The holiday season is the biggest shopping season of the year. It is that time that the overdrive happens. From shopping for Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, about 30% of annual sales are generated during this season.
The National Retail Federation predicts a 4% increase in holiday sales over 2018. This prediction is looking at sales from November 1 to December 31. It projects that spending during the holiday seasons would be for a total of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion.
The NRF further foresees online and other nonstore sales, in particular, to increase 11%-14%, to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion.
These figures are not mere conjectures, these are based on facts. Holiday sales in 2018 totaled $701.2 billion. This was a 2.1% increase over 2017 holiday sales.
What's going to be your share of the projected multibillion-dollar holiday season sales of 2019?
Are you prepared for the overdrive?
Here are important factors you should consider.
Shoppers are looking for omnipresence
You would be missing out on a lot of sales if your presence is tilted towards one side. Shoppers want both online and physical experience. Many shoppers prefer to order online and get their products at the store.
Target reported a 29% increase in sales during the holiday season of 2018. This was attributed to delivery options like buy online and pick up in-store. It was reported that the number of online orders fulfilled through either in-store pickup or a curbside pickup services was up 60 percent from 2017 figures and accounted for roughly 25 percent of online sales during November and December.
This clearly shows that shoppers like the convenience of making their decisions, ordering online, and saving some money by picking their purchase themselves.
It should be noted that while a lot of product research happens online, most purchases happen in stores. A lot of customers enjoy walking between the shelves to see products they can add to their cart.
As a retailer, you should optimize both channels. Reduce the time spent at checkout by employing more persons to be at checkout.
Incorporate digital experiences in your store. Allow your shoppers to browse products from a digital panel, checkout themselves, and get their receipts on their mobile phones. These would make shopping way easier for them.
Recent statistics provided by McKinsey & Company revealed that crowds and queues in stores account for 39% of the primary concerns of shoppers during the holiday season in the United States. The same percentage was recorded for shoppers in Canada while 42% was recorded for shoppers in the United Kingdom.
Ensure that your website or mobile app is indeed mobile-friendly. Millennials and Gen zers are showing very high interest in doing a lot of shopping this holiday season. A larger percentage would do their shopping via mobile phones. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that 88% of shoppers age 18-24 and 87% of shoppers age 25-34 used a mobile device to make holiday purchasing decisions over Thanksgiving weekend 2018, compared to 66% of all shoppers.
Ensure that the pages synchronize easily with mobile. Try doing the shopping yourself. Also, ensure that your pages are not slowing down or shutting abruptly. Fix all bug issues. You should also double-check with your web hosting provider to be sure your website can withstand the expected increase.
Personalization is very important
Gone are the days of selling to everyone at once. Shoppers are now looking for personalized shopping experiences that would make them feel important to the retailer.
According to a Salesforce study, 51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they even make contact.
This has raised the bar for retailers.Research from Epsilon reveals that 90% of consumers find personalized experiences appealing, and 80% say they’re more likely to purchase from a brand that offers them.
As more sales are anticipated for this holiday season, it is important to put some things in place to give your shoppers a reason to return and even bring friends along.
It is important to understand that shoppers have their features and preferences. They have to be served along these lines.
When shoppers access your website or app, they leave browsing history and most times, an email address. And there is always an IP address.
You can tailor their browsing history with their email address or IP address. This is done so that when next they log in or open the app, they can be served with products similar to the last one they searched for.
This saves them the stress of searching and navigating several pages.
Complementary products should also be displayed on the page of the product searched for. If a customer just purchased a long sleeves shirt, you want to suggest cufflinks or a nice tie via a pop-up or "Things You May Like".
In physical retail, you may need to invest in digital devices. You can attach AR tags to products. These tags would be scanned and more information about the product would be available to the shopper immediately.
The reality is: unless you have sales representatives at every point who can give shoppers more information about a product, a lot of customers may leave your store frustrated as they can’t get enough information about the product they are about to spend their money on.
More, it would take an exceptional sales representative to know well enough about every product to be able to satisfactorily give shoppers information.
And there is a limit to which you can stretch human beings.
The Mall of America incorporated a virtual assistant called ELF “Experiential List Formulator.” ELF is a chatbot capable of creating personalized shopping itineraries for each customer.
The Mall of America is big; this move would help to direct shoppers to where they want easily.
This is the season of gifts. Apart from Santa, most family Christmas trees would have gifts at their feet. The problem is that many don’t know what to buy.
