Commerce

Survive and Thrive During the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season: 3 Digital Commerce Trends to Act On Now

Woman Shopping Online Preparing To Christmas

It’s hard to believe that the 2020 holiday shopping season is almost upon us, and it’s likely to be unlike any other holiday season we’ve seen to date. It goes without saying that this year will be different in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and you already know the impact the pandemic has had on consumers and how they purchase, with many turning to online channels for items that they typically may have purchased in-store.

That being said, many businesses are still struggling to adapt to this “new normal.” Here are three commerce trends you can apply to your business, with little or no effort, to not only help you survive this holiday season but thrive with your customers.

Transparency, Transparency, Transparency

I’d argue that offering transparency to your customer, especially online, is not a COVID-driven feature to have on your commerce site. But the truth is that because of COVID-19, transparency has never been so important to customers.

Here are some ways to offer transparency with very little heavy lifting:

Site Banners and Cart Messages

Offering real-time inventory can be a difficult process and may not be possible with the little time left before the holiday rush hits. However, you can leverage key messaging opportunities throughout your site to establish customer expectations around inventory levels and shipping times. For example, when customers are in their cart or on the order confirmation page, displaying messaging that sets that expectation. Consider offering a proactive message that reads something along the lines of “Due to the holiday season and increased demand, shipping may be delayed. Please give us up to 14 days to process your order. If you have further questions, please contact customer support.” A message like this puts the control in the customers’ hands. So while you may not be able to offer real-time inventory data yet, you’re letting customers know that you are thinking about their purchasing experience and providing options if they want to inquire about an order.

Omnichannel Outreach

In addition to on-site messaging, consider looking at leveraging off-site omnichannel outreaching to customers. Leveraging avenues such as email, SMS texting, automated phone calls, social, etc., will prove valuable for providing customers with transparency around any delays or updates to their orders. As an example, CSR teams can leverage SMS and email communications for order or product updates. By being proactive, it puts more control in the hands of the customer. You may experience some order cancellations due to the delays, but the trust you’ll gain with that customer will keep them coming back in the future.

Supercharge Your Site Speed

One area that is often overlooked is how your site speed is impacted when handling all of the traffic and interactions that will be occurring during the holiday season. Site speed can have such a massive impact on conversion rates. In fact, a survey found that a one-second delay in a site’s load time can have a decrease in conversion rates by 20%. That’s a pretty telling statistic, especially because one second isn’t really that long.

Here are some ways to identify issues and get started:

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The Digital Essentials, Part 3

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Google Analytics Analysis

Google Analytics provides fantastic data and details around specific page load times for the various areas of your site, as well as bounce and exit rates. Start by diving into your key ordering pages and comparing the load times with exit and bounce rates. If you’re seeing high bounce and exit rates and your page load time is high, there is likely a correlation.

Hosting Environment Changes

If you notice some issues within Google Analytics today, you can bet these issues worsen as your site traffic starts to pick up with holiday shoppers. The best solution here would be to reach out to your managed hosting team and ask for input on how to decrease page load times. There are quite a few methods to achieve this that this could be achieved, and the hosting group you’re leveraging should have ideas on how best to achieve the desired results you’re looking for.

Leverage Native Site Features for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Specifically around up and cross-selling of products. In fact, a Forrester study has said the up-selling and cross-selling of products account for 10-30% of a website’s revenue. These features will help you maximize your opportunity to sell more products and keep customers coming back.

Here are some of those features to leverage:

Abandoned Cart Email Notification

We all know that the holidays are a hectic time, and that translates digitally as well. Users will have multiple windows open browsing various types of products, and at times a customer will become distracted and might end a purchasing session and forget to place their order. Leveraging abandoned cart email reminders provides a fantastic way to send an authenticated customer an email, reminding them that they forgot to submit their order. Many platforms have this feature available meaning it’s likely that the platform you are leveraging has this, or possibly an extension option as an alternative.

The Up / Cross-Sell

Would you like fries with that? Would you like to supersize that? The classic questions that McDonald’s has implemented to grow a customer’s food order translate to your business too. Using advanced logic to display items that might be associated with items a customer is browsing might require a platform extension to leverage.  That being said, most platforms give you the ability to leverage “recently viewed items” as a native feature. By turning this on, you can remind customers of products that they recently viewed and give them the opportunity to add products and increase their order size.

User Email Capture

One of the best ways to keep your customer acquisition costs low and maximize the visitors on your site is to capture emails. This can be done in a few ways, but one of the popular is through a modal pop-up within the site experience when a user first lands. Many companies will use this as an opportunity to offer the user a promotion or discount for signing up for their newsletter or making an account. This seemingly simple idea helps build your email contact list which is vital for re-targeting efforts. Building this feature will likely be a custom implementation, but it’s on that is simple enough to do in a relatively short amount of time. With the traffic increase your site is likely to receive during this holiday season, this feature is a must.

The Bottom Line

All these elements are important year-round, but especially during the holiday season. As crazy as it sounds, the pandemic means that many customers that will visit your site during this season may have never ordered online before or may have never ordered the types of products you sell. COVID-19 has upended the purchasing experience, and people who traditionally might have rushed to a local Walmart or Target to get the newest toy are now purchasing online.

With this, new customer behaviors are being formed– behaviors that are likely to continue even after the pandemic is under control. So in a sense, this holiday season is an audition for your business with new customers who, if your experience exceeds their expectations, will be back again to purchase.

As Will Rodgers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Use this holiday season as an opportunity to create digital experiences that make a fantastic first impression with new customers and keep them coming back again in the future.

About the Author

Justin Racine is a Senior Commerce Consultant with Perficient focusing on eCommerce innovation across multiple platforms and industries. Justin has 10+ years in the eCommerce space, with immense experience in the healthcare and medical space.

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