By Katherine Shilova.
Originally published on ProductCoalition.com
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. Especially for retailers. It is quickly approaching, and savvy shoppers will be looking for incredible deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and every other day through the end of the year.
In 2018, consumers in the United States spent a record $850 billion dollars between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to a report from McKinsey & Company. Much of this growth was attributed to an increase in online shopping, a trend that is set to continue.
This year, retailers have to plan for a shorter holiday shopping period, as Thanksgiving falls almost a week later on the calendar. Losing an entire week of potential profits has retailers scrambling to come up ways to attract more customers and have those customers spend more money in a shorter period of time.
Here are a few tips to help make sure you’re ready to wow during this year’s holiday shopping season.
1. Start preparing NOW!
Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your holiday season sales and promotions. Even though Thanksgiving seems like a long way off, many consumers start their holiday shopping in October. More and more brick and mortar store locations are putting out their holiday merchandise at the same time as their Halloween items. This encourages people to start thinking about Christmas shopping earlier.
Now is a good time to plan out all of your sales, draft your emails, newsletters, online advertising, mailers and any other types of holiday promotions. Perhaps you need to hire additional customer service reps or implement automated chatbot technology on your website.
If you’re not prepared to provide customers with an excellent and seamless shopping experience during the holiday season, there will be plenty of competitors prepped and waiting to steal them away.
2. Make sure your mobile app can handle the increased traffic load.
How’s your mobile app experience? On average, consumers spend 15+ hours researching on mobile sites and apps during the holiday season. You have to make sure that your application can handle the increased traffic with no downtime. Plus, you want to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to buy via your app. Increased security features, chat technology, a variety of ways to pay including 1-click purchase options, and the ability to track shipments via text are all important to consumers, especially during the holidays.
If you also have physical store locations in addition to an eCommerce site, you should consider offering GPS-enabled SMS text messaging features in order to send shoppers coupons and special offers when they get close to one of your stores.
Check your features, check your processing speed, and check your supply chain. Take pre-emptive measures to prevent any types of bottlenecks or problems and be prepared to give your mobile customers fast and efficient customer service.
3. Create customized and personalized offers.
If you want to stand out from your competitors, consider using AI-enhanced solutions to create custom and personalized offers to your target audience based on their particular likes and needs. Augmented and virtual reality apps such as virtual dressing rooms, virtual stylists, and more can give your brand the “cool factor” that many mobile users — especially millennials — are looking for.
If you don’t already have one, set up a customer loyalty program that can be managed online or via your mobile app. Offer electronic gift cards or a free gift when they spend a certain amount. Let them store their holiday shopping list on your app and suggest certain types of gifts to help them out. Send them reminders about special sales or have a holiday shopping days countdown widget.
The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for consumers. Your goal is to provide them with value and make their shopping easier. Create personalized offers that will save them time, money, and stress, and chances are they’ll be shopping with you long after the holiday season has ended.
4. Use this season’s data to prepare for next year’s success.
It’s important to collect customer information throughout the buying process in order to gain valuable insights that can help you plan for a successful 2020. If you don’t already have a built-in analytics tool in your solution, consider getting one…whether it’s a SaaS solution or a customized application. You need to make sure that you are capturing important data that can help you better understand your customer and their needs.
The more “big data” you can collect that is relevant to your target audience, the better prepared you are to manage the future supply chain, inventory, competitors, and other aspects of your business. The more you know the more you grow.
Winter is coming. The holidays are upon us.
As a retailer, this is your time to shine. Start prepping now to give your customers the best gift of the season…a seamless and stress-free holiday shopping experience with great deals and speedy service that frees them up to enjoy the true spirit of the season.