7 Digital Retail Trends For the Holiday Season


The 2020 holiday season will end the most tumultuous year many of us have ever seen. What 2020 has shown us is that there is no constant or normal, and holiday shopping will be no exception.

No doubt COVID-19 has caused a surge in online spending — in fact a recent Power Reviews 2020 Holiday Consumer Survey shows that 64% of respondents will spend more online this year than they did in 2019. And that increase in online spending will not fizzle after COVID-19, as people get used to the speed and convenience online affords.

Aside from the increase in online spending, this year has brought on the swift emergence and growth of several online shopping trends, and they are here to stay. 

1. Live streaming and video 

With COVID-19-induced social distancing, retailers have an opportunity to create customer experiences virtually through live streaming video, enabling up-close-and-personal connections with customers that will be nearly impossible in person come December.

Retailers will be able to customize content and produce live experiences such as events, promotions, demos, product introductions and live fashion shows. Using this technology to attract consumers to look closer at products and services through a different lens, combined with a convenient purchasing mechanism will be a win for both retailer and customer. 

2. Online appointments 

Pre-pandemic, outside of the Apple Genius Bar, online appointments were barely a thing. But with the onset of COVID-19, more retailers are investing in appointment technology, especially those merchants selling big ticket items with complex buying features.

Online appointments are on the rise because of the personalization, tailored experience and up-close engagement it offers customers. The beauty of the pre-arranged appointment is you can either be in-store or online, and control the environment for the best and safest experience.  

3. Click and collect/curbside pickup

There will be no downtick in this trend as the holidays approach: no fuss, no parking issues and way fewer hassles. According to Power Reviews 2020 Holiday Consumer Survey, blended cross-channel purchase methods will increase, and 55% say they will use curbside pickup more this year than they did last.

The thought of shopping online and waiting for your packages to be delivered touch-free curbside to your warm car will make the holiday season — and your ever growing “to do” list — much more manageable.

4. Contactless payment

Even pre-COVID-19, banks and retailers were making investments in contactless payments. With the hygienic risks of handling money, and the risk of person-to-person payment transactions, contactless payments will become more commonplace as we wait this pandemic out.

5. Mobile device purchasing 

According to eMarketer, 73% of e-commerce sales will take place on a mobile device by the end of 2021. Retailers must be prepared to make holiday transactions as seamless to do in a car, train or soccer field as it is done on your laptop. 

6. Social spending 

For Gen Z and millennials, who grew up on social media and are basically tethered to their mobile devices, social purchasing is a done deal. Being constantly connected to all forms of social media, whether Instagram, Snapchat, Monkey, YouTube and especially TikTok, embedded shopping links are the “new black” of online purchasing.

With this generation pioneering cultural trends, and the increase of influencers and Hollywood constantly logged on, retailers need to immerse their brands in social media, keeping in mind that relevance, authenticity and being socially and politically aware are factors that could make or break their brand. 

7. In this crazy world, keep traditions alive

No matter how tech savvy we are, keep in mind that many of the traditions we have grown up with and know and love will be altered this year. You may need to book an appointment to see Santa and hope he photographs well with a mask on; caroling may have to happen over video.

Above all, remember it is all about the relationship. For retailers, building and continuing on with long lasting relationships and improving upon the customer experience is the ultimate goal, even if technology has to help get you there.

John Federman is CEO of JRNI, a company designed to facilitate powerful personalized experiences that increase conversion and revenue, customer loyalty and lifetime value, both in person and remotely. Companies rely on JRNI’s scheduling platform to deliver personal actions across touchpoints — appointments, events, queuing — and optimize resources to deliver superior quality experiences.

More Info on Customer Experience