Although Amazon has yet to announce its rescheduled Amazon Prime Day, it confirmed it would come sometime in the fourth quarter of the year. With the summer event moving to the heart of a holiday shopping season already turned upside down by COVID-19, these next three months could be unlike any other.
These next months are also the most important time of the year for many industries that depend on holiday sales to drive a significant portion of annual revenue. The good news is consumers are still shopping, traveling, dining and purchasing — just in different ways. Businesses still have time to prepare for a new customer experience and the holiday surge, but the clock is ticking.
To help you prepare for the months ahead, we caught up with a handful of our Medallia Experts on Demand to ask them for their customer experience predictions for this holiday shopping season.
“Until 2020, travel habits have largely been consistent, making loyalty somewhat straightforward. Business travelers had their next several trips on the books for their go-to airlines, hotels and rental car groups. Travelers had built relationships with specific brands out of convenience, preference, and in some cases because they’ve ‘always done it that way.’ As travel has waned, these habits have been significantly disrupted and where travel is occurring, customers are frequently experiencing new brands for the first time. As customers are trying new brands, hospitality companies face an unprecedented environment where retention is far more challenging, but on the flipside, an opportunity to gain new market share by understanding and prioritizing the customer experience.”
— Geoff Ryskamp, Global Head of Hospitality, Travel and Leisure, Medallia, who has nearly two decades of experience in hospitality with companies like Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Choice Hotels and PwC
“For many retailers — like grocery, convenience stores, cosmetics/skincare and other replenishment businesses — It often takes a significant life event like marriage or children for a loyal customer to switch to a competitor. Tens of millions of consumers are experiencing a significant life event simultaneously. Retailers should take advantage of the opportunity to capture more customers making the switch, while preserving the loyalty of longtime shoppers.”
— Charles Beck, Director of Solutions Consulting, Retail, Restaurant and Grocery, Medallia
“Adopting a mindset of how to refashion vs. replace the physical store shopping experience will be what differentiates winners and losers in retail this holiday season. Shoppers will still flock to the stores. For some it will look like a quick, contactless curbside pickup, while for others it will come in the form of an exclusive, private appointment (from a safe, social distance of course). Regardless of how they choose to engage at physical locations, their expectation of seamless, highly personalized experiences remains unchanged, if not perhaps heightened given the emotions that naturally come with the holiday hustle and bustle.”
— Erica James, Medallia’s Global Head of Retail Practices
“Most retail and food-service businesses will accelerate reopening over the next three months to near full capacity as more data becomes available on the pandemic. This means the brands that reset to normal the fastest will win. Getting back to basics will rule the day, but brands must adapt quickly with new procedures for both customers and employees and be crystal clear in communications. Digital transactions will continue to grow disproportionate to historical averages, but we’ll see them decline from their highs this summer.”
— Mike Debnar, Solutions Principal, Retail and Restaurants, who previously helped create a digital guest experience while at 7-Eleven that has since led to increased engagement and improved case efficiency
“COVID-19 has changed many things in 2020, but everyone still loves technology — phones and the accessories that go with them like tablets, speakers and headphones. People need to be connected now more than ever before to online classes, work or just using more bandwidth to surf the web. Newer, faster devices on the 5G networks will be popular this shopping season and I predict we’ll see some amazing offers and really cool bundles of products. Bundling offers can help drive sales and create less stops for customers during the holiday season.”
— Jason Pointelin, Director, Professional Services, Telco, Medallia, who recently joined after spending 22 years in a variety of senior roles at Sprint
“Customers have become more comfortable and will continue to expect digital end-to-end processes while purchasing and servicing vehicles. The end of the year represents a prime selling season for the automotive industry with substantial incentives being offered to consumers starting around Thanksgiving and running through the end of year to drive foot traffic into dealerships. This year ‘foot traffic’ will be more web traffic due to health concerns. Dealers need to be prepared for a surge in digital.”
— Bryan Long, Global Automotive Solutions Principal, Medallia, who has 30 years experience working directly with dealerships
“Black Friday is typically the busiest and highest revenue opportunity of the year for telcos. Given the possibility of another COVID-19 surge in the fall, this year will most likely look very different. Shoppers may be hesitant to shop in crowded stores and will opt for online shopping and curbside pickup. Online orders also limit the ability to drive in-store cross-sell/up-sell opportunities, which telcos rely on for additional revenue streams. I predict we will see telcos getting more creative with online, in-store and pickup options during this time.”
— Kim Palenik, Global Solutions Principal, Telco, Medallia, who previously spent 20 years working at a global telecommunications company