The holiday season officially begins on Black Friday. People are enthusiastic to avail the hottest sales of the year, and retailers leave no stone unturned in marketing their holiday campaigns. Luckily though, you have an edge if you happen to be an e-commerce retailer because people now prefer online shopping.
Let’s dive into the data: Holiday sales increased by 3.8 per cent in 2016, outpacing 2015. In the United States, the highest amount of sales were made on Cyber Monday. In fact, Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day in 2016, with $2.67 billion spent on online shopping. Statistics show that during the peak US holiday seasons, e-commerce sales in 2016 amounted to the US $80.22 billion. Popular categories included health, fitness and electronics.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that physical stores are struggling to make more sales with today’s customers that wish to do the bulk of their shopping online. Store traffic has been declining over the years as people look for better packages on e-commerce websites. For this reason, it’s a good time to switch to e-commerce or boost your e-commerce performance for the forthcoming holiday season, the most important selling quarter of the year.
Here are some trends you should not miss when crafting a campaign for your e-commerce website this year:
Artificial Intelligence refers to programs and machines that can solve problems and are capable of making decisions based on learning. These programs are formed on massive data sets that make it easier to learn and act based upon valid knowledge. If you can incorporate AI in your e-commerce processes, you will witness better operations and a more positive customer experience.
Some of the popular examples from e-commerce giants are:
- Voice recognition using AI by many smartphone companies
- Google Home and Amazon Echo
- Macy’s On-Call, a tool which helps customers find relevant products
Clearly, you can also make use of this powerful technology to provide comfort to your customers and introduce an AI-based product that is better than your competitors’.
Cyber security is an important piece of the puzzle if you want to make sure your shoppers feel safe while buying from your website. IBM’s Chairman,
President and CEO, Ginni Rometty said, “Cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world.” The cyber security community and major media have largely concurred on the prediction that cyber crime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021.
If your company’s systems are safe from cyber theft and such incidents, people are going to feel more secure while providing their details.
When talking about the trends of this year’s holiday shopping, we should not miss the topic of Augmented Reality (AR). You are already using it if you use Snapchat or play Pokemon Go. AR is a live view of the world with digital elements in it. That’s how you can see a Pokemon sitting at the foot of your bed through a mobile screen. For e-commerce retailers, this technology can be used as an opportunity for grabbing more sales.
AR can be used to allow customers to virtually try products before buying them, dispelling any doubts they might have before a purchase. Additionally, AR can give your website or app that “wow” factor, the same feeling that makes using Snapchat filers so exciting. Visual merchandising can also be revolutionized with AR and can be incorporated in your campaign for the upcoming season.
Mobile technology has provided us with ease and comfort to browse as many e-commerce websites as we want. Your potential customer is going to complete all transactions on mobile this season. Consumers would prefer to shop from the comforts of their home, rather than heading to a brick-and-mortar store.
Since this habit of consumers is not going to change anytime soon, you need to develop a checklist before the season begins:
- Is your e-commerce website optimized for mobile?
- If the website is mobile, is it functioning normally on every screen size?
- If you have an app, is it working smoothly?
- Is your website ready to accommodate a high number of visitors?
The element of personalization is getting more important than ever as we proceed into this holiday season. In 2017, you must be prepared to offer personalized items to shoppers who want to buy items for themselves or for gifting purposes.
42% of consumers are interested in technology to customize products and 19% are willing to pay a 10% price premium to customize or personalize products they purchase.
Be it an iPhone case, a bag or a laptop, you should keep in mind that people are ready to pay you more for the personalized aspect.
Thus, e-commerce retailers should dive into personalization by offering name tagging and other personalized features for their customers. When you let the shoppers personalize the product before checking out, it instills in them a sense of ownership and a loyalty with the product.
Moreover, if your competitor is selling the same thing without personalization, you have an added advantage over them.
Higher Ad Spend
The final quarter of the year is very busy for advertisers, for obvious reasons. It’s no surprise that 2017 will be bigger in terms of ad spend compared to the previous years. E-commerce advertisers will notice higher ad spending and must follow through. However, this trend does not have to end with the holiday season.
