Holiday season is in full swing and though some shopping lists may be partially tackled, it doesn’t mean retailers should comfortably ease off of their marketing efforts. Rather, the period leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day is an ideal time to build brand consistency, make information easily accessible to shoppers and improve customer service. Despite it being too late in the holiday season to put major mobile technology changes into play, brands have not missed the chance to positively impact their bottom line with the following tactics.
1. Allow your singular personality to shine.
There is room to be the holiday hero for frustrated shoppers simply by streamlining your brand’s self-presentation.
A recent global study by SDL found that 90 percent of shoppers expect the customer experience to be the same across all channels and devices used to connect with brands this holiday shopping season. No matter how consumers are accessing your brand, they want to see the same message, same tone and same deals.
Therefore, if you aren’t delivering the same information across all touch points, you are not creating a positive customer experience. Yes, each marketing channel serves a different purpose, but one overarching brand tone across all will yield higher engagement.
SDL further reports that 47 percent of holiday shoppers have been frustrated that in-store impressions are different from online impressions, and 40 percent have reported a disconnect between the information available online versus in stores. The top cited reason a customer will give one brand his or her loyalty over another? Dependability. Dependability leads to trust. And trust, as we all know, is the foundation of any healthy relationship.
2. Keep it simple.
For the first time ever, smartphones and tablets accounted for the majority of all online traffic on Thanksgiving Day, according to data analysis by IBM. On Black Friday, one in four online purchases were made on a mobile device.
Make pertinent information front and center for your shoppers. The more navigation required to find what they need, the less likely they will be to purchase from your digital or physical store front. “The number of times you ask someone to do something—download an app, open this, click here—you start losing people,” explains Tracy Quitsol, director of Ignition Factory at OMD New York.
Also remember that smaller screen sizes and touch displays make online shopping very different compared to desktops and laptops. If a customer has trouble perusing the website or checking out, consider them gone.
Test your brand’s browsing experience on all devices to see what quick, simple tweaks could be made to better serve consumers. A small change could make a lasting impact far beyond the holiday season.
3. Meet customers where they are—and do it with a smile.
More than 20 percent of online sales and 40 percent of online traffic is expected to be attributable to mobile devices once the 2014 holiday season wraps, according to IBM’s annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report. “To capitalize on this trend, heading into the holidays, retailers will need to rely on personalization and cross-sell recommendations to further strengthen customer relationships and wallets,” the report says.
At this point in the holiday game, it’s been widely cited and repeated that customers will research for hours on end—15 hours or more, in fact—before making a purchase. But it’s also been determined that this practice of “webrooming” will not be the death of the retail industry. (A quick reminder: Research suggests that a mobile-first approach could bring sales back into the brick and mortar.)
Thus it serves retailers well to embrace consumers’ practice of comparison by meeting those shoppers where they are—not only with a consistent message, but with stand-out customer service.
Two-thirds of U.S. smartphone owners state that they are most likely to shop at a store that offers an app with a searchable product catalog, featured sales and a store locator. Moreover, whether your band has it or not, 62 percent expect to chat with brands live on mobile.
Listen intently to what your customers are asking for over the next few weeks, and work hard to put it into play next year. This type of symbiotic relationship will keep them coming back to your brand, regardless of the season.