Peak sales times put to the test by Covid

Cyril Blondel
Posted on 15 January 2021 by Cyril Blondel
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As the winter sales of January 2021 will take place in an ever-changing environment for both online and in-store retailers, let's take stock of what's changing for peak sales times in the Covid-19 era.

How have retailers adapted to this crisis and what are the lessons to be learnt for tomorrow's peak sales times? Is e-commerce the only form of retail that is doing well? How can physical commerce respond to new consumer expectations?

Despite the crisis, the 2020 Black Friday was not just digital!

It was obviously a Black Friday like no other, which took place last November when commerce had been suffering from the effects of the health crisis for many months. In France, only 60% of the brands presented deals for Black Friday, Friday 4th December 2020, against 76% in 2019.1 Many retailers cancelled their operations, with a view to preserving their margins, or advocating more responsible business.

Consumers were still keen, however, particularly in preparation for the festive season. Among the striking phenomena of this occasion we should emphasise a change in consumption habits: while buyers did indeed take advantage of this Black Friday, they did it differently. First of all, they unsurprisingly, as since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, made more purchases online – health restrictions made this a must. Of the retailers who are Dalenys2 customers, the increase in the number of transactions compared to Black Friday 2019 was +51% in e-commerce, while conversely we saw a 14% decrease in the number of in-store transactions.

These figures, however, are weighted by the amounts of transactions made in connection with these purchases: consumers went to the shops less often, but made purchases for higher amounts. They therefore grouped their purchases so that they went out as little as possible. In fact, despite the decrease in the number of transactions, the amount of off-line transactions increased by 12% compared to last year for the same period!

For the next peak sales season, what strategies for retailers?

The Covid-19 crisis and the adaptations it has brought about in the face of shop closures have helped to transform consumers' relationships with digital commerce, making them more open to it. But there has been a real paradigm shift: the shop is becoming the cornerstone of this digitisation. Multiple channels, combining click and mortar models, are very popular. Thus for 80% of French people, click & collect is set to last, according to a Dalenys/Opinion Way survey conducted in November 2020.3

But that's not all – consumers have more and more expectations for 2021 in terms of the digitisation of commerce: according to the same survey, more than 7 out of 10 French people are interested in at least one innovative digital solution for buying or paying in shops. 27% of them would like to be able to get a refund for purchases made online in shops and vice versa. 30% of French people would like to be able to pay at a point of sale and be reimbursed or exchange a product in another shop of the same chain.

And during peak sales periods, the influx of consumers crystallises all these problems: time spent in the shop and at the checkout, ease of browsing and payment on the e-commerce site, options for exchanges or refunds, etc.

To continue to attract consumers, here are a few tips to follow depending on whether you are an online retailer and/or have physical shops:

When it comes to payment, it is therefore crucial for the platform used by the retailer to be both robust – to handle, reliably, large fluctuations in the number of transactions – and to have multiple channels – to cope with new purchasing behaviour. This is the sine qua non condition to succeed in offering these customer experiences, and to move towards a unified commerce that will meet the expectations of consumers.

1 Of the top 100 LSA. Madame Benchmark examined, for LSA, the systems of the 100 largest distributors present in the LSA rankings.,367168
2 Source: Dalenys Analytics
3 Source: OpinionWay survey for Dalenys

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