Seven-Step Action Plan for Winning the Holiday eCommerce Battle
As we discussed in our previous post, Top 3 eCommerce Trends of the Holiday Season, taking advantage of holiday eCommerce traffic is a must for any retailer. Holiday purchases can account for up to 40% of annual sales (National Retail Foundation, 2013). The holidays represent a significant opportunity for brands to reach new customers, more so than any other time of year! Win over first time customers who can bring a lifetime of value—beyond the holidays—to your brand.
How? Ensure your brand is able to target shoppers with the most potential. For example, during the holiday shopping season, the first time customer with high cart value is prime for both immediate gains and long-term business value. The goal is to ensure that this person has an amazing online shopping experience now, to maximize holiday sales, while also fostering a loyal brand advocate for the future.
Here’s your action plan for how to take advantage of the opportunity to reach more customers, provide them with a high-quality online experience, and create life-long customers out of merely website visitors during this critical time of year.
1. Personalize the First-Time Brand Experience
Impress and captivate first time customers with personal and highly relevant content, offers and engagement opportunities. You can echo specific keyword search terms with targeted product landing pages, and then reinforce relevance with a personalized offer or promo to move new visitors closer to purchase. Once they make it to checkout, prioritize those first time customers with a high-cart value for live engagement channels if needed. A smooth, personal experience will make a lasting first impression with first time buyers-- no doubt they’ll come back for more.
2. Show Returning Customers Their Value
Improve brand loyalty by treating returning customers like VIPs. There’s a reason why the song recommends “making your list” and “checking it twice.” Consumers have come to expect the “Amazon experience”, and actually prefer businesses use their past purchase data in exchange for the more personal, efficient browsing experience. What tactics can you implement today to provide the personalized, VIP experience? Consider:
- Smart, auto-fill forms to simplify the checkout or login experience.
- Contextual offers and content, based on returning shoppers’ past purchases. For example, a customer who previously bought a tablet might consider upgrading to the next model, especially if a free case was offered.
- White glove treatment via high touch channel such as video-chat to help loyal customers choose the right product, or get one-on-one consultation with a product expert or service rep.
3. Strategize for Popular Shopping Days
Target popular shopping days, like Cyber Monday, and create special offers to reach this group of shoppers. Consider the earliest shoppers too. Google’s Consumer Surveys (2013) reveal that 30% of those surveyed were expecting to start holiday shopping before Halloween!
Consider pre-peak season promotions, and follow up with early shoppers. Early shoppers lengthen the holiday season—and give your brand even more time to engage. Build personalized, individual relationships throughout the season for your earliest holiday shoppers.
4. Meet the need for speed and efficiency
A quality digital experience starts with a real-time site. The holiday season brings higher traffic and substantial revenue opportunity, so website speed is one of your most important metrics to measure. Speed and efficiency is a critical element for consumers, so it’s essential that brands maintain front-end optimization for faster load times and better overall site performance. Every second matters during the holiday frenzy. Also, consider introducing real-time support channels for customers who simply refuse to wait for assistance before abandoning your site for a competitor’s.
5. Be everywhere your customers want you to be
Customers demand that in-store, social, mobile and onsite engagements merge for a seamless experience. It’s our job to close the gap for a true omni-channel brand experience.
Mobile is huge this holiday: 84% shoppers use smartphones in-store as shopping companions (Google Consumer Surveys, 2013). And more and more consumers will be making this season’s purchases entirely from their phones. Consider how your site is optimized for the mobile shopper, and be sure to place popular holiday items and gift ideas front and center for quicker access.
6. Engage, learn, optimize.. Rinse and repeat
Provide smarter engagement experiences for your customers, and keep track to continually improve processes and operations on the back end for greater company-wide efficiencies.
First, identify key cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Evaluate performance by product, date and customer:
- Product: What were your best sellers? What products were often purchased together? Can you identify whom products could be purchased for so that you can retarget with newer or complementary purchases this year?
- Date: Take inventory of your website’s performance and engagement on popular shopping days in 2012. What days were your customers most active?
Customer: What behaviors lead to the most cart value? Segment and prioritize accordingly, or go a step further with algorithmic-based predictive targeting that dives into each customer on the individual level.
7. Don’t forget the basics
When it comes to online shopping, there are basic elements that every shopper wants in their shopping experience. When LivePerson examined what creates an ideal online shopping experience earlier this year with our global consumer survey, it was discovered that one of the leading reasons for cart abandonment was the lack of clear information about shipping costs (70%). Providing easy access to important product and purchasing information should be an easy win for any retailer.
Another basic element not to be neglected is purely and simply, friendly service. In the same report, 45% of those surveyed said that interacting with a friendly customer service agent is the most important requirement for great customer service. Your service agents, whether they be chat agents, telephone agents or in-store should be armed with the tools to provide a helpful, friendly experience to your customers.
The businesses that are most successful are those that are able to identify what digital engagement methods worked and what didn't—then continually use actionable data to evolve this year’s holiday strategy. Integrate that insight with the latest digital engagement management technologies to meet your most potentially valuable customers with your best, live resources.
Is your brand optimized to deliver an outstanding customer experience this holiday season? Have you made any changes to your digital marketing strategy based on lessons from the 2012 holiday eCommerce season? Share with us in the comments below.