We’re on the cusp of the shopping season, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day kicking off the spending spree and leading into Christmas and Boxing Day.
In-store Black Friday stampedes have been replaced with heavy online traffic, while brick and mortar stores have been replaced with click and mortar eCommerce sites. Post-pandemic retail trends are here to stay. Let’s break down how and why retailers should rethink their marketing strategies for the upcoming holiday season to boost sales. In this blog, we will cover:
- Online sales statistics
- Marketing strategies and examples of increasing sales
- Examples of how to increase retail sales with back-in-stock alerts
Online sales statistics
To increase online sales, it’s essential to understand the trends and insights influencing retailers and their customers. Here are a few of the most interesting and useful statistics to consider before developing a marketing strategy:
eCommerce revenue growth
Statista reported that in 2020, there was a 20% spike in online sales compared to 2019, resulting in $644 billion in revenue in the USA alone. That’s a considerable jump from the 10% increase in 2018. Online sales continue to grow, and customers are not returning to pre-pandemic days of buying in stores. By 2025, the projected growth of eCommerce retail revenue is around $1.3 trillion.
Online revenue growth is continuing to grow and having a solid eCommerce marketing plan can ensure you get your piece of this very large pie.
The way people use their devices changes the way they purchase goods online. In 2021, 70% of retail web visitors used their smartphones. Mobile users spent $3.56 trillion in retail purchases worldwide in 2021.
To minimize pain points, retailers must understand how customers make purchases and what devices they prefer. They can then develop a plan to increase the probability they will buy from them again. More millennials are buying products through social media platforms, but not all retailers are jumping on this new opportunity. As retailers in a post-pandemic world, it’s important to be where your customers are and not have them look for you.
Consider how user-friendly the shopping experience is on varying devices. Google research found that 90% of multiple device owners will switch between devices daily and, on average, will use three devices to complete a task. Someone might browse your inventory on their mobile and then complete the sale later on their desktop or tablet. The key is to be available and accessible everywhere, with a consistent standard to meet your customers’ needs.
Learn more from our Enterprise Team Lead, James Stokes, as he talks about how technology plays a significant role in the advancement of retail:
Holiday season conversion rates
Cyber Monday in 2022 had the highest conversion rate in the USA out of all the major holiday shopping days. It peaked with a 7.2% conversion rate on laptops and other devices and 3.31% on mobile phones.
Customers now enjoy the perks of shopping and finding deals online compared to wrestling with store crowds. With such a high conversion rate, it’s time to optimize experiences on one of the busiest shopping days of the year to ensure your visitors convert.
The Baynard Institute reported that an average of almost 70% of shoppers abandon their carts while online shopping. But why? Here are the top reasons:
- 48% say additional costs are too high (taxes and shipping)
- 24% did not want to make an account to complete the purchase
- 22% said delivery was too slow
- 17% said the checkout process was too long and complicated
Many shoppers say they abandon their carts because it’s how they browse eCommerce sites. It is an inevitable consequence of how customers shop. But there are ways to convert these window shoppers into buying customers and reduce the rate of cart abandonment.
Interestingly, there is potential for a 35% conversion rate increase if retailers optimize the checkout process. Finding the pain points during checkout and changing the design and flow can help decrease cart abandonment rates and increase sales.
Marketing strategies and examples of increasing sales in retail
Knowing what we know about the current state of retail sales, it’s time to build a plan to help you succeed. Creating a well-crafted marketing strategy can make or break your shopping season. Customers have cluttered email inboxes filled with offers and discounts- but as retailers, you can still stand out and see your profits soar. All you need to do is provide a connected customer experience over the right channels to make customers want to engage with you. Not just for the shopping season but beyond.
Here are some ways you can start building an engaging marketing strategy that converts:
1. Start with data
Your shopping season communication strategy must be data-driven. Over the years and through the lockdown, you’ve collected lots of customer data. It’s time to connect that data in one place and examine customer behaviors and interests to create a rock-solid messaging strategy.
- Segment your customers based on their age, gender, average order value, purchase frequency, geography, and behavior to provide offers targeted to their needs and desires
- Drill deep into your last year’s data, and know which products drove maximum sales
- Analyze your customers’ shopping behavior during lockdown to get the right products in front of them at the right time and on the right channel
- Identify your most loyal customers and give them an exclusive offer or preview before opening it up to everyone else.
2. Step up your communications
It is time to look at targeted communication campaigns to cut through the noise. With price slashing being the season’s norm, personalization will help you stand out. Know your customers, create tailor-made offers, build segmented campaigns, and be creative.
Make it personal
Once you have segmented your data, ensure the messages and deals sent across are personalized to your customers. A 50% blanket discount is lazy and impersonal. For example, if you’re an electronics brand, promote relevant high-range products to high-value customers. Use contextual information and address them by their first name to make it personal.
Run engagement campaigns
To engage your customers run targeted messaging campaigns across your digital channels. From welcoming new customers to reminding existing customers of an abandoned cart, ensure you have all your engagement campaigns set up.
- Send targeted Emails or messages via chat apps such as Viber to customers who have bought more than a certain number of times from a specific category for the past 6 months
- Don’t just rely on emails; use different channels to grab their attention such as WhatsApp, Mobile App Messaging, Viber, SMS, RCS and Messenger.
- Offer incentives to increase the basket size – like a larger discount for a certain amount spent
- Notify customers about certain offers such as free shipping, next day delivery or click and collect options
- Remind customers about the return process and offer an extended return period
- Create referral bonuses for loyal customers
- Promote your messages across all touchpoints in a consistent manner
3. Setup your website and app
The shopping season means higher online volumes compared to normal days, which means your website and app must be ready to take on the traffic but also enhance the customer experience in a scalable manner. Remember, creating a seamless experience can boost your conversion rate.
