target have kicked off the holiday season on the right foot. Shipt said that sales jumped 65% on Thanksgiving Day, driven by additional store closures during the holiday. Shipt CEO Kelly Caruso hopes to double the company’s customer base to 300K during the key shopping season, counting on those customers to stick around even after the pandemic.”
Big box stores like Walmart are taking advantage of their physical stores and “running delivery operations from 2.8K of its 11.5K stores,” as consumers seek to shop safely from home, as highlighted by Tony Lystra. “Walmart’s brick-and-mortar business model gives it something Amazon doesn’t have, according to Patrick Penfield, a professor of supply chain practices at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. The company’s brick-and-mortar stores are largely situated closer to neighborhoods than Amazon’s distribution centers, making it easier for Walmart to get merchandise to people’s porches, so long as those items begin their trips from Walmart’s stores instead of a warehouse.”
For small businesses, digital tools are driving product sales and reaching consumers near and far.
Small and medium-sized businesses are having a greater appreciation for digital tools and services as a result of the pandemic, linking digital tool use to financial outcomes, according to Digitally Driven Report, a recent study by Connected Commerce Council:
— 85% of small and medium-sized businesses say COVID-19 made them rethink their approach to digital tools.
— 72% of small and medium-sized businesses increased use of digital tools during COVID-19.
— Digitally-driven small and medium-sized businesses achieved 4X better revenue projections during COVID-19.
Established online retail platforms are connecting small and medium-sized businesses to more consumers, with many gearing up for their busiest holiday season to date, as noted by Catherine Thorbecke. “Amazon said Tuesday that independent sellers brought in more than $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, an increase of more than 60% from 2019… More than 71,000 small- and medium-sized businesses worldwide already have surpassed $100,000 in sales. In addition, American small- and medium-sized businesses have sold an average of 9,500 products per minute this holiday season to date.”
Digital tools are keeping people connected and entertained amid a holiday season unlike any other.
New streaming services like Disney+ are disrupting the sector as people settle in for holiday movies at home, as noted by Joan E. Solsman. “Disney Plus grew to 86.8 million subscribers a little over a year after its launch in November 2019, Disney said. That’s an additional 13 million subscribers added in just a couple of months since late September, likely spurred by new rollouts in Latin America. And looking down the road to late 2024, Disney projected that Disney Plus will have between 230 million and 260 million global subscribers by the time the service is five years old.”
Chart is sourced from Sara Fischer via Axios.
With a handful of video conferencing platforms at their fingertips, consumers have the freedom to use whichever best meets their holiday needs, via a 2020 Springboard poll. “Consumers are multihoming, or switching, across multiple video conferencing/chat services. The abundance of options in the conferencing/chat space, coupled with the fact that many of these platforms are free or low-cost, is making it easier than ever for people to gather for the holidays—despite being thousands of miles apart.”