The holiday season looks a little—actually, a lot—different this year and that’s certainly true for retailers struggling to keep sales up and safety fears down during the pandemic. In a year that has forced retailers into shutdowns, shuttered some, and largely shifted consumer shopping online, many are hoping holiday sales will be strong. There’s research to suggest that they could be.

Good News for Retailers This Holiday Season

A recent report from CodeBroker—Consumer Shopping Habits During the COVID Pandemic—offers some insights and tips to help retailers drive demand, online and off, during the holidays. There’s additional hopeful news, as well. The National Retail Federation has forecast 2020 holiday sales to actually be higher—by between 3.6 and 5.2 percent—over 2019 levels.

Retailers that follow certain best practices can boost the odds of boosting sales both online and in store. They can even successfully compete against retail behemoths like Amazon.

The CodeBroker survey took a look at the changing attitudes of US consumers as they adapt to a new reality. More than 1,400 consumers responded: 54% of respondents were female, 46% male. The age span ranged from 18 to 55+ with the majority of respondents falling between 24 and 55 years of age.

While many reported that they are shopping less during the pandemic (more than half) and with three-quarters saying they’re spending less at their favorite stores, there are a couple of big drivers that could turn these numbers to the upside, namely mobile digital coupons and free shipping on returns.

Driving Shopping Behaviors Strategically

What drives shopping behaviors? A combination of good deals and convenience:

  • 75% of respondents say that mobile or digital coupons from their favorite retailers would encourage them to purchase from online stores other than Amazon;
  • 70% said that free shipping on returns would motivate them to buy online from retailers other than Amazon.

Would free shipping on returns motivate you to buy outside of Amazon? | Source: CodeBroker

Consumers can even be lured back into brick and mortar retail locations—53% said that now that their favorite stores have opened, they’re planning to shop at physical locations.

Even those who said they are not planning on shopping at their favorite stores’ physical locations admit that high-value mobile digital coupons for in-store shopping could cause them to change their minds—61% said discount offers would get them back into a store for a product they’re interested in. This provides an opportunity for retailers to leverage their CRM systems to send personalized coupons and offers to customers based on their shopping history.

Leveraging CRM to Target and Track

CRM systems can allow retailers to quickly and efficiently track mobile coupon use. Importantly, consumers actually prefer mobile coupons—77% indicated as such, over traditional paper coupons at 23%. And there’s more good news. Retailers can protect their bottom line by preventing these coupons from going viral or being used multiple times:

  • Ensuring the customer always receives the same barcode regardless of the number of times, or channels, they may receive a coupon for a specific offer
  • Ensuring that, once used, the coupon expires simultaneously across all channels
  • Making it impossible for a customer to get a second copy of the coupon unless authorized by the retailer

The trend toward mobile digital coupon preference has been climbing over the past few years—from 27% in 2018, to 67% in 2019, and now to 77% in 2020.

Not only can CRM systems provide opportunities for marketers to drill down to focus on specific customer segments based on past purchase behaviors, they can also provide the ability to track responses to identify best practices that can be replicated in the future—and efforts that did not achieve desired results can be discontinued.

A Focus on the Shopping Experience in 2020

In 2020, consumers are craving personal interaction and opening their wallets to shop in both on- and offline settings. Providing them with a positive experience, whether in store or online can go a long way toward encouraging them to seek online experiences with favored brands even in an environment where Amazon dominates.

In addition, using mobile coupons to lure consumers back to physical retail settings can yield immediate results in terms of purchases using specific coupons—and add revenue from other purchases that may be made in-store.

This holiday season will be like no other. Savvy retailers, though, can benefit from an environment that shows signs that consumers are becoming more comfortable with person-to-person interactions and spending during an economic downturn that is already beginning to show signs of recovery.