It’s the final countdown… Black Friday Cyber Monday, or BFCM, is officially less than 60 days away, and this holiday season (like many other things this year) is set to be unlike any other before.
While there are many unknowns, it’s important to start with what you do know. There are four general trends that brands should expect this year:
- Lower year-over-year growth rate than previous years.
- High competition with both online and in-store retailers.
- Price sensitivity amongst consumers due to inflation.
- Mobile shopping to be at all-time highs.
With these in mind, our ecommerce experts at Third and Grove have put together our top six tips and recommendations for how to make the most out of this BFCM and holiday season.
RELATED ARTICLE: Ensure your Shopify storefront is optimized and ready for high-traffic periods with Online Store 2.0.
Tip #1: Learn from the past.
So often merchants are focused on what’s new and next, but what has already happened can help predict what is going to happen. Review your past promotions, and understand your recent traffic trends. What has been super successful? Do more of that. What hasn’t been super successful? Do less of that, or adjust your strategy based on what you learned. How are you defining success? If you’re unsure, be sure you have a plan to do so this year – your future-self will thank you. Additionally, if there’s one thing we have all learned this year - it’s that ecommerce has come back down to earth and “returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth”. Looking at how you approached the holiday season before the pandemic began can also prove to be valuable this year.
Tip #2: Don’t wait.
Consumers are expected again this year to begin their holiday shopping earlier. In fact, a study by Digital Commerce 360 found that “38% of Prime Day shoppers say they purchased a holiday gift during the event.” Moving your promotions up earlier can help increase consumer visibility, spread your revenue generation more evenly, and also help stabilize inventory and fulfillment flows. Additionally, advertising costs are always and will be much higher during the peak periods meaning your dollars won’t be going quite as far as you might have hoped. Leverage paid media spend now (ahead of the peak season) to acquire leads/prospects, then engage your organic channels like SMS Marketing to their maximum during peak periods to see the best returns.
Tip #3: Embrace loyalty.
With rising customer acquisition costs and high competition expected this year, your loyal customers will be more important than ever. This will hold true even after this holiday season ends. Conduct research into this segment of customers and understand their behaviors to formulate promotional ideas - cross-sell them into new categories they may not know about, remind them they may be running out of their favorite product, or encourage them to engage with your brand in other ways like sending in user-generated content or participating in surveys/research. Implement a loyalty program (or simply segment offers) to reward loyal customers with early access to products, exclusive offers, and small perks like free shipping or priority customer service. In return, these brand advocates will naturally want to share their positive experience further with their networks and communities.
Tip #4: Create convenience.
With in-store retail making its comeback over the past year and consumers demanding 1-2 day delivery (thanks to Amazon), what is more certain than ever is that consumers value the power of now. Consumers want to have the product in-hand as soon as possible so they can either use it right away or determine if they want to keep it. If your business can support it, be sure to offer geo-targeted Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) options as available. Additionally if a product is sold out online, activate your omni-channel strategy and showcase a retail store finder to encourage in-store sales. Lastly, consider adding last-mile delivery services, like Ohi, to your storefront especially as the shipping cut-off dates approach at the end of the season.
Tip #5: Simplify offers.
Promotions have gotten more robust and complex in the past couple of years as brands online have gotten more sophisticated. Too often these days consumers are seeing promotions like “buy this to get that, and an extra discount if you do x, plus get a bonus surprise free mystery gift if your order is over $x”. This can cause consumer confusion/frustration and open the door for technological difficulties. With inflation top-of-mind, consumers will be focused on one thing this year: VALUE. We can expect consumers to be protective with where and how they spend. Don’t get too fancy with your promotion, consumers won’t have the time to understand it or how-to redeem it with all the other competition going on. Instead, stick with the tried and true holy-trinity of offers:
- Discounts or markdowns to drive conversion.
- New Products to capture attention/create FOMO.
- Bundles to raise AOV and offset high shipping costs.
Tip #6: Protect the sale.
As the volume of online orders increases, typically so does the volume of returns. A high rate of returns can take your sales revenue from impressive to mediocre as soon as January hits - the ultimate buzzkill. Increased returns can also increase operational costs leading to reduced profitability, and who can afford that right now?
Consider investing in the areas below to help reduce your returns and protect your bottom (and top) line:
- Streamlined customer service tooling like Gorgias to help answer customer questions before, during, and after the sale.
- Automated returns options like Loop that put the power in the consumer’s hands and help advocate for exchanges or store credit.
- End-to-end Gifting options like GiftNow that let the recipient choose their own gift including selecting their own size, color, etc and verifying their shipping address to reduce the likelihood of a return.
Interested to learn more about how TAG ecommerce experts can help with your Shopify storefront? Contact us today.
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