Online shopping trends are smoothing out the traditional holiday peak

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Online shopping trends are up further flatten the traditional holiday peakAs statistics show that both before and after the peak traffic weeks of November and December, consumers buy more goods and then return a growing proportion of those purchases, studies by Pitney Bowes and Narvar show.

The change in buying behavior is even coming as many consumers are turning away from their laptops and personally returned to the brick and mortar stores on the Black Friday weekend after Thanksgiving last month, shaking off concerns about the pandemic, inflation and shipping delays.

Although this transition showed an increase in retail sales in 2021 compared to 2020, the explosion in e-commerce rates over the past two years has been so great that online shopping is still setting the pace. This impact can be seen in the growth of shopping practices such as redeeming gift cards online, returning an increasing proportion of e-commerce gifts, and the strategy of “lining up” the purchase of multiple sizes or colors of an item with the intention of all but one .

Another shift in the retail landscape is there an increasing tendency of consumers to postpone purchases until the Christmas and Hannukah holidays are over, said Pitney Bowes, which provides shipping, postal, technology, logistics, and financial services. Buyers are aware that supply chain disruptions such as import delays in container ports can deplete retailers’ inventory levels, so they await increased inventory levels and post-holiday discounts in the first quarter of the new year.

“We see buyers paying close attention to the headlines about inventory challenges and adjusting their expectations accordingly. Our BOXpoll poll results show that half of consumers (51%) are considering waiting until January or February to make some purchases at Pitney Bowes, said in a press release.

And that approach is a long-term strategy, not just an emergency Christmas shopping tactic. The survey found that two-thirds (69%) of consumers expect supply chain issues to persist through early next year and 62% expect them to persist through 2022.

The new approach may be effective, but ironically, it can also contribute to the same volatile inventory levels that buyers try to avoid. according to research from Narvar, which provides technology to help retailers manage shipping and post-purchase returns.

The parenting and early shopping trends themselves are leading to low inventory, as 37% of shoppers made their purchases earlier this year to avoid supply chain issues and 60% of shoppers parenthesized, Narvar said. “We see that consumers started their Christmas shopping earlier due to supply chain problems, but also parenthesized items,” said Anisa Kumar, Narvar’s chief customer officer, in a press release. “That means they buy a variety of clothes in different sizes, colors, and fits to return these items, but not before the holidays. Early shopping in combination with bracketing has contributed to the fact that the inventory is no longer available. “

In response, Narvar expects retailers to get their inventory back in stock by incentivizing quick returns through offers of rewards and special discounts, but warns that businesses must work fast for this to work. “After a return, it’s a race to get items back on the shelves because the longer they’re out of stock, the more likely it is that the item will get a discount,” said Kumar. “Where the items go after they are returned is highly dependent on the retailer, but when retailers can provide consumers with convenient return options near distribution centers, it will be easier to get items back on their shelves.”

With that goal in mind, Narvar said, in 2022 retailers will listen carefully to shoppers’ needs and provide more options for flexible ways to return their orders. For example, the study found that 37% of shoppers returned their last item in the mail, but almost as many – 20% – returned items to an alternative drop-off point such as a parcel box or pharmacy, and 15% returned their items to a different designated retailer, such as that Agreement that Amazon.com has with Kohl’s department store.



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