With an unimaginable number of products and sites to choose from, holiday shoppers are overwhelmed.
In fact, customer advocacy platform Needle, released results today from a national consumer survey finding that gift-giving causes 84 percent of respondents stress. It's so bad that purchasing the "right" gifts for everyone on their list stresses the majority of shoppers (79 percent) more than time with extended family (31 percent) and holiday travel (26 percent).
It's not just shoppers who are tense. Since the holidays represent a good portion of retailers' annual sales, they've prepared for the next six weeks all year - finding ways to optimize their inventory, websites, and how they acquire and retain customers more efficiently. The answer, however, might be meeting in the middle because reducing stress for shoppers is likely to increase revenue for retailers.
This strategy is a recurring theme in Monetate Senior Director of Digital Marketing Insights Brett Bair's "3 P's to a Successful Holiday Experience."
Since many websites only see customers once a year, Bair advises to use this knowledge to dictate what experience retailers give them on their websites. For example, a user searching for men's items close to the holidays may be searching for a gift for a spouse or parent. To be certain, it'd be ideal to have some information on this shopper (particularly gender or past purchases), but presenting the shopper when they come back to the site with content like "Great Gifts for Dad" or "Gifts for Him Under $50" is a safe bet and makes the experience relevant for that customer. In a hyper-competitive retail environment, personalization becomes a competitive advantage.
While holiday shopping starts at different times of the year for different people, those waiting until the last month put a lot of faith in retailers and mail services that their packages will be delivered on time. Bair believes shipping and shipping deadlines to be some of the bigger pain points of the season. Monetate provides a way for retailers to personalize these logistics based on location. Knowing where the customer is, the platform can present highly targeted information around shipping deadlines (e.g. "You have 12 hours left to take advantage of free shipping" or "You have one day left before you'll have to pay for expedited shipping to receive it by Dec. 24.")
This type of personalized shipping information reduces customer anxiety and frustrations (our Associate Editor Allison Howen recently wrote about her mom's less-than-ideal post-Christmas delivery) while providing shoppers a reason to make that purchase now. This sense of urgency can help them make a quick decision, rather than continuing their research on a competitor's site.
3. Perfect Present
Holiday shopping is when people are "buying things they are not very familiar with," according to Bair. This presents an opportunity for retailers to guide visitors to the right purchase. Remember, shoppers are more stressed about finding the perfect gift than spending time with a relative and all their opinions (tis' the season). Bair advises retailers to call out specific products, like "customer favorite," "top rated" or "best seller." By "badging" individual products, retailers are indicating to shoppers what would make for a good gift.
By following these three P's, retailers can provide a great holiday experience for all the shoppers coming to their site for the first time, for the first time in 12 months or for repeat customers. Bair says it's so important to be overly diligent during the holidays, because retailer sites see the biggest amount of traffic and biggest amount of new eyeballs, so giving shoppers a really great experience could bring them back for a different holiday in the New Year, like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day.