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Getting Your E-Commerce Strategy Right This Holiday Season

How retailers can maximize sales this festive season

7Nov

As the holiday season gets underway, the opportunities presented to companies with e-commerce as part of their business models are huge. According to Fortune, digital sales are set to reach some $95 billion by the time Christmas passes, and retailers will be desperate to snatch as much of that sizeable pie as possible. The festive season can make or break some digital retailers’ yearly revenue, so it’s important they get it right. Here are the three top tips to getting the most out of what can be a seriously profitable couple of months.

Engage on a number of channels

Engaging with your customers across a range of channels is important all year round, but its benefits will be more acutely felt during the Christmas rush. It’s commonly accepted that it’s no longer enough to focus on a single sales channel, but a report from Fluent found that the extent to which omni-channel engagement can benefit companies is staggering. The report ‘found that 47% of shoppers who engage with retailers across 10 or more channels make purchases from their favorite retailer’s website at least once a week, compared to just 21% for those who engage across one to four channels.’

The rise of mobile versus desktop means that a presence on different social media apps has never been more important. 83% of consumers indicated that smart devices are ‘central to their shopping experience,’ according to a survey by Euclid Analytics. The same report found that 37% of consumers rely on Facebook to find new products - ‘second only to word-of-mouth, at 47%.’ It’s not necessarily productive to be present across all channels, but a diverse and varied approach to where you reach your customers can make the difference in a time of high sales volume.

Make sure you’re collecting and analyzing as much data as possible

The beauty of e-commerce is that it gives retailers access to an unprecedented amount of data around their customers’ shopping habits and preferences. The Amazon suggestions algorithm is arguably one of the most successful ever created, but less revolutionary uses of data can also drive sales.

Collecting data around your customer’s buying habits can be used both on an individual level - what to suggest that customer also purchase - and on a wider scale - assessing which products performed best and why that is. The benefits will likely be felt most in the 17/18 holiday season, when your company can leverage the insight to make fewer assumptions and promote your products with confidence in your customer-centricity.

Connect digital with physical

For all the growth in e-commerce and digital marketing, 67% of consumers shop in store because they like to see, hold, or try on the product before making the purchase. It’s something that will likely never change, but it doesn’t mean insight cannot be drawn, and online sales can benefit from being savvier in store.

Essentially, better understanding customers in-store comes down to incorporating as many technologies as possible to collect data on those customers. By recreating the online shopping experience in-store, retailers can track who visits the stores, where they go and for how long, as well as their purchasing habits. Reward programs are perhaps the most effective way of collecting data from willing customers, but in-store sensors tracking customer movement can take the practice to the next level. Once this data is collected, it can be analyzed and applied to digital marketing strategies and have a significant impact to the company’s online efforts.

Content marketing is key

Again, not necessarily limited to the holiday season but exemplified by it, content marketing can be an incredibly effective way of building brand awareness and thus driving conversions. Whether it be text, video, or image-based, your brand should be creating shareable festive content for social channels and email blasts.

Perhaps the most high profile example comes from UK retailer John Lewis. The company’s ‘Man on the Moon’ advert of Christmas 2015 was a viral hit - racking up 22 million views in its first week - raising its weekly sales total to over £100 million in the week after it was released of the first time that year. The festive season is one in which content marketing can shine - your brand should be creating. 

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