The holiday season is just around the corner, and retailers face the busiest time of year with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the frenzied shopping days in between until December 25. It’s no secret that a tremendous amount of pre-planning is required, but are your efforts focused on the right areas of your business?
Aside from bringing the holiday magic alive in-store and giving your website a ho-ho-holiday makeover, there are five ecommerce trends that retailers can’t ignore if they want this year’s holiday season to be profitable.
1. Mobile first, mobile everything
Mobile device adoption is expected to reach 90 percent in the US this year, and tablet adoption is predicted to surpass 40 percent. For those of us who “live” on our phones and tablets, shopping mobile has become an integral way of life. Between 30 and 50 percent of online traffic is now coming from mobile devices, which means ecommerce retailers must respond quickly to customer demands in ways that suit the mobile user.
By engaging via digital channels, ecommerce sites become more accessible and capable of bringing the personalized brick-and-mortar experience to the online shopper. For example, according to a recent study, 62 percent of customers expect live chat to be available on mobile devices, and 82 percent would use it. This is a huge opportunity for ecommerce retailers, as online chat can significantly enhance the mobile customer’s journey and increase satisfaction with their shopping experience.
2. Engage with your customer across all channels
It’s important to establish a meaningful connection with customers across every communication channel, whether it’s web self-service, email or chat. The key is to understand the context of the engagement.
For example, who is the customer? Leverage customer behavioral data to develop customer personas so that you can anticipate a new customers’ intent based on what other “like” customers have done. What is the customer trying to accomplish? Are they on their mobile, tablet or PC? Evaluate real-time behavior to determine intent including search terms, referral sources, pages viewed and clicks.
Also, look for evidence that a visitor might be struggling on a webpage. Has the customer received an error message on a page? A pause on webpage with no activity signals a customer may need help.
This kind of insight is critical to delivering a highly relevant customer interaction that provides the best experience possible and fosters better relationships. With this type of knowledge, online retailers can give every consumer a personalized experience based on the specifics of their persona and digital journey.
3. Being proactive counts
A phone number and a variety of ways to contact or engage your customer is only the first step. When customers are open to contact, leverage traditional and digital channels to proactively engage on a personal level and provide meaningful help. For example, if behavior indicates that a customer is struggling on a web page, use that moment to engage.
A great place to focus this type of engagement is on the checkout page. Most buyers encounter issues at the checkout stage and streamlining that process will boost conversion rates. If the customer accidentally inputs the last four digits of his or her Social Security number instead of the credit card security number when filling out the payment text boxes, offer a proactive chat to provide guidance. This simple proactive engagement can mean the difference between the sale and an abandoned shopping cart.
4. Traffic isn’t generation or gender specific
Younger, more tech-savvy generations are often seen as more apt to shop online or on mobile devices, and recent statistics identify men as the new power shoppers. However, data also suggests the love of mobile devices and online shopping transcends gender and generations.
eMarketer reports that many baby boomers have introduced a digital element to their shopping process, and according to Prosper Insights & Analytics, nearly half do research online before going to a store. In fact, boomers are more likely than millennials to visit consumer websites and use them as primary sources for shopping research.
Long story short: Don’t limit yourself by focusing on just one generation or gender. Make the ecommerce experience welcoming to everyone.
5. Bridge the gap between the in-store and digital experience
For retailers that have both an ecommerce and brick-and-mortar presence, it pays to create seamless customer engagements that leverage the best of both worlds. Retailers must aim to deliver the same level of information in-store that is available online, while also providing online shoppers with the in-store human touch.
Think about the customer who visits your mobile site, engages in an online chat and decides to purchase a product, but doesn’t want to wait for it to be delivered. Don’t limit a customer’s experience because of their location. Instead, leverage geo location capabilities with chat, so the agent can easily provide a nearby location for the customer picking up the item.
By implementing these tips, you can have a far merrier holiday season. Not only will you improve your overall holiday strategy and increase the odds that you will meet or exceed your seasonal and end-of-year sales goals, but you will deliver the level of service customers now expect and deserve. By making your customers’ holiday shopping experience an enjoyable one, you’ll find that they will be back for more once the holidays are long gone.