IN THE HEADLINES
Technology continues to change our lives in so many ways – not the least in the way we shop. This holiday season, the U.S. will be shopping online at a record pace, to the tune of $143.7 billion in the U.S., a 14.1 percent increase from 2018.
And because this Thanksgiving falls later than in previous years, the 2019 U.S. holiday season will be six days shorter than in 2018, prompting some retailers to start their holiday promotions early.
Worldwide, holiday shoppers are expected to buy more online – spending $768 billion, 15 percent more than last year. Furthermore, in a recent Salesforce survey of 10,000 consumers, 67 percent said they planned to do more of their shopping at online retailers. Indeed, on the November 11 event Singles’ Day, e-commerce giant Alibaba raked in more than $35 billion in 2019, a 16 percent increase from 2018. In response to this shift in buyer behavior, brick-and-mortar retailers continue to innovate to keep a foothold on the industry.
A convergence of numerous factors – some of them technological, such as mobile internet, and some physical, such as logistics – has digitally transformed our holiday shopping behavior.
“Any time you talk about technologies and their impact on society or the economy, it’s never one technology that makes the whole chain happen,” says Eric Boyum, managing director and national leader, Technology & Communications at Aon. “It’s a cluster.”
WHY IT MATTERS
As e-commerce reshapes the way we shop, it’s also changing other aspects of our lives, communities and economies.
Among other things, consumers expect their goods and services to be delivered far quicker than ever before. Today, people are willing to wait an average of 4.5 days for their orders, compared with 5.5 days in 2012. This increased emphasis on speedy delivery is driving change in both the logistics industry and in real estate; companies looking to deliver goods faster are investing in more – and more high tech – warehouses.
More Online Activity, More Cyber Risk
As shoppers flock online to find holiday deals, many may expose themselves to escalated cyber risks. An online shopping event presents a rich target environment for cyber criminals looking to exploit holiday shoppers through malware, bogus links or social engineering.
“Any type of increased online activity – especially involving credit card and bank details, as well as personally identifiable information – is potentially lucrative to cyber criminals. Events like Cyber Monday should highlight the importance of personal diligence in engaging in any type of online activity,” advises Stephanie Snyder, senior vice president and commercial strategy leader of Cyber Solutions at Aon.
The holiday season cyber threat is serious enough that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security released a notice for the public to be wary of scams and on the lookout for malicious online activity.
In-Store Pickup Keeps Brick-And-Mortars Relevant
Faced with massive changes that online shopping is bringing to the retail environment, retailers with brick-and-mortar operations are looking for ways to keep their storefronts in the game. More and more savvy retailers are offering in-store pickup of items purchased online because of the anticipated payoff – 82 percent of shoppers are expected to buy additional items while picking up an online order.
In 2018, having the option of in-store pickup proved to be highly profitable, especially compared with the previous year. “Click and collect” purchases for Black Friday grew by 50 percent; for Cyber Monday, they grew by 65 percent. The trend is expected to continue to grow this year.
Technology Will Continue To Change Retail And Beyond
As consumer trends shift – whether that’s moving retail from brick and mortar to digital, to improving how people get from point A to point B or somewhere in between – organizations should continue improving their processes to meet new expectations.
“Technology has transformed what people do, where they do it and how they do it,” says Boyum. “From the way we shop, to introducing a new industry, to influencing where people live, these tech-driven changes will continue. Adaption will become the new normal.”
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