November Focus: The Holiday Blitz is Here

This post is the latest in our “Holiday Blitz” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of November, including topics holiday shopping behavior, year-over-year trend analysis and retail strategies. See the rest of the series here


The cat’s out of the bag. Someone wished me happy holidays earlier this week. After a quick double-take, the realization set in: We’ll soon be at peak holidays. Along with tight sweaters and some holiday weight (which incidentally go great together), this of course marks the onset of the holiday shopping blitz.

This will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of November. You may have noticed our monthly themes — recently, October focused on local commerce verticals, September on mapping, and August on the connected car. These are some of our tentpole issues for local media, advertising, and commerce.

This annual holiday shopping cycle is not new (by definition), but there will be salient differences and revelations this season. The past year has seen lots of retail innovation as the industry looks to counteract the cautionary tales of late-adopting counterparts in the “retailpocolypse” graveyard.

It’s those innovations and integrations that will be exposed when put to the stress test of the holiday shopping blitz. After reading and writing about them in the pages of Street Fight all year, we’ll now get a look at how a lot of these implementations perform (good or bad) with greater shopping scale.

Those innovations include several major strategies and technologies. It’s interactive retail displays like those developed by our Heard on the Street guest Perch. It’s in-aisle augmented reality. It’s streamlined in-aisle interactions such as Amazon Go stores and the “retail-as-a-service” subsector that Amazon has spawned.

The latter is particularly relevant to holiday shopping and takes us back to our comment about “stress tests.” These cashier-less stores and Amazon-esque logistical systems are purpose-built for yield optimization and customer flow. So, there’s no better test for that than hordes of impatient shoppers.

Amazon Go and its ilk may be spared to some degree given that they’ve started mostly in the grocery and convenience sub-verticals. But as we’ve pointed out, this is the tip of the iceberg for the technology’s integration in other holiday-centric retail segments like department stores and big box.

We may get to see that stress test next year. In the meantime, there are several other trends to watch. Will e-commerce and Cyber Monday continue to nudge online’s share of retail shopping upward? Despite the hype, e-commerce only accounts for 11 percent of U.S. retail spending. But it’s growing fast.

Based on all of this, how should retailers maximize their own holiday yield? The answer is the same as the rest of the year, but the stakes are higher. That means optimized local listings, searchable inventory, and customer reviews management. You don’t want to lose customers because they can’t find you.

There are also holiday-specific shopping patterns to internalize and build marketing strategies around. Another upcoming Heard on the Street guest, GroundTruth, recently released a holiday shopping guide that spells out some of these shopping patterns derived from its network and corresponding insights.

Brandify has likewise put intellectual heavy lifting into holiday shopping patterns and what they’ll mean for tactical refinement this year.* Among other takeaways from a recent webinar and corresponding narrative, holiday spending is trending upward and the spoils go to the most digitally optimized retailers.

We will unpack all of these tactics and topics throughout the month. Beyond the monthly thematic focus, we’ll still cover the entire location technology and media sectors that you’ve come to expect. We’ll do that daily in the pages of Street Fight as well as Street Fight Daily and our biweekly podcast.

Also look forward to more structural developments at Street Fight, and contact us with any questions or opportunities to participate.

*Brandify is Street Fight’s parent company. Street Fight operates with editorial independence.

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Mike Boland is Street Fight's lead analyst, author of the Road Map column and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social and emerging tech. More biographical information can be seen at www.mikebo.land
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