As more consumers shop online this holiday season, retailers must recreate that moment of stumbling upon the perfect gift.

Recommendation engines can be helpful, but they just aren’t the same as finding an unexpectedly perfect gift for someone while browsing the aisles of a store. 

Recreating that serendipity online is existential for retailers this holiday season.  

As people seek simplicity from brands, especially during the pandemic, those that can deliver seamless online and in-store experiences will triumph in the lead-up to December. 

Influencer gift guides

Consumers are overwhelmed by choices when shopping online. To narrow down the options, brands and retailers can partner with influencers and publishers on curated holiday gift guides. 

Publishers have issued holiday gift guides for decades. In the past, a leaflet in the back of Vogue or GQ  was a welcome bonus for browsing. Today, retailers must recreate those moments as lifelines for weary online shoppers — and to introduce their line-up to a loyal following and drive unplanned holiday purchases. 

Retailers can also create their own store gift guides to help consumers navigate holiday products and deals. Amazon raked in $170 million in holiday sales in 2017 with this approach. 

Retailers that take a personal and flexible approach to holiday shopping will stand out, even if that’s only possible by partnering with other companies. Macy’s is teaming up with DoorDash on delivery this holiday season, for example, and Walmart signed a trio of deals to speed up delivery times with drones. 

Survival of the biggest

While the shift to e-commerce will make holiday shopping a lot easier for consumers during the pandemic, it spells even more trouble for local businesses, which don’t have the deep pockets to invest heavily in e-commerce and delivery. 

As shopping shifts online, advertisers are increasing their trade budget investments with the biggest players. CPGs, in particular, are investing more in retail media networks from giants like Amazon and Walmart, which are running holiday promotions earlier than ever this year, pushing holiday advertising way back into October. 

That’s bad news for small stores that thrive off of foot traffic — especially during the holidays.


Featured in Campaign US. 

First featured 09/11/2020. 

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