Posts tagged shopping trends
The following excerpt, from the article 5 Reasons Your Website Visitors Aren’t Buying, was written by Angela Stringfellow Consultant for SeniorHomes.com, and published on AMEX’s Open Forum. Below, you’ll find a few of Stringfellow’s suggestions that we found most relevant to college stores. Check out her full article for even more tips!
If you’re getting traffic but sales are still suffering, take a close look at these factors. The good news is that the reason your visitors aren’t converting is almost always fixable with some modifications.
Your landing page isn’t congruent with your inbound marketing efforts.
When your visitors reach your website, what are they looking for? Can they find it right away? “If visitors click on your ads, social media posts or blog links expecting to find one thing—but instead are led to a seemingly irrelevant page, they end up confused and frustrated,” says Ken Lyons of the search-engine marketing company MeasuredSEM. “You might even lose their trust in the process.”
The fix: Lyons says it’s critical to employ a cohesive strategy across all your marketing initiatives. That means making sure your keywords and landing page content are relevant and targeted to the ads and other sources that are driving visitors to your website in the first place
Your landing page has no focal point.
Landing page design is one of the most essential elements of conversion rate optimization. Your visitors need to be directed in a clear and concise manner through the necessary steps. When your landing page seems scattered, visitors are left bouncing around the page without a clear idea of what to do next.
The fix: Make use of tools such as heat maps to refine your landing page design. Users’ natural eye path tends to follow an “F” pattern, so you want to place important elements, such as your call to action, in prominent locations.
Your pages are loading too slowly.
With all the fancy scripting languages and graphics available today, it’s tempting to invest in a flashy website design to impress potential customers. But those same complex elements often take longer to load, especially in older browser versions. When you leave your visitors staring at the ever-swiveling hourglass icon, they’re going to hit the road in search of a quicker solution.
The fix: Keep it simple. Test your page load times and eliminate the elements that are bogging down your speeds without providing any major benefit.
The following excerpt, from the article The Store of the Future Has Arrived (and No, It’s not Apple), was written by Christopher Heine for Adweek. The store offers an interesting look at the evolving digital experience necessary to succeed in retail and how major brands are integrating it both into brick-and-mortar and online shopping. To see more innovative examples, read Heine’s full article.
Eighty-five-year-old Chicagoan Martin Shafron, a self-described “computer illiterate,” steps into the rotunda-like entrance of AT&T’s flagship store in the city’s high-end retail district known as the Magnificent Mile. Though Shafron doesn’t realize it, he is also smack in the middle of a retail revolution showing off its gadgetry and pageantry from here to Beijing.
As he waits for one of the iPad-wielding sales associates to assist him with his first iPhone, which he’d bought there the day before, Shafron is sprinkled with what AT&T calls “innovation sounds”—perhaps best described as raindrops going pitter-patter on a digital rooftop interspersed with wind chimes producing cyber inharmonic spectra.
The highly stylized space, which opened last fall, looks more like an art museum than a store, but it’s hardly a bore—there’s plenty of digital eye candy competing for Shafron’s attention as he waits, including an 18-foot video wall equipped with motion-sensory software on which a couple of kids are playing a game.
He, like most who walk through these doors, is seriously wowed by the space, but, he says, “More than anything, I appreciate the hands-on help.”
Call it the Appleization of brick and mortar, where retailers from Michael Kors to Staples to Pep Boys are dazzling consumers with the futuristic in-store shopping experience the House That Jobs Built gave rise to. In fact, a decade ago and just a few blocks from the AT&T flagship, Apple opened its own gleaming, digitized space on the Magnificent Mile—but Apple is no longer the coolest kid on the block. Today, that distinction belongs to AT&T—though there’s plenty of competition from the likes of Nike and Burberry, which have unveiled souped-up stores here in recent months, as well as Apple, which, buzz has it, is prepping its own overhaul.
Employing the latest technology at point of sale is nothing new—for years businesses from car rental companies to Nordstrom department stores have unhooked from the wires. But the trend has gone from merely ringing up sales via mobile devices to a deeply immersive in-store experience—fully digitized but crucially featuring that face-to-face element customers like Shafron demand.
“We want to transform the traditional website experience into the physical experience,” explains Paul Roth, president, retail at AT&T. “It’s all about creating interactions rather than just transactions.”
And interacting they are. The AT&T flagship attracts an estimated 30,000 customers per month, many drawn in by bells and whistles like that giant interactive screen, which lights up the cityscape as it also manages to circumvent a zoning restriction banning exterior signage on the Magnificent Mile. The store has only one traditional retail counter, and the cash registers are tucked away in stylish wood cabinets. Sales associates access the registers not with a key but via biometric fingerprinting software and not while standing behind the tills but, rather, while sitting on a couch face to face with the customer.
