24 November, 2021

New Cin7 Study: Spotting the Selling Opportunities this Holiday Season

Table with laptop and gift boxes with sale tags on table in warehouse. Online ecommerce retail business black friday discounts deals, free shipping. Best buy holiday offers concept storage background.

It’s that time of year again. But for many product sellers, there’s an unexpected Grinch preventing holiday gifts from making their way to customers: the supply chain.

Supply chain delays have been making headlines for nearly two years. Starting with drastic shortages and hoarding, through the Ever Given and the backlog of container ships off the California coast, the ongoing string of bottlenecks has caused frustration for unsuspecting consumers and headaches for product sellers. There’s a mainstream perception of the supply chain as increasingly unreliable and unnecessarily expensive.

These disruptions have shaped product seller actions going into the holiday season. Sellers have embraced early Black Friday kick-offs and warning consumers to get their holiday shopping done early to avoid shipping delays and shortages. But are consumers paying attention to their advice?

According to a recent survey from Cin7, the answer is yes. We surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to help us better understand how Americans view the latest supply disruptions and their sentiment around the industry overall. The results can help guide how product sellers navigate the end of a tumultuous shopping season and adapt their inventory practices as a result.

The topline takeaways include:

They’re Shopping Earlier

58% of people are aware of supply chain delays and have shifted their shopping behavior as a result. Over half of respondents (55%) started their holiday shopping within the September/October timeframe, with only 25% of consumers waiting for the unofficial kick-off of Black Friday deals to hit before actually purchasing gifts.

But their changed behavior came with a tradeoff for product sellers to execute on their orders: while 65% of consumers expect to pay more this holiday season, 53% would return the purchase and want a refund if it didn’t arrive in time for the holidays.

They’re Shopping Local

Consumers may have moved up their shopping timetable, but the majority are still worried about shopping online. In fact, only 25% of shoppers DON’T have concerns about online shopping – the top concerns being the cost of shipping, speed of shipping and package theft.

In response, 87% of respondents are making the effort to shop local and shop at small businesses. 47% are doing so more than last year, 40% noting about the same. The majority of people (55%) are also paying attention to the location/locality of where their purchases are coming from. And 63% of people would prefer to see and touch a product in-person before buying it.

People don’t buy small and local, however, because they’re necessarily woke to Amazon or wary of big retail. Only 14% of people don’t shop at Amazon because of ethical or environmental concerns. In fact, 49% don’t have any concerns at all, and 31% have concerns but still shop on Amazon.

For product sellers, it’s critical to understand how consumer behavior is shifting this holiday shopping season. They can adapt to shifts by having a variety of channels and options to make all buying possibilities a reality for consumers. And for those consumers making more of an effort to shop small and local, product sellers must lean into this sentiment to navigate the tail end of the shopping season that has the potential to go “out with a bang” beyond Small Business Saturday.

As Product Sellers move to adapt to the “new normal” of consumer behavior and look to have continued success in the future, it is critical that they have the solution infrastructure to successfully scale their business. With more businesses taking advantage of eCommerce to expand their offering by channel and region – utilizing the right software to handle inventory and order management is crucial to an efficient multichannel operation. Adequate planning, management and execution of supply chain movements will ensure fulfillment capabilities across multiple channels and help suppliers take advantage of larger customer bases.

We’ve all been impacted by supply chain challenges, but it’s the season of good cheer after all. By diversifying inventory and changing selling strategies in response to consumer behavior, this tumultuous holiday season can still be merry and bright.

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