Going to the store may be your smartest bet to weather the supply chain crisis this holiday | New

The supply chain crisis means last-minute gift shoppers may have no choice but to go old-fashioned shopping this holiday season.

High demand, combined with supply chain delays, material shortages and problems hiring workers, is reducing the availability of items both online and in stores. As customers get closer to the last minute, physical stores will become a more attractive option for shoppers than waiting for delivery, analysts say.

Even if customers can’t find exactly what they’re looking for in a store, it’s usually easier to research an alternative in person – and they can try it.

“Brick and mortar may be more appealing to consumers later in the season,” said Rod Sides, vice president of Deloitte and head of its US retail and distribution practice, in a th -mail. “Buyers can leave with the goods in hand, instead of waiting for the dates promised by the shippers.”

Consumers saw more than 2 billion out-of-stock messages while browsing online in October, according to Adobe Analytics. This is one of the main reasons why, in physical stores, sales will increase by 8% this year – a 10-year high – as shoppers return to in-person purchases and try to avoid delays in sales. shipping, according to real estate research firm CBRE.

Analysts also believe online shopping and in-store order pickup will explode on this holiday due to shipping issues.

Shoppers will rely more than ever on curbside pickup “to give them peace of mind about their vacation shopping” with wait times and out-of-stock items in the minds of consumers, said Andrew Lipsman, retail analyst at market research firm Insider Intelligence.

Retailers will heavily promote pickup as an option for customers on their websites and mobile apps, in marketing emails and on TV to attract shoppers keen to buy online at the end of the season, Lipsman expects. .

Stores say they have more control over in-store inventory and curbside pickup than door-to-door orders, which means there’s less chance of a mistake. or a delay on an order.

“The closer I got [to the holiday], I would absolutely use the ship for storage because that will give more confidence that I can get the thing on time, ”said Ben Johns, general manager of action sports merchandising at the equipment retailer outdoor REI, in a recent interview.

When customers order online and collect their items from the store, the products are either already in the store or REI ships them from one of its warehouses using its own trucks. This means that REI doesn’t need to depend on third-party carriers over which it has less control to deliver to customers’ homes, he said.

$ 5 off orders and free covers

Retailers have an incentive to attract shoppers to their stores.

It is generally more cost effective for retailers to have you buy in person than to order from your doorstep because they have to pay high delivery charges on the last mile. Return rates are also higher for items purchased online, and retailers must bear the cost of customer returns.

Top retailers are pushing customers this year to visit their physical stores to buy or order online and pick up their items in person.

Kohl ‘is offering customers $ 5 off orders when they pick them up in store. It is also trying to make the pickup process easier for customers by adding new temporary pickup locations and designating more parking spaces for pickups, as well as an automatic pickup test where customers can access their orders at the door. using a link and a code.

Kohl’s expects demand for pickup orders to increase this year, in part because it “eliminates the added stress of waiting for packages to arrive at your door,” said Paul Gaffney, chief technology officer and manager. Kohl’s supply chain, in an email.

Carter ‘, the children’s clothing chain, is giving customers freebies as an added perk if they purchase items on certain days in stores – but not online – like blankets from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21 and a Skip Hop toy from the December 10 to December 12.

Randa Apparel & Accessories, which sells brands such as Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and others, has shifted a large chunk of its ad spending to push customers to stores, instead of shopping online. It also directs more of its inventory to stores than to e-commerce.

“When inventory is limited, we prefer to encourage consumers to buy in-store rather than buy online,” said David Katz, Randa Marketing Director.

Customers who buy products in-store are more profitable for Randa than online sales, which often carry “very large reverse logistics costs” on return orders. “We paid the tuition for this education, and it was an expensive lesson to learn,” he said.

When shoppers enter stores, they also tend to make impulse purchases or purchase related items nearby – belts, for example, near the pants they are buying. This happens less frequently when shopping online.

Overall, Katz said, “the frustration level is lower when using mortar and brick, especially when stocks are tight.”


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