Ideas + Opinions
Can retailers do Christmas virtually this year?
While shoppers in England stay home and parts of Scotland prepare to enter another lockdown, can retailers navigate through the peak Christmas trading season using virtual measures to engage with them?
As Christmas nears, retailers still have to prepare despite the ongoing and varying levels of restrictions across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While non-essential stores remain closed this month in England and parts of Scotland prepare to enter another lockdown from Friday, more retailers are turning to virtual experiences to keep shoppers engaged over the crucial festive trading season.
For example, in September John Lewis launched a virtual Christmas shop for the first time, letting customers take a 3D tour of their flagship store from their own homes. Patrick Johnson, chief executive of digital solutions firm Hybrid Theory, described this move as “inventive and savvy”.
“Unlike any other year in history, Covid-19 has escalated ecommerce to completely new levels. Businesses that adapt and respond to this increased online purchasing behaviour, like John Lewis’ virtual shopping experience, will reap the rewards,” he told Retail Gazette.
“Consumers flock to personalised experiences and brands that build meaningful connections will flourish. It’s important that marketers ensure this personalisation is felt throughout shoppers’ online journeys to reach new and existing audiences.
“As retailers assess and prove the effectiveness of online shopping experiences, I’d expect more brands to follow suit and not just for Christmas; personalised and engaging shopping experiences should be the goal all year round.
“The global pandemic has forced retailers to find inventive ways to avoid long lines, crowded stores, and concerned shoppers.
“The 2020 holiday shopping season will be increasingly complicated as retailers grapple with new and unpredictable challenges that require the agility to execute at a moment’s notice.”