Creating the Festive Experience Online
Although retail saw record-breaking internet traffic many were forced to close their doors due to an all-time decline in brick and mortar sales. As we approach the end of the year, a successful holiday shopping season is the difference between success and failure for many retailers. Because of long-standing regulations and capacity restrictions that impede on a traditional holiday shopping season, an optimized digital experience is critical to delighting customers to keep them coming back.
While online shopping hasn’t traditionally allowed for the same sensory experience in-store shopping provides, a few minor tweaks can aid in bringing the festive cheer online. Check out these five ideas for creating a festive online shopping experience.
#1: Special Hours
With many retailers offering special hours in-store for vulnerable customers to shop, why not bring this experience online? By gating off early access or special shopping hours for your most valuable customers, like those who have signed up for your loyalty program or opened a credit card, you are creating exclusivity and excitement. Customers will feel like they are getting first access to their needed sizes and items while you can enroll more customers in your loyalty program prior to the shopping range.
This strategy can be a game changer during high volume shopping seasons, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.
#2: Utilize Data
While data isn’t exactly the kind of holiday magic you are looking to create online, it is a unique tool that allows for that magic to be achieved. According to data from Gartner, two-thirds of companies believe they compete mostly on customer experience. This means it is vital for your experience to stand out from the others, so using the same mill of the trade By utilizing your data to create a more preference-driven shopping experience, you will delight customers while learning more about their unique behaviors.
One way to do this is by paying attention to a customer’s previous shopping history with your brand and drive personalized product recommendations from this. For example, if a customer frequents your website to look at children’s apparel in a size medium, try displaying that size and category when a customer enters your site. This translates to a customer having their go-to section in your store, all while easily allowing them to navigate through your website.
Another option is to implement push notifications and retained shopping carts for abandoned items. Customers are undoubtedly cross-checking prices on various websites this holiday season. Knowing this, by keeping their items in their cart, you are enabling them to quickly check out when they land back on your site. This increases the likelihood that they will purchase with you versus your competitors.
#3: Multiple Fulfillment Options
As customers adjust to a digital-first experience, some are more comfortable shopping with retailers who offer multiple fulfillment options versus a simple delivery option. BOPIS and curbside options have seen increased adoption over the last few months as customers desire to venture out of their homes to stores while maintaining contactless processes.
Implementing a curbside process to your current order fulfillment strategies can easily be up and running in a matter of weeks, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Curbside processes allow customers to shop online but still receive the in-person interaction with your brand that they have come to expect.
Another fulfillment option is flexible delivery. Although many customers are frequenting their homes far more than usual, there is still the chance that they will be out of town or away from home when their product delivers. By allowing customers to schedule their delivery, as well as efficiently track their order, the burden on your supply chain for immediate deliveries is lessened while providing peace of mind to your customers.
#4: Multiple Communication Options
Similar to multiple fulfillment options, customers who are adjusting to a digital-first experience need additional access to communication with your brand to answer any questions or roadblocks they run into. When a customer has a question, they want to be met with a quick response in the format that they prefer. Whether that is by email, phone, text, social media message, or virtual assistant, offering multiple channels for communication is key to keeping customers merry this holiday season. According to Salesforce, 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business.
Communication channels are not one-size-fits-all, as a channel that works best for one customer may not be the best for another. Pay attention to your customer base and how they most frequently contact your brand. Also, pay attention to targeting demographics to see what additional channels may be best suited for your market.
#5: Revamp Your Website
While revamping your website seems like a given this time of year, truly delivering a festive experience goes beyond adding holiday-themed banners. By using data such as heatmaps and year-over-year data of which pages are most visited, your brand has the marching orders of which pages and sections to prioritize on your website. Hot deals, such as Black Friday featured items, should be easily navigable.
Pay attention to website load times. Knowing that your website will be supporting increased traffic, ensure that your webpages load correctly and quickly. Customers want to look at your products and prices quickly, and a slow-loading webpage likely increases the chances of customers taking their money elsewhere. The ideal load time for peak conversions is no more than 2.7 seconds (and every 100-millisecond delay above that can reduce conversion by up to 7 percent). It is also important to ensure the mobile experience your brand is offering is up to par with the experience delivered from a computer.
Also, take the time to keep your product feed as updated as possible to present which items are available versus not. Nothing is more frustrating to customers than thinking they scored a great deal only to find that the item or size they need is out of stock.
A Festive Online Shopping Season
While the festive experience of in-store shopping is difficult to duplicate online, taking the above steps into account will aid in delivering the highest quality experience to your customers this holiday season.
To learn more about products to delight your customers this holiday season and beyond, click here.