You may not have started shopping for gifts yet, but data shows holiday shoppers are getting an early start this year, with the majority recently starting by Cyber Monday.
To make the most of the holiday season, retailers need to pay close attention to consumer behaviours so they can adjust appropriately, writes Michelle Tinsley, director of the retail sales teams: Americas for Intel.
As omnichannel shopping becomes increasingly common — especially for activities like holiday gift research — retailers will need to look beyond what’s going on in stores. E-commerce can also provide critical insights for businesses that can be applied both online and in brick-and-mortar locations.
Here are four key behaviours to monitor as the holiday shopping season progresses, as well as some ways technology can help retailers make the most of what they learn

Hot products
The highest priority shopping behaviour to monitor early in the holiday season is what’s popular. What products are flying off the shelves? Were you prepared for this? Do you need more inventory? When items sell rapidly early on is information that helps retailers forecast the rest of the season and order more stock.
To know what products are selling where, retailers can invest in technology such as the Intel Responsive Retail Platform, which provides a comprehensive view of operations, including inventory. For high-volume products, inventory accuracy is incredibly important, so customers aren’t disappointed by empty shelves or out of stock messages.
Plus, going beyond inventory to monitor logistics and internal order fulfilment will help identify any additional problems.

Foot traffic
This metric isn’t new, but it’s certainly important. Knowing how many people are entering physical stores helps retailers assess the effectiveness of advertising and marketing campaigns, displays, digital signage, and more. When businesses have this data in hand early in the shopping season, they can make adjustments to increase traffic as needed.
These days, technology can even reveal traffic patterns people take within stores to inform store layouts and holiday display locations.

E-commerce analytics
Consumers are increasingly shopping online for the holidays, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It does mean, though, that retailers should pay close attention to what’s happening in their online stores to identify areas for improvement.
Abandoned cart data and information about visitors who don’t convert can reveal problems with the website’s format or the checkout process. Retailers can also get a sense of who’s interested in their products heading into the holidays by studying online analytics data.
It’s also worth noting that while you may want foot traffic in stores, it’s wise to convince e-commerce shoppers to convert online whenever possible. Incentivizing online shoppers to come into stores to complete their purchases often leads to fewer sales. Online shopping tools like chatbots can help people complete purchases online.
You might also want to consider offering buy online, pick up in-store as an option this year since consumers are increasingly interested in this alternative when it’s convenient for them.

Surprising data
Another top behaviour to pay attention to: anything unexpected. Maybe there’s a product you weren’t expecting to sell well, but it’s exceeding projections. Maybe the opposite is true for another product. Perhaps your online store suggests a certain line of products is getting a lot of attention, but not selling.
The possibilities are endless, but when something happens that surprises you, it’s worth noting. When the data reveals something you didn’t plan for, it could be time to take action and change course for the rest of the holiday shopping season.