Marketers can keep holiday shoppers engaged by sending updates and offers after the season has ended. As a matter of fact, you can turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers with your retargeting ads using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Retargeting involves choosing products that match a shopper’s demographic and attracting them before the next holiday season begins.
Video content is immensely popular in today’s internet population. After all, a video is easier to watch and delivers the message faster. Same is the case for video ads. They are more popular than traditional ads.
18.9% of mobile ad spend in North and South America was allocated to video ad formats, representing a 20% quarter-over-quarter increase.
If you are very creative, you can even make your video viral. Video gives you an added opportunity to display the appearance and style of the product.
Leave nothing to the customer’s imagination this holiday season, because videos are going to be very popular.
Amazon’s hard work
The popularity of Amazon during the holiday season should not be taken for granted. Amazon is many people’s favorite retailer during holidays, which means the loyal customers will always stick to the e-commerce giant for gift shopping and Thanksgiving deals.
To provide a great experience to these loyal customers, Amazon works harder than anyone. That’s why, it always captures a greater percentage of total sales in e-commerce every year.
Holiday data from last year shows that 46 per cent of last week’s online shopping was done on Amazon.
The retailer has dominated the entire holiday season and its share increased by three per cent. Best Buy returned to the second-place spot and was followed by Walmart and Apple.
You have to promote your e-commerce website in the midst of these giants, therefore, you also need to work harder than usual. For customers who don’t want to get the same thing everyone is getting from Amazon, your pages must be like a breath of fresh air, full of exciting new options.
The holiday season is quite near, which means you should start planning now! The sooner you plan, the earlier you will know if there’s a missing element in your campaign. E-commerce sales are larger than brick-and-mortar sales now, and you need to build an originally exciting campaign to grab most customers.
Here are some things an e-commerce page must do in advance before the most important selling season of the year begins:
Customize your pages
Holiday seasons surely require a fancy makeover for your website pages. They play a pivotal role in building the festive mood of your shoppers when they visit your website.
Feel free to add all sorts of decorations to make visitors feel warmly welcomed to the site. Product page decoration is a must, in any case, so don’t avoid it.
Spread the word
Promote that amazing sale on your website as much as you can! People need options when they are shopping for gifts. These things can’t be done at the eleventh hour; it’s essential that you promote your sales a month or two before the holiday season starts.
Use both traditional media for advertising and social media for daily updates. Put everything in there – your special products, sales, delivery times and deadlines. Inform your shoppers about everything.
Boost your SEO
The holiday season especially requires work in the SEO department. Figure out your most important keywords before the season and start boosting them. Optimize all the pages on your website with popular keywords that are related to the holiday season.
The holiday season calls for holiday discounts! People love discounts and special packages. You should plan these packages to suit every shopper’s needs. Every other person needs to shop for more than one friend or relative. Make it easy for them to shop with “buy one, get one free” deals or “3-for-the-price-of-1” price packages.
Optimize for mobile
Mobile customers should be on your mind too. Most millennials have been born around mobile technology, so you should optimize your website to accommodate their user experiences. Mobile optimization is not an option anymore. For e-commerce websites, it is a must.
Offer fast delivery, gift wrapping, and exchange options
The holiday season is not that dreamy for every shopper. Many people want to get done with their gift shopping and delivery as early as possible. Hence, it would be a great idea to announce a gift-wrapping service which can take some stress off your shoppers’ mind. A complimentary gift-wrapping service will be a hit in these times anyway.
You must also speed up the delivery process so people get their gifts exactly when they expect them. Amidst all this, don’t forget to display exchange and return options clearly on your website
Welcome last-minute shoppers
Many stores, in their desire to attract as many shoppers as possible, will focus on sales and discounts, meanwhile missing out on those who shop last minute. The holiday season already requires more workforce and longer work hours, so it’s a good time to cash in on this great opportunity by accommodating these last minute customers. Promote your gifts which can be shopped for in the last minute, preferably few days before the holidays. Those who haven’t shopped yet will welcome this opportunity with open arms.