This has not been a conventional year for retailers, and with Amazon Prime Day scheduled for this week there is a new wrinkle for brands to contend with – an earlier start to the holiday shopping season.
For its part, Amazon has had a very strong 2020, particularly in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people turned to ecommerce platforms to stock up on essential goods. By launching Prime Day in mid-October, the company hopes to maintain this moment and get a head start on the end-of-year sales rush.
This has put even more pressure on retailers, who have been rushing to pivot more of their business online and enhance their digital offering, but it has also opened up a window of opportunity. Now is the time to focus on what differentiates them from ecommerce giants – the ability to personalise and connect with customers on a human level.
1. People need human contact, so humanise your brand
The pandemic has made consumers more conscious about their spending, but it has also made them more conscientious about where they spend. More than six months into the pandemic, people want a new experience. They want a break from the interminable loop of browsing through thousands of products online, making a purchase, and waiting for an anonymous delivery person to leave an oversized brown package on their doorstep.
Instead, consumers want to engage directly with retailers. Even something as simple as a hand-written ‘thank you’ note packed with their purchase can make unboxing an item feel like a real-life interaction and bring some ceremony to the experience. With the world confined to a small life, these thoughtful touches stand out and bring people joy.
2. Digital rules today, but shops matter more than ever
Adobe recently analysed UK retail media trends to better understand how brands view ecommerce and the long-term prospects of physical shops, and the results were quite surprising. While UK media agree digital experiences will only grow in importance, COVID-19 has also rekindled people’s love for bricks and mortar experiences.
After a challenging spring, consumers were free to visit the high street again this summer and get a taste of relative normality. Safety must of course be paramount for customers and shop employees alike, but this appreciation for real-life experience marks a turning point for brands who have long been talking about the evolution of their bricks and mortar locations.
For example, even brands that now make all their sales online can turn their physical shops into distribution points – convenient hubs for online purchases where customers can easily collect and return products in a way that feels more personal than visiting the post office or a third-party collection point.
3. Old loyalties stand strong
Finally, the pandemic has made shoppers acutely aware of the precarious situation facing retailers as we enter the make-or-break holiday shopping season. More importantly, they are ready and willing to support the brands they love.
One only needs to look at the UK’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme for proof. When the government introduced its discount scheme to encourage people (safely) eating out in restaurants, Brits were happy to skip the takeaway and opt for dining on location. Yes, the cost-savings were a factor in the scheme’s success, but it’s also clear consumers are eager for an excuse to support businesses they believe in.
Again, the takeaway for retailers is to embrace what sets them apart. To steer clear of white labelling and generic experiences and instead focus on owned channels that put their brand front and centre.
A time to connect
It would be naïve to say Prime Day is old news. As in previous years, Amazon will likely set a new sales record with this year’s event. But these mega sales are not for everyone, especially not for the millions of consumers who crave real connections and humanity from brands in these trying times.
Retailers may not be able to beat ecommerce giants at their own game, but they can give people an experience that makes the outside world feel less distant. These personalised experiences will be the key to closing out the year strong and building lasting customer relationships.
To learn more about how Adobe has helped brands create business growth through commerce, go the Commerce Cloud customer success stories on Adobe.com.