The space also features a section devoted to using music apps not only for listening to but also writing tunes. To show how Square, an AT&T partner, can be used by small businesses, there’s a display with real cupcakes and a handmade sign reading “Bake Sale.”
As if that weren’t enough to command one’s notice, a Nissan Leaf is parked in front of a huge picture window, set up to interactively demonstrate how assorted auto-based apps can be used to monitor how fast their teenagers are driving. A few feet away, another area features apps that let users track who comes and goes from their homes.
The store hosts cool events with partners as well. Chicago Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull and Eddie Olczyk showed up to take a whack—with a hockey stick, duh—at Otter’s new smartphone cases to demonstrate their durability.
“Humans remember stories,” says Christina Cheng, area manager of the AT&T store. “So explaining things with stories instead of specs is a much easier way for people to understand how technology can help them.”
The space and its collection of shiny things serve as a lab for what might be deployed elsewhere at AT&T’s 2,300 locations. “You will see six or seven elements of the Michigan Avenue design incorporated to scale with the rest of our portfolio,” says Roth.
More than merely influencing what’s to come at AT&T, the store has become an incubator for what consumers will come to expect from retailers across the board—and it’s not just tech companies that are dotting their blueprints with digital tools.
Claire Huang, CMO of JPMorgan Chase, says many more tech features are in the offing. “We’ve developed a new branch concept with an open format that gives customers options. From the traditional teller window to the advice zone and tablets to self-serve kiosks and the instant-issue credit card machines, our approach is centered around choice and making the experience better for the customer,” she says.
Some may be surprised to learn that another emerging player in this space could be e-tailing monster Amazon. Even as the company has strained the bottom line for brick-and-mortar stores, reports have Amazon now eyeing a presence on the street. Amazon already has experimented with pick-up sites in markets including New York, and one can only imagine what a full-fledged Amazon store might look like.
“Retail is under siege,” D’Arcangelo points out. “The online retailers want some kind of physical presence, and all the brick and mortars are trying to catch up with the online space. What’s going to happen is a hybrid.” That could mean a deluge of business for agencies like six-year-old Web design company Gin Lane Media, which has done innovative in-store work for the likes of J. Crew and Michael Kors. The latter erected an LED display at Macy’s Herald Square in New York that has the customer walking through a constantly changing video arch. An accompanying 32-inch touchscreen display gets some 1,000 engagements per day, says Emmett Shine, Gin Lane’s founder.
There’s more innovation on the way. In-store marketing firm Synqera is piloting a program for a major Russian retailer starting this month involving facial-recognition software that can determine a customer’s age, gender and mood. Heat-map and dwell-time analytics—longtime darling stats for Web marketers—are also coming to stores.
D’Arcangelo advises that as retailers collect still more data on consumers, “everyone is going to have to think smart, transparent, opt-in, shared ownership of the data. Retailers must be clear communicating what value customers get from sharing that data. Case in point, people love when they get a great recommendation from Amazon.”
Digitization. Appleization. What about Amazonization?
“One of my favorite comments from a recent patron to our flagship store was that it was like walking into a website,” says AT&T’s Roth.
But at what cost to the retailers? While agreeing that brick and mortar is entering a new era,Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester Research, wonders about the return on investment for all these digital playthings. “It’s still too early to tell,” she says.
Roth’s big digital experiment on the Magnificent Mile will ultimately succeed not on the technology alone but also on the human touch that brings in the likes of octogenarian Martin Shafron. AT&T is well aware of that fact, having enlisted some of its best and brightest from around the country to be the face of the Chicago outpost.
“There are 17 different states represented in that store,” says Roth. “Retail always depends on how good your people are.”
And increasingly, on how good they are at ringing up sales on the iPad.
The following article, written by Paul Demery, Chief Technology Editor for InternetRetailer.com, emphasizes the importance of easy navigation both in-store and online. Talk to your MBS Representative about the ways the MBS system can streamline both experiences by giving your store an omni-channel strategy.
Most shoppers, 65% in fact, say that if an e-commerce site doesn’t quickly show what they want, they’ll just shop elsewhere, according to a new study conducted by OnePoll for Redwood Software, which sells technology that helps retailers automate business processes such as updating product information on web sites.
Retail stores scored even worse in the study, which found that 75% of consumers say they have left a store without making a purchase when they couldn’t quickly find the product they were looking for. The study was based on an online survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers in March 2013.
When the poll asked consumers to name specific shopping experiences that annoy them, it received the following answers, with the percentage of respondents citing each:
● Repeating personal information to a customer service rep after entering that information online or via telephone, 62%;
● Going to a store to find something, only to find it’s out of stock, 61%;
● Repeating account information or issues every time a shopper is transferred to another customer service rep, 59%;
● Waiting for a credit on an account after returning a product, 52%;
● The hassle of returning online purchases, 49%;
● Trying to buy something online, only to find it’s unavailable, 47%;
● The hassle of returning in-store purchases, 37%.