As much as they feel that compulsion to buy gifts for that special someone, many are lost on the choice of item. This is why many would just go to an eCommerce platform to see products on sale or just go window shopping at the mall.
Thus, they look to you for inspiration.
According to the recent statistics provided by McKinsey & Company, 46% of shoppers see as a primary concern the issue of not knowing what to buy.
If you have a blog, you can always put up ideas around what you sell. You aim to give your shoppers needed inspiration; you can weave it around the holiday.
You can always suggest gift items and give offers on them. As common as a tie is, it wouldn't come to the mind of many until they see a nice tie on an eCommerce page.
If your goal is netting a sale at almost every visit, if not every visit, then you should think for the shopper.
At your physical store…
You need to arrange items in their order. You want to have a gift section that has divisions. For instance, there is a place of gifts like toys and teddy bears for kids and there is a section that sells gift items like cards.
You need a workable strategy on how to make it easy to search and locate products.
You should also check your stock. You don’t want to disappoint shoppers and miss out on sales because you don’t have enough.
Research has revealed that a lot of shoppers don't have a budget for the holiday season. They buy as much as their money can carry. This is a concern for the retailer as it shows a lack of clear shopping intention. However, the retailer can exploit this. Since a lot of shoppers don't have budgets for their holiday spending, recommending personalized items to them can be very effective. They may come for a product and leave with a cart of 6 items at checkout.
A popular strategy employed by AliExpress is to give coupons for the next purchase. This contributed immensely to the Singles' Day sales of $38 billion.
There are some things you should have in mind about the holiday shopping season:
A lot of customers would start to research early the items they want to buy during the festive period. These sets of customers plan their budget ahead of the holiday period. They aren't just going to buy anything. Many of them are looking for where to buy the item and where it is at the cheapest price.
You should consider giving out coupons and a discount. More sales and turnover would cover the amount spent on this strategy.
More, you need to give the customers the information they need about the product.
Upload valuable content on your website that can help them navigate through the pages to what they are looking for.
It would do some more good if you can give objective product reviews or just state the capabilities of each product.
Do some research on the products and see how it provides a solution. Always remember that shoppers are looking to get their problems solved.
Make your post beautiful and relatable with images.
A lot of moms would be getting their kids, partner, and loved ones Christmas gifts. Men don’t do as much as women, but they buy themselves and their partner gifts also.
These people can be easily targeted on social media. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have made it possible to reach people according to their likes, interests, and peculiarities.
You can employ this medium to target users and advertise to them.
On Instagram, there are shoppable posts. These posts would give prices and this has made shopping easier.
Pinterest is also a nice platform to consider.
Shoppers have social media accounts; they upload stories, view stories, like pictures, and share content. You should utilize every avenue to get to them. Advertise discounts and promos, and let them know the product is a click away.
Ensure that you reply to your messages.
Websolutions reports that 65% of holiday shoppers are more likely to shop with a business they can message and make inquiries from.
You should have an interesting post and also put up deals centered on the holiday. You can have daily quotes on the essence of the season. The motive is to be human.
There is a projection that shoppers would start earlier in 2019. This is because there has been an increase in shopping from the middle of October according to Mckinsey & Company.
Thus, you should set out early. Get all digital fixes, optimize your online and physical retail experience, ensure that the proper arrangement of the store is done, and work out a strategy to convert every shopper.
This is the season you should appreciate your most loyal customers. You can send them personalized seasonal messages. You can also send them exclusive offers and early bird links to products.
Emails can also work for inactive customers. You can reach them with new and exciting deals
You can also send them deals that can benefit their friends and families.
Help them decide. You can send them the most popular items on your website. You’d never know if they have been looking for items to buy as gifts.
Optimize for SEO
You want your website to rank high in search results. You need to have your SEO optimized.
You can add keywords to your website so that it can be easily recognized. Thus, add keywords like “season sales”, “holiday sales”, “Black Friday”, “gifts”, etc.
Get your business listed so that you can maximize your local retail presence. You can get on Google My Business Listing.
Verify that the information on your listing is accurate.
You can also employ digital marketing and use affiliate marketing to drive more sales during this period.
Holiday sales this year may be bigger than what has been predicted. Thus, you have to be ready for the windfall.
From your physical to your virtual presence, everything needs to be optimized. Ensure that complementary products are not far from each other.
Personalize your customer service. Go digital. Get more hands, if needs be. Be human. And think for the shopper.