Due to the shift in customers’ online shopping behaviors, successful retailers are employing certain tactics to meet – and make the most of – the shift consumers’ needs. Let’s explore five top trends, including social selling, the death of Black Friday, and the growth in mobile commerce with a focus on the opportunities they present for retailers.
During Cyber Week 2014 – the holiday shopping season comprising Black Friday through Cyber Monday – mobile purchases increased 45% over 2013. But mobile’s shining moments weren’t confined to the holiday season. In Q2 of 2014, mobile traffic skyrocketed to 16% of all ecommerce traffic, according to Monetate’s Ecommerce Quarterly report (EQ2 2014). 2015 will be the year mobile emerges as a legitimate purchasing channel – creating real business results for retailers. And mobile experiences will only continue to improve, thanks to advances like in-store and online activation using beacons, and new mobile checkout solutions like Apple Pay and PayPal Mobile Express.
With these advances in mobile technology come higher expectations from shoppers using mobile devices. Customers expect one-click ‘Amazon-like’ payment and super-personalized mobile experiences. Brands must make this a priority this year, with some very specific mobile considerations that create utility and value. For example, bounce rates on mobile are 50% higher than desktop devices, and add-to-cart rates are 30% lower. Personalized, frictionless mobile experiences will yield even bigger business results, helping to turn mobile browsers into mobile buyers.
Brands to “Sell” on Social
With more than 2 billion active social media users, this channel has moved past consumer education to become an integral ecommerce driver. Since consumers rely on networks for pre-purchase research, brands use social media to showcase and introduce new products, build loyalty, and make merchandising decisions. According to a Nielsen study, 84% of consumers are directly influenced by what their social network says about a product. That’s likely why Facebook and Twitter recently debuted “buy” buttons that allow in-feed sales, and why later this year Pinterest will introduce a buy button directing consumers right to the checkout page – boosting business results in the process. With that tool in place, we anticipate that merchants will focus on leading consumers from the discovery phase to a purchase by adding ‘selling’ to the list of offerings on social channels.
Goodbye Black Friday, Hello Cyber Month
In 2014 the holiday season was packed with online deals and discounts that were offered well before and after the traditional shopping week. Many were similar or identical online and in-store deals.
Since brands can now offer more targeted, personalized shopping experiences across digital devices, it’s not surprising that Black Friday is less enticing to consumers every year. In 2015, we expect to see the emergence of ‘Cyber Month’ – a holiday shopping season that offers the same deals, discounts and specials that shoppers have come to love on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, spread out over a month or more. Consumers will expect deals and discounts starting before Thanksgiving and lasting through Christmas, and they will spread out their holiday buying accordingly.
In-store Technology to Influence Digital Marketing Strategies
New in-store technology, including improved point-of-sale systems, iBeacon-enabled hardware and wearables will move toward the mainstream. Already, our retailers import in-store data from CRM and point-of-sale systems into the Monetate platform to enable a more complete view of personalization.
As the technology landscape matures, retailers will be able to look at their customers holistically and they will experiment with these innovations to improve the shopping experience. The impact of combining in-store and online data will make this a critical business requirement for brands’ personalization efforts.
Loyalty Programs to Drive Deeper Personalization
Loyalty program customers are often the most profitable for retailers, so brands should use all the data they have about those customers to drive personalized experiences and enhance the online customer experience. Those programs will drive both immediate sales and lifetime value. Brands should use VIP behaviors and habits to create specifically personalized experiences for valuable customers as they hop between the physical store, phone, Web and other mobile devices.
Because VIPs want and expect a brand to know them, and they respond to customized and relevant interactions across multiple channels, retailers who embrace multichannel personalization will likely see consumers establishing a deeper emotional connection with their brands.
As the landscape for retailers continues to change at an unprecedented pace, one truth will remain consistent: consumers want more personalized experiences.
Lucinda Duncalfe is president and CEO at Monetate.