How stores battle the “Cyber Five”

The importance of digitalising the last mile of in-person payments when preparing for a great competition against eCommerce’s black and cyber weeks.

24/11/2022 – It’s Thanksgiving Day and, especially in the US, this means kicking off the great shopping season in preparation for the upcoming Christmas Holidays. Retailers, on- and offline, are now marking up for the five major days of the year: Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday, and Cyber Monday. =Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) also found their way to Europe, and the weeks before BFCM are the highest-revenue days of the year for many retailers.

According to this months press release published by The National Retail Federation (NRF), an estimated 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year. Comparing this number to their 2021 records, this is almost 8 million more Christmas shoppers, with Black Friday trending highest seeing 114.9 million people planning to whip out their credit cards and shop till the cows come home.

After the lockdown horror and the inflation crunch, it certainly offers some merchants relief that NRF predicts an increase between 6% and 8% of total sales during the last months of this year, compared to 2021.

In-store sales for the win

Considering the figures forecasted by NRF and also by Adobe Analytics, this holiday season Americans are predicted to shop less online than last year. It is especially interesting to see that there is a rise in people intending to do holiday shopping in discount stores. Consumers are getting pickier about where and how much they want to spend, as inflation continues to influence their shopping behavior. Hence, it’s no surprise that more and more people prefer to shop in person in order to avoid long delivery times, as well as potential shipping and higher return fees, that more online stores currently introduce. Brick-and-mortar stores are slowly celebrating their comeback as COVID-restrictions, and the fear of the unknown are constantly relieving. Additionally, this accelerating trend pro merchant stores may be here to stay as predicted by recent research by Forrester – “72% of all US retail sales will still happen in-store in 2024”.

Although this outlook is reasonably positive for retailers, they should not become complacent. To be more precise, merchants, big and small, should examine their setup, especially at the POS, carefully. Offering special BFCM discounts and extending opening hours is only half of the story. In order to further battle online sales the checkout experience should be as innovative as shoppers are accustomed to when buying gifts online. Consumers want to focus on their shopping lists, the best deals and the nicest gift packaging, they don’t want to think about the point of payment. Merchants need seamless payments to create a smooth and relaxed shopping experience. This includes digitalising the last mile of payments, ensuring consumers can pay for their Christmas gifts however they want. Merchants need to provide choice – whether by displaying a QR code for PayPal payments, encouraging people to tap their phone or watch, or introducing alternative payments like BNPL.

Loyalty is (holiday’s) Queen

Another big differentiator is making shoppers feel valued by and connected to their favorite retailer. Loyalty has become more meaningful, especially for SMBs, driving growth and profitability by building high-value relationships with their client base. The times of printing loyalty cards are now things of the past – using SaaS technology integrated with their payment infrastructure is now “en vogue”. With customers becoming more mobile and anonymous, some merchants have lost sight of their customer relationships being afraid of not being able to compete against “amazon” and co. However, it’s time to refocus on encouraging these connections with the help of new, digital technologies resulting in a more personalized experience. Strengthening the bond with the consumer is vital for merchants to battle eCommerce – not only during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Magic at the POS

While it was almost impossible to blend digital efficiency with personal touchpoints, due to the restrictive nature of in-person commerce, we act like “secret Santa”, adding some magic to the POS and supporting our customers and their merchants to deliver holistic commerce across all their channels. The Aevi platform can provide transparent and innovative in-person experiences that mirror those experienced online, thus encouraging customer loyalty, and strengthening the bond with customers. What could be a better gift during this “Cyber 5” season?

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