Will COVID cancel the holidays? Why planning now could save the season

Brittany Mills
Publication Date
23 July 2020

Will COVID cancel the holidays? Why planning now could save the season

Black Friday is officially dead.

This is the headline of a CNN article that points out holiday shopping will likely look very different this year.

It’s no surprise that in-person Black Friday shopping has faced some stiff competition in recent years due to the easy and stress-free online shopping experience that many consumers prefer. Cyber Monday has emerged as a popular alternative to the long lines, angry shoppers, and sometimes disappointingly empty shelves that shoppers face during their in-store experience at the holidays. 

This year, however, customers will be turning to online shopping for a whole new reason: they don’t want to risk their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retailers will need to carefully plan and create a clear digital strategy if they want to have a good holiday shopping season that comes remotely close to what they’ve experienced in years past. 

We thought there was no better time than Christmas in July to start thinking about ways you can plan ahead for your busiest season.

“Curbside pickup is going to be a big secret weapon for us” says Macy’s CEO

For many restaurants, grocery stores, and other retailers, curbside delivery programs have been their saving grace since March 2020. Companies without a curbside pickup mobile app or digital offering have had to find creative ways to meet the contactless and touchless demands of their customers.

As the Macy’s CEO points out in CNN’s article, curbside could be a game changer for retailers who may already be struggling with the fulfillment of online ordering, especially with online shopping seeing an 76% increase since COVID hit. 

So how can setting your seasonal curbside delivery strategy now help you during the holiday season? Here are some benefits that you can count on:

  • Stress-free holidays – for your guests. As a business, your loyalty lies with your customers and your employees first. If they aren’t happy, your business will suffer. For your shoppers, this is likely going to be one of the most stressful holiday seasons in their life. Some may not be able to see their families and celebrate their usual traditions. You can make a small difference by making their shopping experience easier with a curbside option that allows them to have the peace of mind they’ll be seeking.
  • Stress-free holidays – for your store associates. During the holidays, it’s no secret that your store associates face more stress than usual. There are an influx of customers, demands, and more items to stock. A curbside mobile app provides you with the ability to make your back-end processes easier on store associates so that they can plan ahead for when customers will be arriving to pick up their order, among a myriad of other logistical items.
  • Planning new ways to bring the fun parts of holiday shopping to your guests. Despite the popularity of online shopping, there are still many who love to shop during the holidays to get into the spirit of the season. Curbside delivery creates new opportunities to replicate that feeling in a contactless way while customers wait for their orders. The easiest would be to decorate your curbside parking area to reflect the holidays from November through the New Year. But if you wanted to take it a step further, maybe your store could partner with a nearby coffee shop to offer seasonal beverages to guests waiting for their order? The possibilities are endless and could go a long way toward helping your store stand out and brightening your customers’ days.
  • Increase your customer base. If you are enhancing your curbside offering for December, you are likely to see an uptick in monthly active users on your app that will pay off in dividends. On the flip side, if you are implementing curbside for the first time, you are likely to reach a new set of digitally-savvy customers that were previously forced to visit you in-store only. 

Who can benefit from a curbside delivery program?

Many retailers stand to benefit from a curbside pickup offering. 

  • Specialty retail providers: Big markdowns and Black Friday deals are common at specialty retail providers and this year there is a new opportunity for retailers to provide exclusive mobile app or curbside offers for those who choose to buy digitally versus in-store. Plus, this allows you to retain those customers over the long term via digital channels.
  • Discount retailers: Beloved at the holidays for their affordable prices, which are further marked down, these stores can benefit from providing even better ways to connect with their customers during a curbside mobile app experience, especially during the holiday season.
  • Sporting goods stores: It’s not uncommon for parents to buy their children a new bike or piece of sporting equipment that they can use the following spring. Some adults also purchase exercise equipment for themselves. How can you make this process easier for your customers with curbside?
  • Restaurants: Some people will have a new appreciation for what it means to be “home for the holidays.” If your customers don’t like to cook or are unable to create a traditional holiday meal, perhaps you can offer a family deal for customers, helping them make new memories during this unprecedented time.  
  • Convenience stores: Scratch off lottery tickets are a big-ticket stocking stuffer item, as are some other items that you can purchase at a convenience store. Not to mention, if consumers are making multiple curbside runs on a weekend in December, they are likely going to make a pitstop for snacks or coffee. Consider adding curbside to your offering to make the holidays brighter for your customers. See our work with Wawa, a Northeast convenience store and gas chain.

Ready to get started?

December is dangerously close – don’t wait to kickstart your curbside delivery program. See how Mobiquity can help you by viewing our solutions or sending us your questions or ideas.

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