With just a week to go until Black Friday signals the start of the holiday season, we’ve put together three key areas all retailers should consider to maximize their return during this peak period. Featuring guest comment from Dimension Data, Valantic and our own key recommendations these are your last minute tips for this joyful season.
Deck the Halls with More Products and Better Prices
Last year, consumer spending increased by 17.8% in November and December, fuelled by consumer confidence and a successful Black Friday. As retailers prepare for what promises to be another record-breaking year, they should keep in mind consumers’ holiday shopping expectations, which are at unprecedented levels as a result of the extensive choices offered by online retailers.
Our new holiday survey found 55% of consumers have stopped shopping with a retailer after finding a competitor with a better selection of products, with a notable 70% of Gen Z consumers admitting to making the switch. Additionally, 80% of holiday shoppers said they will turn to another retailer if their preferred items are out of stock. To avoid losing shoppers – and potential loyal customers – this holiday season, retailers need to prioritize their product and pricing strategies to capitalize on the surge in sales, create a delightful customer experience, and keep loyal customers while gaining new ones.
Respond to trends and provide shoppers with choice
Offering more product choices allows retailers to initially capture the attention of potential shoppers. To cater to customers’ preference for extensive choice, retailers can create an endless aisle by using third-party sellers to provide contingency for popular products. Whether it be an Instant Pot, a pair of Nikes in the right color and size, or Nintendo Switch, retailers can leverage their seller networks to capitalize on the hottest holiday gifts without having to commit to added stock or overhead.
Additionally, more than half of shoppers surveyed said they would be interested in purchasing services alongside their products. Imagine buying an instrument and music lessons at the same time. Imagine buying new hiking boots alongside a guided hike. Envision a new retail where you don’t just sell products, but the services that help people get the most out of them. It’s not only a better (and more convenient) shopping experience for buyers, but it allows retailers to become a bigger part of the customers journey, in turn creating more loyal customers.
Drive more traffic – online and in-store
The increase in online shopping orders has further altered the traditional holiday shopping scene – for consumers and retailers, alike. According to the survey, 13% of U.S. shoppers said they do all of their holiday shopping online. Meanwhile, 55% of the most online-heavy age demographic, 25-34-year olds, claimed to do more than three quarters of their shopping online. With consumers visiting online sites more frequently, retailers can offer ‘click-and-collect’ services to increase in-store traffic and drive additional sales by positioning impulse items such as stocking stuffers near the in-store collection point.
Avoid out-of-stocks and be experimental
Leveraging a network of sellers to increase holiday inventory helps reduce the risk of a customer discovering the perfect gift for a loved one only to find it’s out of stock, a problem 39% of shoppers who took the survey experienced last holiday season while shopping online. Using a seller network, retailers can also test new products and brands online at no risk, then source directly from those sellers for in-store inventory. This can be done at a higher profit margin than dropship or owned product sales, allowing the retailer to win on all fronts.
Whatever the strategy, it’s key that retailers ensure they have the product assortment and availability shoppers desire. If the product can’t be found on physical or digital shelves, retailers risk a lot more than holiday sales.
For more insights on holiday spending, download our latest eBook.
CEO and Co-Founder at Mirakl
Keep your checkout process simple!
Simplicity and practicality win during the peak season.
#1 Streamline your checkout process on desktop and mobile. Remove the clutter. Make sure you are not leading shoppers to a dead-end; check all key user journeys.
#2 Show progress is important for not losing shoppers along the way. Always show where shoppers are in the buying process. And also show them how close they are to place the order.
#3 Keep the back button functional; many people use the back button in their browser.
#4 Be transparent (and real-time) with inventory. Direct shoppers to alternative products rather than disappointing them at the end of the checkout.
#5 Provide a vast range of payment options and ask for card information last. Shoppers will be more inclined to complete payment information after everything else is finalised.
#6 Lastly, follow up with an order confirmation email right after the order placement. Inform your shoppers about shipping information as well as means to connect with you in case they have questions or queries.
Head of Digital at Dimension Data
Don’t let the Customer Experience be weak at the peak!
Peak season shopping can be a horrible experience – carrying heavy bags through crowded shops and streets easily destroys the pleasure of shopping. Thankfully, e-commerce allows customers to buy stress-free from home. To ensure the online-shopping pleasure of your customers even during peak season, think of the key success factor:
Customer Experience first!
Why is this so important? Customers equate brands with experiences. The association with a brand is based on how it makes customers feel. And this depends on customers’ expectations. So, be consistent and always have the ideal customer experience in mind when preparing for peak season.
What is the ideal customer experience? Simple: The one that is tightly aligned with your brand messaging and that makes it as frictionless as possible for the customers to achieve their individual objectives.
To ensure a great experience for your customers, don’t just think about the user experience of your website but focus also on end-to-end customer experience. CX includes more than your online channels, it is about every interaction the customer has with your company, pre-and post-purchase. It starts from advertising to sales processes and includes product delivery and returns. So creating the complete customer experience is far more than addressing website speed and design, it involves the whole customer process. This could include an email campaign that creates customer engagement, website development and great product presentation as well as fast delivery, even reliable information on delivery schedules. Each component has to tie into each other to provide a seamless experience.
Customer experience is an all-time issue for your company and you should always have in mind that customer expectations don’t change during peak season, so why should their experience change?
Head of Marketing at valantic CEC Deutschland GmbH
Written by Laura Hare
UK Marketing Lead, Mirakl