Omnichannel Sales Trends for this Holiday Season

Last week we looked at the overall forecast for holiday sales. This week we will examine omnichannel sales trends for the holiday season. Omnichannel shoppers tend to spend more that others and expect to find what they want, where they want it, and when they want it. Research surveys are showing significant trends:

  • The National Retail Federation predicts online sales growth of 8% to 11% in November and December.
  • PwC’s most recent retail survey found that two thirds of consumers consider themselves to be omnichannel shoppers. They use a combination of mobile phones, tablets, PC’s and physical stores to research and then buy.
  • According to ORC International, 67% of shoppers consider the internet site of a retailer to be important to their buying process. In the future, a little more than half, 51%, plan to spend more using the internet channel than in brick-and-mortar stores.

Department stores are forecast to grow 22% globally over the next five years. Digital capability will be an important contributor to the success of the winners. Research firm L2 ranked retailers for digital relevance. Nordstrom, Macy’s and Sears lead the way followed by JC Penney, Bloomingdales, Kohl’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. Here a few examples of what the three leaders are doing:

  • Nordstrom is focused on a seamless consumer experience across its in-store and digital channels that is driven by a robust inventory management system that was years in the making.
  • Among Macy’s digital innovations is a search and image technology that allows the shopper to take a photo of an item and find similar items.
  • Sears has expanded its product offering online to more than 30 million items.

Pickup at stores

Nordstrom added in-store pickup as an option last year. This year Staples added same-day pickup at its stores for online orders.

Macy’s has offered in-store pickup for some time now and has found that customers tend to spend about 25% more while in the store in addition to their online order.

Walgreens reports that every week 14 million shoppers visit its web site or access its mobile site. Interestingly, 4 million of the digital shoppers go immediately to one of its 8,100 stores. At select locations, some of those shoppers are picking up online orders.

Walmart is experimenting with what it calls a “click-and-collect facility” which provides customers the ability to place orders through their mobile device or online and then pick up their items at a drive up kiosk. Groceries are among the items offered.


The omnichannel focus of retailers is starting to show up in personnel decisions.

Walmart added Kevin Systrom, CEO of photo-sharing site Instagram to its board. He will help Wal-Mart to reach customers through social media interaction with their physical and ecommerce channels.

Gap, owner of Old Navy and Banana Republic, announced that its next CEO will be its digital leader, Art Peck. Peck will take over on February 1. As part of the announcement Peck said “I steadfastly believe in stores and I steadfastly believe in digital.” Last year, Gap also began a program of testing online orders coupled with in-store pickup.

What Omnichannel Means to Your Small Business

To execute an effective omnichannel strategy, retailers must have the right product at the right place supported by accurate and up-to-date inventory visibility for their customers and employees.

Your small business has to reliably fill orders to assist the retailer with inventory management. Accurate EDI Advance Ship Notices (ASN’s) are needed because retailers uses ASN’s to automatically update their inventory. Managing inventory costs to remain competitive can mean smaller and more frequent orders from your customers.

Contact us anytime to find out more about how we can assist your small business.

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