Consider the following scenario:

Jackie is 23 years old. She graduated early this year and has a full-time job. Despite a regular paycheck, she is doubtful whether she will spend in excess this holiday season. She has a student loan to re-pay. Jackie is relying on online shopping to save some dollars. She prefers to spend on short trips that fit her budget.

In contrast, her uncle Wilson, aged 40, is planning a trip to the Lake Tahoe ski resorts. He also intends to shop for new clothes before Thanksgiving.

Wilson’s mother, Clara, is planning to spend mostly on gifts for the family. She retired recently, and will need to keep this in mind while shopping

This scenario is not too far removed from what the retail holiday spending in 2017 might look like. Needless to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Emerging clearly is the imperative that retailers can no longer afford to tailor their strategy merely to the generational differences of their customers. They should incorporate behavioral and perceptual factors as well.

This is where the soon-to-be released WNS U.S. Holiday Report 2017 will be of immense value. It will help retailers take informed decisions in offering customers not merely what they want to buy, but how they want to buy it.

The need to tailor strategies to different customer types is emerging as a consistent theme in the retail space. I wrote about loyalty programs last month. As was apparent from the WNS retail survey 2016, customization is the need of the hour in every aspect.

The good news first.

Any apprehensions retailers may have had about reduced spending due to hurricanes Harvey and Irma can be put to rest. The report indicates that the average spend will actually increase from USD 998 as we reported in 2016 to USD 1213 as our 2017 study suggests.

However, things are not as straight-forward

There are noticeable generational differences. Millennials are actually showing signs of a dip in spending. Gen X is likely to emerge as the biggest spender. While some cohorts will spend more on experiences, others are likely to spend more on gifts. A Monday Christmas will impact the way customers begin shopping and how they spread out their spending. Additionally, the absence of presidential elections as a factor of uncertainty will most likely lead to a forward shift in purchase timelines of shoppers. Online deals throughout the holiday season might take away some of the Black Friday charm.

I think it will be critical for retailers to take a deeper look into the shopping timeline todesign more effective deals. The WNS U.S. Holiday Season Report 2017 studies this continuum across three phases of shopping.

There are goldmines of possibilities waiting to be explored.

As I mentioned earlier, the strategy not only has to factor in what the customers want to buy, but how they want to buy it as well. It is common knowledge that online shopping is gaining predominance over brick-and-mortar. But that alone is not sufficient for decision-making.

What we need is a deep dive into exactly how customers are shopping online. The report provides a pertinent analysis of various electronic devices being used for different shopping activities. We believe that brick-and-mortar will still be relevant this season, but its role will change. There are also significant insights in the report on what customers want in terms of return policies or delivery charges while shopping online.

Another piece of analysis I am particularly convinced will be helpful for retailers is the customer archetypes and their behavioral triggers.

Finally, a word on what I think is an important reason this report will support sound decision-making.

Firstly, the WNS U.S. Holiday Season Report 2017 is a report about the customers, as expressed by the customers. It is based on primary research done across a robust sample size of 3000 respondents across the U. S.

Holiday seasons are typically make-or-break for the retail sector. Retailers will do well to anticipate what customers are seeking and prepare to facilitate exactly that.

The WNS U.S. Holiday Season Report 2017 will soon be available on the WNS DecisionPointTM

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