- Omnichannel engagement solution: Invest in the right omnichannel customer engagement solution like Moments that will deliver advanced opportunities for connecting via digital channels. The solution should be able to build connected customer profiles and push automated campaigns at the right time across key channels.
- Seamless checkout: provide a seamless checkout for all mobile and website users with a secure payment gateway to boost conversion rates and add consistency along all devices
- Boost customer support: Integrate an intuitive chatbot through our chatbot building platform Answers, to improve responsiveness and provide 24/7 quality support to customers. With a smooth transition to live agents for complex inquiries using Conversations, customers will have the best possible support system available during the busy season
- Triggered campaigns: Setup automated workflows for email, WhatsApp, SMS or push notification campaigns. Encourage customers to pick up where they left off by providing them with easy access to deals and products.
- Price alerts: Add price alerts for specific products or categories before they go on sale. Automate notifications via chat apps, SMS, or push and reach your customers on time.
- Geo-location: Use geo-location flows to notify customers via in-app messages when they’re near a store to entice them to come in and make a purchase or to inform them about an exclusive sale in their area
4. Prepare for delivery and returns
Nothing is more frustrating than a failed delivery or a complicated return process. The shopping season is the perfect time to attract new customers. Still, a bad customer experience could make this their last shop with you. It’s important to market yourself as a smooth operator for deliveries and returns and deliver on your promises.
- Improve efficiency and make the customer experience for both deliveries and returns less painful by ensuring 24/7 customer support at hand
- Use digital tracking to help customers determine whether their orders have been processed and when they can expect to receive products. Notify your customers at every step of the way for deliveries and returns
- For customers who choose to collect their orders, remind them of the process and use QR codes for a touchless in-store interaction
- Set automated reminders to remind customers closer to the return date in case they wish to return the order and avoid disappointment
5. Campaign to retain customers
Once the shopping season is over, your customer engagement doesn’t end there. It’s time to boost loyalty and retain new customers. Many customers look for the best deal during the shopping season and are likely to be enticed by discounts.
Build on this and incentivize new customers by:
- Incentivizing them to take specific actions. Like a 10% discount if they leave feedback
- A personalized message on an item they were interested in but is out of stock
- A chance to have access to loyal customer privileges by making another purchase
Examples of how to increase retail sales with back-in-stock alerts
Shopping season can mean many popular items are out-of-stock, but that doesn’t mean sales need to slow down. By sending automated back-in-stock alerts, retailers can ensure customers don’t forget about items on their wish list or in their carts. It’s a great and simple way to increase sales and ensure the busy season stays busy.
1. Send back-in-stock alerts as items hit your warehouse
When your new shipment arrives and the item is back in stock, send an alert to customers waiting for that item. The product availability reminder must be specific and concise, with a call to action to encourage your customer to pick up where they left off.
Sending these alerts on the right channel changes how customers will act. Here are a few popular channels that can help you make sure customers see your back-in-stock updates and act on them:
- SMS: With 90% of people opening SMS messages within 3 minutes, it’s a great way to send alerts and ensure they are seen. Customers can follow a hyperlink to your website and add the back-in-stock item to their cart.
- WhatsApp: 86% of customers will pay more for better experiences, and you can offer them a seamless experience with WhatsApp. Send back-in-stock messages over this popular channel to ensure customers see the alert and provide easy ability to order the item instantly within the chat app conversation.
These messages remind the customer of items on their wish list. They also show that you understand how they want to communicate with you and add value to your interactions.
2. Allow customers to hold items by replying
Your customers are constantly on the go. Make sure you offer services that work around their busy lives during the holidays. When items they love are back-in-stock, give them the option to reserve the item until they are ready to purchase by replying to your message.
Try using varying channels to get your customers’ attention for these back-in-stock or low-in-stock items. Send an initial email or SMS to notify them, and then if they do not act, send a follow-up message on WhatsApp or Viber. This will convey a sense of urgency and increase the likelihood of them completing the purchase. You will reach them through their preferred channel and secure a contact point for future communications.
3. Send links to purchase other items you carry
Let your customer know if you cannot get the out-of-stock items in time for holiday delivery. Use the opportunity to flag alternative items in stock that might address their needs. Be very specific with your suggestions for other options:
- Suggest items under the same brand, competitor, or previous versions
- Suggest the same or similar items in a different style, color, or brand
- List items that other customers purchased instead of the first choice
Use chat apps or Rich Communication Services (RCS) to send images and videos to customers to showcase the items. You will add greater value to messages by adding visuals, and your interactions will lead to higher conversions.
4. Follow up with a discount
If you won’t be able to get the item back-in-stock, send a discount code for another item in your store. You can tie the discount code into the alternatives you suggested in previous messages or offer a personalized discount code.
Personalization is more than showing you know their first name. Analyze behaviors and past purchases to send relevant discounts and promotions they are more likely to act on. You could use geo-targeting features to entice customers to visit your local store. Send them push notifications near your location to let them know about a sale or special offers.
Sending these messages on WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger, SMS will make their customer experience as seamless as possible and help ensure your engagement converts to sales.
Continued success after the holidays
Having a data-driven and relevant marketing strategy prepared will help your retail business get the most out of the holiday shopping season. But don’t stop there. Retaining your holiday shoppers is a goal every retailer should have in order to improve their bottom line all year round. Utilizing these tips and creating a solid marketing plan for this shopping season is just the beginning. Connect with your customers using personalized messaging over their favorite channels to continue the success all year round.This post was last modified on July 1, 2022 and originally published on October 16, 2020.