photo of a single woman shopping in mall with mask on

Pulling purchases forward: Your key to holiday 2020 success

The next four months will continue to dramatically alter the omnichannel landscape. The coronavirus pandemic and flu season will create holiday shopping challenges that will stretch businesses—either to a breaking point or to new heights of flexibility and operational excellence. 

Like an elite athlete, your business will need to be nimble to score a winning holiday season. The key to getting there? Helping shoppers pull their purchases forward more than in previous years. 

This will enable you to offset local restrictions on the number of in-store shoppers while spreading your holiday traffic over a longer period. It can also reduce or avoid late-November online shopping surges that could strain your fulfillment infrastructure. What’s more, nearly a third of shoppers already expect to do their holiday buying earlier than usual to avoid shipping delays or inventory shortages. Why not make it easier for others to join in?

Here are five ways you can help shoppers pull their purchases forward this holiday season, so you can get in shape for the win:

  1. Lead with the best deals early. You can entice shoppers with heavily promoted deals starting as early as October. Encouraging shoppers to secure their most-wanted purchases early will help ease strain on fulfillment centers and provide a time cushion in case of shipping delays. Also, the October timing of Amazon’s Prime Day will usher in widespread holiday shopping and may motivate people to compare similar items—and deals—on your site or in your store during that time.

  2. Use digital tools to anticipate demand spikes. Leverage interactive polls on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter to anticipate what shoppers are looking for. You can also use a tool like Google’s Rising Retail Categories to monitor searches of key brands or categories in different geographic areas to see what’s trending at the top of customers’ lists. Insights you get from this data can also shape your promotions to attract shoppers.

  3. Rely on wish lists for strategic guidance. Encourage shoppers to mark favorites, like Target and other large retailers do. You can then use wish list functionality on your site and apps to aggregate intent about high-priority items and manage your inventory. You can also send holiday-themed reminders that nudge customers to buy what’s remaining on their list.

  4. Incentivize quicker pickups: Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) activity is expected to surge in the last two months of the year, and you can avoid potential backups by incentivizing customers to pick up their orders as quickly as possible. This is a twist on the common delivery service practice of charging more during high-demand periods. Offering a discount or loyalty points for picking up orders within a specified time window can help you manage store traffic in a customer-friendly way.

  5. Make it easier to buy: Affordability is a priority for many people this season, and many shoppers are using buy now, pay later (BNPL) options like Affirm to stay within their budgets. In fact, about 1 in 5 millennials has made BNPL purchases due to the coronavirus crisis. Affirm gives shoppers flexible, simple, and transparent pay-over-time options that make purchases more affordable. Retailers who partner with us can expect up to an 85% increase in average order value

Despite the obstacles facing retailers this holiday season, successful results are more than possible. Just think of the rewards waiting at the finish line—including higher sales volume, customer satisfaction, and repeat shoppers—and you’ll find that an investment in pulling purchases forward is probably well worth it. 

Learn more about how Affirm can increase sales for your business this holiday season.