Since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer behavior around the holidays has radically changed, and a majority of customers are now shopping online.
In fact, 57% of customers shopped online during the 2021 holiday season. Moreover, eCommerce sales will hit $224.31 billion during the holiday season this year - this figure is projected to grow from $211.41 billion during the same period in 2021.
The eCommerce industry relies on Cyber Monday and Black Friday to kick off the ideal sales season. The only challenge is that these shopping days are essential to more than just your business - your competitors also have their eyes set on these.
By: Jake Rheude, Red Stag Fulfillment
So, how can eCommerce businesses be more proactive in overcoming the competition?
To become the go-to store for shoppers, you will need to engage with them. Make the shopping experience innovative, accessible, flexible, and strategic. Also, include options that suit customer needs, and in doing so, have the best holiday season yet!
1) Preparing for shipping delays
Here’s a safe bet: during the holiday season, you will face shipment issues like delays due to supply chain issues, labor shortages, inaccurate information, etc. Note that with more than a week’s delivery time, 38% of online customers cancel their orders. This rate falls as the delay duration decreases.
You can optimize retail operations to avoid delays as follows:
- Maintain consistent communications. After any purchase customers expect to receive frequent updates on their order status. Maintaining open lines of communication with clients aids in the development of trust. Retailers must engage in delivery practices and ensure that their delivery claims are transparent.
- Automate where feasible to expedite your day-to-day administration, make inventory tracking more manageable, and help guide future purchasing decisions.
- Shipment tracking can reassure clients that the order is being processed, even if it is delayed. Look for applications that track orders in real-time and integrate with a variety of international carriers.
- Provide experiential retail for customer-centric interactions. You may make shopping memorable through interactive product demos, pop-up showrooms, workshops or lectures, etc.
An effective eCommerce fulfillment partner acts as an extension of your business. However, it is critical to choose one who understands your business, its vision, and its consumers.
2) Effectively managing the supply chain
Supply chains remain global, complex, and dynamic. With global supply chain interruptions, labor shortages, and escalating economic pressures, managing the dynamic environment necessitates that firms retain visibility across the entire supply chain.
Through the application of AI/ML models, improved visibility throughout the supply chain allows access to analytical solutions that can give both speedier and more valuable predictive insights. Connecting many different data sources through a single platform enables manufacturers to secure intelligence across the supply chain and business partners. These insights can optimize cost management, inventory management, demand forecasting, capacity planning, and service and maintenance decisions.
You can also effectively manage the supply chain by sourcing new products via dropshipping and adding them to your business inventory. With reliable vendors, sourcing products requires no need to tie up some cash in inventory, any additional storage, or people to get the orders out.
3) Boosting customer experience (CX) for the holiday season
Nurturing a positive customer experience can make or break a customer’s decision to shop with you. In fact, for a warmer, more pleasant customer experience, 42% of consumers are willing to spend more. What’s more, it can boost company revenues by 10-15%.
As a rewarding exercise, taking proactive actions and strengthening your CX strategy are vital. One such step is personalization. It helps exceed customer expectations and create holiday magic.
Personalizing the customer experience
Since 91% of consumers are likely to buy from brands that identify, recall, and make relevant offers or recommendations, eCommerce customization is said to enhance conversion rates and retention. As a result, on-site customization can serve as a significant differentiator between a business and its competitors.
For example, Amazon is an eCommerce business that gets recommendations right. Its product recommendation engine is the gold standard within the e-commerce industry. Amazon bases its suggestions on a customer’s previous interactions with the site, such as order and browsing history. Customers who get highly tailored recommendations are more inclined to refer Amazon to their friends and family.
Campaign Monitor offers tailored email marketing courtesy of Adidas. Rather than delivering a generic email to all consumers, Adidas divides its lists based on gender. So they can send out an email to their male consumers promoting hip, new men's, and women's shoes.
This is a basic but significant example of personalization to increase email engagement, conversion rates, and client retention.
Go Higher: Enter hyper-personalization
In a competitive eCommerce landscape industry with an increasingly diversified consumer base, meeting customer wants and maintaining their confidence becomes increasingly tricky. This is the reason hyper-personalization is so essential nowadays.
With the relevant AI, natural language processing, and machine learning technologies, you can offer an enhanced customer experience while meeting critical business objectives.
Topshop creates a personalized wardrobe for you after you respond to questions regarding your aesthetics, lifestyle, interests, size, and budget. They constantly add new items to the wardrobe based on your product preferences and keep customers updated with mailings. The site also suggests specific outfits for users based on the products they are currently examining.
Optimizing eCommerce business Store checkout page
The current cart abandonment rate is 69.99%. This average comes from 48 independent research studies on cart abandonment.
Optimizing the checkout page will make the purchase process simple. Moreover, it will motivate customers to complete a sale and reduce cart abandonment.
Make sure to have only one checkout page and allow guests to checkout. Also, it will be better to set up various payment and shipping options. By doing so, business stores can curate a seamless checkout experience.
An optimal checkout page offers:
- Reduce checkout to a single page
- Allow guests to check out
- Provide a variety of payment choices
- Enable the multi-recipient feature
- Allow customers to select their preferred shipping method
- Provide shipping insurance to customers for peace of mind
4) Maximizing your profits with promotional ideas
According to a Deloitte Christmas retail poll, 73% of customers will spend significantly more this holiday season. As such, you must carry out promotional campaigns to help you cut through the competition.
Consider the following to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Create mystery campaigns. In these initiatives, customers can win a free product or even a $5 gift card with a purchase of $25 or more
- Send special deals, sneak peeks, and early bird discounts to loyal/VIP consumers
- Offer a new product for a reduced price
- Create a virtual wheel on the website. Customers will spin to find their bargain when they arrive at your homepage
- Every hour, hold a different sale
- Offer a buy one, get one 50% off deal
Take advantage of the 2022 holiday season
An optimal eCommerce strategy will lead to a more successful holiday season - outperforming the competition is the essential differentiator here. Taking into account and preparing yourself for possible shipping delays and the current supply chain situation, you’ll greatly increase your chances for a successful holiday season. Of course, some things cannot be predicted so try to win over hearts with a personalized approach. Don't hesitate to switch up your strategy as the trends, creative team, and outcomes evolve during the holiday season.
Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of eCommerce. He has years of experience in eCommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.