It’s that time of year again – retailers are gearing up for the holiday shopping rush as Black Friday gives way to Cyber Monday which gives way to Cyber Week. With new shopping patterns emerging from the pandemic likely to remain, marketing, customer experience, and customer service execs are once again trying to strategize the best ways to increase retail sales this holiday shopping season.
We’ve combed the landscape for shopping trends related to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week 2022 to bring you the latest thinking. One thing’s for sure – personalized, omnichannel experiences are here to stay, no matter what season ‘tis.
Here are 6 trends for retailers to consider before, during, and after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week to eke out the best of a holiday boom and avoid the holiday blues.
Phygital will put the “black” in Black Friday
Eric Hazan from McKinsey states: “We are entering the world of ‘phygital’— physical and digital at the same time, where there is not a physical world or digital world in retail, but rather a completely connected one.”
One example of connected experiences that merged the physical and digital store experiences for customers that emerged during the pandemic was that of “Buy Online, Pick Up In-store”, or “BOPIS”. With options like curbside pickup, consumers found it more convenient to browse and shop online, but still have the option to visit the store to obtain their purchase. Similarly, the option to “Buy Online and Return In-Store”, or “BORIS” found favor with consumers looking to avoid the hassle of a trip to the post office or scheduling a pick up when they had to return an item. Convenience and efficiency defined the customer experience during the pandemic.
Connected experiences in retail means customers can stay connected to their favorite brands from anywhere on the right channel, at the right time, and with the right message. Going “phygital” for Black Friday, and beyond, means blurring the lines between digital and physical store experiences, as customers are making the return to brick-and-mortar while still favoring the benefits they’ve grown accustomed to with digital shopping.
Customers demand personalized experiences
Infobip research found that 54%of consumers say receiving impersonal messages annoys them and 47% ignore impersonalized messages altogether.
As a result, retailers are investing in delivering personalized recommendations for products based on a user’s shopping or browsing history. To craft a personalized message, retailers need a clear picture of their audience so they can segment, create, and send tailored messages to customers based on the timing, channel, and content that’s relevant to them.
Particularly during the Black Friday to Cyber Monday rush, consumers are short on time and more likely to interact with brands that understand their preferences and needs. Plus, if you can nail the communication at this crucial time in the customer journey, they’re more likely to turn into repeat, loyal customers that will engage with your brand year-round.
From one channel to multichannel to omnichannel
The days of just shopping in a store, or just shopping online, are well behind us. And consumer communications about shopping are expected to reflect this reality.
Infobip predicts a variety of messaging channels will be used to reach consumers this peak shopping season:
- SMS is expected to see an 88% increase for Black Friday and 45% for Cyber Monday compared to the average estimated amount for all of November.
- Interactions through WhatsApp are expected to increase by 19% on Black Friday compared to an average day in November and 41% on Cyber Monday compared to the average for all of November.
- Email interactions are expected to increase by 84% on Black Friday compared to the average day in November and 21% on Cyber Monday compared to the estimated average for all of November.
Further, PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%, and that “shoppers avoid retailers who are ill-equipped to deliver a seamless brand experience online, in-store and across multichannel media, both consistently and continuously.”
You put a lot of time into crafting a Black Friday campaign. And each year, the pressure to achieve results intensifies. If you’re not reaching and engaging customers with an omnichannel solution that includes voice, email, SMS, and the most popular chat apps, you’re likely missing an opportunity to make gains during the holiday shopping season.
Consumers prefer digital customer support
Gartner finds that “70% of customers are using self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey” and that “resolution in self-service is a win-win for customers and for companies.” Further, they report that “as much as 40% of today’s live (call) volume could be resolved in self-service channels.”
So if you’re not providing a means for customers to get their questions answered through digital means, this is another missed opportunity to keep customers informed and engaged as they shop during the busiest time of the year.
Best-in-class, modern chatbot building platforms allow you to keep the human touch as the chatbot handles high-volume queries, decreasing your agents’ burden and enabling seamless transfer to a human when necessary. And, as part of an omnichannel experience, the best platforms will support your customers by using a chatbot over any of their favorite communication channels – including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Messages for Business, Viber, Instagram Messages, Twitter Direct Messages, Telegram, LINE, Live Chat, SMS, RCS, and Google’s Business Messages.
Early shopping through mobile messaging
If it seems that the holiday shopping season is getting longer and longer, it’s not just because holiday ads are starting well before Halloween. It’s because retailers have been taking advantage of digital innovation to start sending their customers’ offers via their mobile devices well in advance of Black Friday to capitalize on this peak selling opportunity.
Mobile messaging is particularly useful for targeting consumers who know what they’re looking for, are on the hunt for a bargain in advance of Black Friday, or are simply raving fans of your brand.
Mobile messaging options include:
- SMS – SMS is the ideal channel for keeping customers informed of the latest deals on the products they’re interested in and stock availability before they purchase – and then the status of orders and expected delivery time once they make a purchase. Send personalized offers by SMS based on the products or services that customers have recently viewed on your website.
- MMS – MMS allows for eye-catching images and videos that can help engage consumers, who are already on their smartphones all day, to start or complete their purchasing journey – and also lead them back to their cart if they’ve abandoned.
- Mobile App Messaging ensures timely communication with geo-targeting as well as
in-app messages and push notifications for those all-important flash sales and impulse
- RCS (Rich Communication Services) lets you add images, videos, and GIFs to your messages to make them more enticing – leading to increased click-through rates and essentially more sales.
Plus, with mobile messaging, you can continue to target customers even after the peak selling season to make sure they got everything they needed, and engage them with new offers based on their activity.
It should go without saying by now that consumers deserve a great customer experience. But what exactly that means is still a subject of debate, as the term “CX” can apply to anything from communications leading up to a sale or special event, to the in-store experience, to the returns process. This is why it’s so important to provide an end-to-end customer experience that meets them where they are at every step in their journey and through every touchpoint.
- More than 54% of respondents in the UK and 41% in France said they will purchase more from brands they’ve had a positive experience with.
- 32% (UK) and more than 28% (France) said they would no longer purchase from brands they had a negative experience with during lockdown.
Source: What Customers Want – A Retailers Guide to Digital Customer Experience
To provide a stellar end-to-end customer experience:
- Consider all consumer touchpoints pre, during, and post the shopping experience.
- Provide seamless, convenient, and connected communications throughout every step of the journey.
- Use behavior-triggered messaging to gain the right customer’s attention at the right time.
- Personalize messages and offers based on individual customer preferences and buying patterns.
- Maintain conversational experiences through a combination of automated (chatbot) and human interaction.
- Ask for feedback – and listen. Use surveys, social media, online reviews, and other forms of feedback to find out what your customers are thinking, and saying, about your brand. Then take steps to address any common pain points.
With retail trends changing in light of world events, economic realities, and consumer preferences, it may seem daunting to develop a strategy for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week each year. While it may be a challenge to try to predict the impact of the first two, consumers have made their preferences known. They want omnichannel communication, personalized messaging, and digital service options powered through chatbots. Infobip is the only omnichannel communications solution you need to deliver all this and more to ensure a great customer experience – not just during the peak shopping season but throughout their entire journey with your brand.
Looking to boost your Black Friday customer engagement?