With the winter peak season just around the corner and forecasters struggling to predict consumers’ quirky, post-pandemic shopping habits, American brands and retailers are hoping to fulfill orders through increasingly flexible omnichannel patterns, according to the third party logistics provider (3PL) Radial.
Weary retailers have already spent two years trying to stay afloat strained pandemic and supply chain woes, yet they now face another uphill battle this holiday season, Radial said. Consumer spending has become more selective, even as shoppers continue their demands for more speedy delivery timeframes.
In response, retailers will seek to match the burst of holiday demand through blended fulfillment channels, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Radial said. The conclusion comes from a consumer study which surveyed 1,000 adults across the U.S. to gather insights around their plans and expectations for the 2022 peak season.
“The retail sector has undergone significant unpredictability and digital acceleration over the last two years. Supply chain disruptions and evolving consumer behaviors have shifted a formularized market, into a dynamic one. The impact of inflation introduces a new variable for brands to plan and strategize around this year,” Laura Ritchey, Chief Operating Officer and EVP at Radial, said in a release. “To ensure peak operations run smoothly, it is essential that brands focus on inventory management and measure against consumer demand. The need for sound omnichannel offerings will ensure customers get a great experience regardless of the channel from which their order is fulfilled.”
Survey results showed that nearly half (46%) of consumers said they will shop the same amount in-store this year compared to 2021, but 58% said they would increase their use of online purchases, an 8% rise from last year’s survey.
At the same time, new fulfillment options that became popular during the pandemic are sticking around. One in three consumers anticipates increasing their buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) usage, and 30% say they expect increasing buy online pick-up at curbside (BOPAC) when shopping this holiday season.
Regardless of channel, the total revenue generated will likely follow similar consumer demand as previous years, despite challenges like rising inflation, varying gas prices, and troubled stock markets. Respondents said that 38% will modify the volume of gifts they purchase, but that trend was counter-balanced by the 40% who still plan to buy the same amount of gifts as last year.
Other results showed that shoppers expect fast package delivery now more than ever, with one in three (33%) consumers saying that the most reasonable timeline for when they expect holiday gifts ordered online to be delivered is two-to-three days. That number is up from 23% in 2021 and 14% in 2020 research.
Despite those soaring expectations, consumers in the survey still found room to complain about their top frustrations from last year’s holiday shopping spree. The top challenges listed were:
• 66% of consumers experienced items being out of stock
• 40% said they did not receive items on time
• 39% of respondents noted that items were not available via the preferred channel they wanted to purchase them (i.e., not available in-store, online, or through another pick-up method)