A 2018 Internet Marketing survey of more than 1,000 eCommerce firms found that nearly nine out of ten businesses expect Q4 to be the biggest and busiest time of the year.
With more revenue driving holidays than any other season, the last three months of the calendar year represent a crucial time for brands across the entire retail industry. Now is the time to maximize all revenue streams, such as your online store, mobile app, social media, and physical storefronts.
Having holiday success however is not simply attained by reassessing your eCommerce strategies. This can be overcome and achieved by better understanding the evolving consumer, and adapting your brand to meet those demands.
The face of the holiday shopper has changed recently. A group of 75 million millennials, have about 2 billion dollars in spending power each year. Millennials demand a different shopping experience than the Baby Boomer audience. This digitally savvy audience wants technology weaved throughout their shopping experience to make it more efficiently possible to shop on their schedule. Whereas the Baby Boomer primarily prefers in-store and customer experience as being the purchasing driver. Appealing to both consumer groups is key to getting the most out of this year’s holiday season.
So how can retailers prepare for the upcoming season and this technologically acute consumer group?
Our team has compiled a list of several innovative actions brands can take to ensure the holiday season delivers a huge boost for their bottom line:
1. Get Your Stock On Lock
You probably have a good idea of what products will fly-off the shelves at your stocking retailers within the next few months. With the holiday season just around the corner, now is the time to stock up on all of your most popular items.
When it comes to holiday retail, there’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve underestimated the supply to fill your consumer’s needs. Having out-of-stock issues during high points of selling, can really take a blow to your overall sales and leave consumers dissatisfied with your brand.
"These are items that customers have demonstrated they want to buy from you and that you simply can't afford to run out of before the season ends," says Ted Hurlbut, Principal of Hurlbut & Associates, a merchandising and inventory management consulting firm. Shift your focus from being fully assorted to being narrow and deep by identifying those key items.
2. Ditch the Discounts
Discounts are a great way to lure in potential buyers, but does cause a loss in overall sales revenue. By making the consumer feel known, in lieu of simply offering a discount, your brand will boost sales and avoid losing profits due to reduced prices.
In fact, according to a 2017 BI Intelligence Survey, 40% of shoppers report that they’ve spent more money on a purchase than planned because of a personalized shopping experience.
The consumer is constantly being disrupted by mass communications from retailers. By personalizing your promotions and recommendations, you’ll convince consumers to purchase products from your brand, versus a competitor selling similar products.
Personalization also presents a huge in-store opportunity for brands, according to the BI Intelligence Survey from 2017, 41% of shoppers said they’d like a sales associate to be able to see their online shopping history in-store. However, less than 20% of shoppers have actually experience this in a storefront.
Companies like Target have begun utilizing mobile apps to push individualized offers in-store. Target’s Cartwheel app provides in-store discounts based on a consumer’s previous storefront purchases.
3. Supplement Your Social
Not only does social media influence what people buy through recommendations, a full 30% of consumers say they would make a purchase through Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, according to a 2018 BigCommerce Survey.
To adequately prepare your social media channels your brand must begin planning and generating content well in advance. Create a schedule that maps out the weeks and months of the holiday season. Make sure your brand is ready for the four biggest shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday with exclusive sales alerts and promotions ready-to-go.
Another great way to engage consumers is through your social media channels. Social media serves as a resource and not just a sales pitch. Social media can offer you direct insight on your audiences shopping list, and how to get consumers excited about the holidays and your brand.
According to a 2018 SproutSocial Survey, 60% of Facebook users and 79% of Twitter users say they are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends after interacting with that brand on a social network.
4. Hire Some Helping Hands
Since the holiday season is such a busy time, it’s likely that much of your staff will be out and that more consumers will be flooding your sales channels. Long lines and on the phone wait times can discourage consumers from buying and often this doesn't paint the best description of how your brand communicates.
A 2016 BizReport, found that 75% of customers state that they consider customer service a true test of a company’s competence.
Consumer experience is an area that holds high expectations in the eyes of consumers, but is often overlooked by brands during the busy purchasing season. Offering excellent knowledge and assistance is crucial to efficiently maximizing both your offline and online channels.
In fact, the 2017 Social Habit Report found that 32% of respondents who attempted to contact a brand or company through social media for customer support, expect a response within 30 minutes. Is your company equipped to handle social media inquiries within the hour?
Consumers now demand around-the-clock support. When hiring extra help, keep in mind that during the holiday season, it is vital to keep a positive brand image. You can ensure success by preparing early and having all aspects of the purchasing process covered. By doing so, your brand will be ready to take on the holiday season with ease.
"The more agile retailers are in meeting consumers’ demands for the seamless convergence of physical and digital shopping, the more success they will see,” said ICSC President, and CEO Tom McGee.
In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that October is when 22% of consumers start shopping. Now is the time to set your brand up for success during the upcoming season. The holiday’s offer an opportunity for your brand to shine and stand out to consumers. Questions and assistance on how to maximize your sales channels, please visit us online at www.Quivers.com.