With the sun shining and current heat wave, it’s hard to believe it, but it’s time to start planning for the winter holidays.
Retailers are beginning to lay out their strategies for a successful holiday season, overflowing with promotions, recommendations, flash sales, free shipping and last-minute shopping ideas. But, at a time when the e-commerce landscape is dramatically evolving, retailers need to be sure they incorporate the latest technologies, trends and consumer preferences into their strategies.
Here are five key trends that will make or break your marketing numbers this holiday season:
- In-the-Moment Evaluation
- Real-Time Personalization
- Monetizing Social Mentions
Retailers need to understand the shoppers’ in-the-moment intent to ensure relevant communications and interactions with consumers at every touch point. For example, a shopper may use the online shopping cart to build a wish list as they shift from browsing on their computer to their phone, to in-store – not necessarily to check out and make a purchase. Understanding this will help retailers avoid sending cart abandonment emails unnecessarily.
Further, leveraging behavior tracking tools on websites, in-app and using beacons, retailers can maintain a 360-degree view. With this omnichannel customer understanding, retailers are able to deduce the shopper’s true intent and deliver, in real time, relevant shopping experiences that make it easy for shoppers to find the right gifts for their family and friends!
Some retailers, such as Macy’s and Walmart, have already deployed geolocation capabilities to better reach their customers while they’re shopping. This holiday season, in-the-know retailers will use geolocation to provide targeted and relevant offers and recommendations to shoppers. This technology offers the ability to deliver messages to shoppers based on their physical location. For instance, you can use it to promote a new store opening, sale or other event, guide a shopper to the nearest brick-and-mortar location, or even let shoppers know the closest store with additional available inventory.
Geolocation, while it has existed for awhile, with enhancements to the technology, is one of the dark-horse technologies this year that provides a great opportunity for retailers to stand out from the competition and improve the customer experience anywhere they are.
Last year, mobile sales accounted for 22.6% of online holiday shopping, according to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark. That’s nearly a quarter of all holiday sales completed on mobile devices. At this stage, it’s do or die when it comes to optimizing the mobile shopping experience.
Shoppers clearly no longer shop just in-store or just online – they use a variety of channels to research, compare and purchase items, and mobile will be one of the most important channels this holiday season – but, not just for purchasing.
Recently, the Consumer Electronics Association found that more than half (58%) of shoppers who use mobile devices prefer to look up information in store than talk to store employees. This indicates a clear opportunity for retailers to create a stickier experience and keep customers on their site or in their app, versus a competitor’s. By shifting the focus to enhancing the customer experience via mobile devices, not just in-store through sales associates, retailers can dramatically improve their operations.
Additionally, as shoppers use their tablets, laptops and smartphones, in tandem with recommendations from friends and retailers’ online reviews and social channels, it’s paramount that retailers ensure every mobile touchpoint with their brand is easy, simple, and perhaps even recognizes the shopper from a previous interaction from any device.
The ability to tailor shopper experiences in real time will separate the marketing “A” teams from the “B” teams. Incorporating past history with the interests and preferences demonstrated by online shoppers can help them find the most relevant products and drive sales.
To make sure this is feasible, marketers need to get a handle on their customer data today so they can use it over the coming months and as we enter the holiday shopping season to gain a better understanding of customers, and deliver more targeted and relevant interactions.
Recently, Researchscape International and Evergage surveyed marketers on their use of personalization and found that 86% of respondents reported lift from their initiatives, and approximately half saw a lift greater than 10%. This is one strategy that should not be overlooked.
Monetizing Social Mentions
Retailers that want to really connect with their customers will incorporate social to evaluate hot topics and trends on social channels to deliver highly relevant experiences.
By analyzing the products and topics that are trending on Twitter, or the items that get the most likes or pins on Pinterest, retailers will be able to promote the items of greatest interest to customers, and help them find similar offerings.
Instagram is one platform to keep a sharp eye on as it, like Pinterest, provides a seamless way for shoppers to like and buy items. Through services such as LiketoKnow.it, users can like a post with items they’d be interested in learning more about, and will receive a link to a page where they can purchase the item – from headphones to shoes.
Retailers can also take social to a new level on their e-commerce sites. Shoppers’ behaviors can implicitly indicate what groups they associate with, and then companies can present products uniquely suited to each shopper based on what those with similar interests are researching, browsing and buying.
If retailers effectively address these key trends and incorporate related strategies into their holiday plans, you’ll find them having a holly jolly season. Wouldn’t you like to join them?
Meera Murthy is the customer success director at Evergage