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It’s going to be a cold old Christmas… for some

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With Christmas rapidly approaching, retailers should be in a buoyant mood: this is, after all, the few months where fortunes can be made. But these are tough times for retailers, despite the season of good will. Shoppers are increasingly less loyal and are driven largely by price and brands are starting to suffer.

Samsung’s latest research paints a bleak picture: young people are not interested in traditional shops any more, using them as hang out and try out location before buying cheaper online.

And the same youngsters – although I feel it has seeped into even my old bones – are adamantly brand agnostic: throwing loyalty away in return for speed and discounts.

This is all likely to come ever more to the fore in the run up to Christmas as panic buying, tightened purse strings and a ground-swell away from in store shopping hell (particularly at this time of year) and better delivery options for online purchases all come home to roost.

For once the annual story that “retailers fear this could be the worse Christmas ever…” that the scare-mongering mainstream media likes to trot out about mid December might actually be right.

The key, as ever, lies in technology. Omni-channel tactics and the embracing of the best of the web and the best of the store are going to be among the key tools in the fight to make it a cool Yule for retailers. And when it is done right it can really yield results.

Shop Direct is seeing things boom as it gets its technology ducks in a row. At the other end of the spectrum, Ralph Lauren and Harrods are looking to use mobile and store fronts to make the brand experience more interactive.

And this is the key. It is no longer about having the right stuff in stock and some nice pictures/mannequins, shopping – be it online or instore – needs to theatre. Online has spent a lot of time and effort getting this experience right and has the natural advantage that it is consumed through a medium or media that lend themselves to interaction. But stores have to follow suit.

Samsung’s research points to how stores have to have theatre to entice “future shoppers” in; Harrods and Ralphy L are also looking at how to use the same idea to attract its traditionally very loyal customers. And this is the turning point. This Christmas may start the process of the retail revolution.

The stores and sites that really apply all the learnings from the digital revolution this Christmas will be the winners. We have heard enough about how we should all be more like the Apple Store: now it is time to start putting these ideas into practice. Are you ready?

ONE PLACE YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT HOW TO GET READY IS OUR WEBINAR WITH SLI SYSTEMS ON 11 NOVEMBER AT 1130 – here you can hear from such luminaries as Pets Pyjamas, Snow + Rock and The Diamond Store on Multichannel predictions and priorities. Sign up here

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