As retailers weather the holiday shopping season, they can learn a lot about consumer buying behavior to prepare for next year’s holiday season.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay noted: “Unlike ten years ago, we live in a world in which you can shop anywhere at any time. It’s no longer about one day, but a season of digital deals.” With this long game perspective, we took a closer look at two recent surveys,National Retail Federation’s Cyber Monday Expectations Survey and the SAP Retail Index, to identify trends retailers should use next year.

Consumer Preference No. 1

Interestingly, the year over year results indicate that fewer shoppers plan to shop online during Cyber Monday in 2015, 121 million, vs. 2014, 126.9 million.

Retailer Takeaway No. 1

Plan promotions as a season of digital deals to capture the bigger window of time that consumers spend shopping. Retailers like REI received positive customer feedback for their “#optoutside” campaign and respect for holiday time. This was a savvy strategy that provided a win-win for both the retailer, who increased the window of shopping time, and their customers, who did not give up holiday time to get deals. More on REI in this video.

Consumer Preference No. 2

The in-store experience is more important than ever to consumers, who can purchase most products without ever entering a store.

Retailer Takeaway No. 2

Retailers are investing in the in-store experience, having hired more sales and sales-related staff between 2004 and 2014.* In fact, the SAP Retail Index found that “97 percent of retailers surveyed cited in-store experience as a key area of focus over the next three years.” The in-store experience is one of the key differentiators for retailers and should be part of their plans for next year.

Consumer Preference No. 3

Consumers prefer brands that deliver a consistently positive experience – it becomes a relationship that the consumer values because the brand enhances the consumers day to day quality of life.

Retailer Takeaway No. 3

Retailers need to identify how their brand can improve their customers quality of life during next year’s holiday shopping season. A 360 view of the customer can help the retailer identify why their current customers are loyal to their brand. This could provide the insights the retailer needs to develop relevant services for next year. An example is available in this video on how Burberry is combining their Transactional, Customer, POS and Social Media data to provide a seamless brand experience for their customers.

The Bottom Line

While retailers continue to be challenged by dramatic shifts in customer behavior, money talks and consumers are expressing their preferences with their wallets. By following the money, retailers can adapt the way they sell to their customers. This is one of the best bets a retailer can make to capitalize on changes in consumer behavior.

Interested in learning more about SAP Retail and our Retail customers like the examples shared here? Request a meeting and visit us during NRF 2016.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics 2004–2014
Top image via Shutterstock