SAP BrandVoice: How The Holiday Shopping Experience Will Be Different In 2020

By Nan Russell, Senior XM Scientist, Qualtrics

Not-so-breaking-news: holiday shopping is going to look a bit different in 2020. 

It’s out with long days spent wandering elaborately-decorated malls, and in with contactless curbside pickups where the challenge is to see or speak to no one. 

For an industry that relies on these months to get its finances into the black, this is going to be a strange and stressful time. However, the rewards are huge for those brands that can enable their employees to deliver a new kind of shopping experience. And for those that put employee experience at the heart of what they’re doing, the impact on their brand could be significant.

But first, just what will be different?

The in-store experience has been completely reimagined.

It’s already apparent that holiday shopping in 2020 will not be a social event. 

Twelve months ago you might have journeyed out to the nearest mall with family and friends, not sure of what you were going to buy, and spent hours walking around stores and refuelling at the food court. The in-person experience has been a huge focus for retailers. But now, many of those in-store attractions have been shuttered for months.

The “store” is now one component of an omni journey, much more so than ever before. Many consumers will search for products, read reviews and even select and purchase items online, only going in-store to collect their purchases. 

When people do go in-store, the experience will be very different – they’ll go in much more task-focused and with a clearer expectation of what they will find inside. Some might have pre-booked a slot to visit the store, or reserved items they wanted to look at in a socially-distanced way. And of course, in most states or countries, they’ll be masked.

It’s all going to have an enormous impact on frontline staff.

The way we shop is different. So is why we shop.

For decades retailers have been moving from purely transactional relationships to building emotional connections. 2020 might just add rocket fuel to that transition.

Many of us won’t be able to enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Sending a truly thoughtful gift might be the next best thing. And that’s where retailers can step in and make all the difference for their consumers. Someone’s purchase won’t just be an item, it’ll be a proxy for real interactions with their family.

And – even though scenes of Black Friday chaos and packed malls may be gone this year – many consumers still want the buzz of holiday shopping. In response, retailers are looking at ways of making new ways of shopping – like the curbside pickup – more festive.

The whole thing rests on employees’ shoulders.

Emotional connections, a festive feel, and super-fast service – it’s all down to frontline employees to ensure this almost-impossible blend of shopping experiences. But it is doable.

The right recommendation, cross-sell, or fast answer can turn a customer into a lifelong

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