The study also found:
● 49% of online shoppers abandon transactions that take too long;
● 48% of online shoppers abandon transactions that are too complicated.
College students have a voracious appetite for mobile apps that help them socialize and communicate. And a November 2012 online survey of 689 US college students conducted by Study Breaks and Campus2Careers finds that they are also committed mobile deal hunters.
Nine out of 10 respondents reported using their phones to scour for deals, coupons and specials; just 10% said they “never” did so. Moreover, 20% of surveyed college students were self-professed mobile deal addicts, saying they “always” checked their phones for the latest deals—another 31% checked their phones for deals “often.” In other words, over half of college students, 51%, were committed mobile deal aficionados.
As one might expect, the large numbers of students looking for purchases with phones in hand translates to large numbers of students making purchases through their phones. The study found that 70% of sampled college students made mobile purchases, and 52% did so at least once a month.
Additionally, college students are using mobile phones increasingly for classwork, a sign that the devices really have penetrated nearly every aspect of student life. Over half of respondents said they used their mobile phone for school-related tasks every day.
Make it easy for students to find deals at your store with our customizable mobile app. On The Go allows students to search your merchandise for information on everything from buyback values to textbook prices. Talk to your MBS Systems Sales Consultant about how On The Go can help your store capture more sales.
The following excerpt is from the article ‘IBM study says showroomers should be targeted‘ which was written by Tom Ryan, Managing Editor, for RetailWire. View the full article for further information on IBM’s findings.
Although the notorious showroomer makes up only 6 percent of all public buying traffic, they’re young, active and influential and should be considered retail’s target customers, contends a new study from IBM.
“This is not the enemy,” said Jill Puleri, VP and global industry for retail at IBM Global Business Services, at a session during last month’s NRF annual convention. “This is your best friend. They’re your advocates and you should be bending over backwards to make your experiences worth sharing to them. These are your ‘chief executive customers.’”
On showroomers, the study found that 48 percent use the store to research products with no plans of making a purchase. About a quarter plan on making a purchase inside the store but get “turned off” by prices, lack of sales help, etc. and wind up making the purchase later online. A third use mobile devices to search prices and find product information in-store.
On the positive side, 58 percent visit online communities more than once a day and over half write a positive review. They’re also typically young, 18 to 34; typically male; affluent; and global, with the largest percent of showroomers in India, China and Japan.
“They are actually incredibly active consumers,” said Puleri. “They’re social creatures who are very likely to share their opinions with their peers.”
The study also found that while brick and mortar still dominated holiday selling this past season, many are considering shifting to online. Of the 84 percent of respondents who said their last purchase was made in a store, 56 percent said they’d “go back to the store” for the next purchase, 35 percent were undecided, and the remaining nine percent were planning to shop online. The last group, labeled “Store Abandoners,” tend to also be in the 18-to-34 group and are “are probably not coming back,” said Puleri. “Guess which group is likely to dictate the future of retail.”
Puleri describes the emerging “Chief Executive Customer” as smart, “emboldened by transparency,” “in full control,” and “dictating their own terms.” For retail, the task is learning “where to look” to communicate with them across the wide space of mobile and social media.
Does your store advertise specifically to showroomers? Share your strategy in the comments section.
The University Bookstore, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, wanted to do something special for the institution’s 125th anniversary. It came up with an advertising campaign using the tagline, “Something old is new again,” and YouTube videos featuring locations and businesses around campus long familiar to anyone who has been part of the Morehead community.
The deliberately vague ads created a buzz and kept people guessing until the store unveiled a new line of vintage tees depicting local landmarks as the finale of its annual fashion show prior to the Homecoming football game.
“It’s not just about the tee shirts,” said Manager Cheryl Farmer. “People who went to Morehead State know about Jim Bo’s. They know about Lockegee.”
Jim Bo’s, a landmark hamburger joint frequented by students, was featured in one of the videos and included a special appearance from Jim Bo himself. Lockegee is a famous rock formation in the nearby Daniel Boone National Forest that is a must-see for most Morehead students.
“We had an alum named Amber Philpot, who’s a local news anchor, do the Lockegee video,” Farmer said. “It’s really a gorgeous spot. And everyone around here remembers Jim Bo’s. He fed a ton of students and when we went to shoot the video, he was there and agreed to be in it.”
The Jim Bo’s video also features Bill Redwine, associate vice president for auxiliary services at Morehead, along with his son Brett. Both Redwines graduated from Morehead.
“When we told Bill about our idea, he loved it,” Farmer said. “He said if the idea was the only thing we brought back from CAMEX, sending us was worth it.”
The idea started at CAMEX 2012 in Salt Lake City with Farmer’s visit to the Campus One Sportswear booth. She worked with the vendor on special designs for shirts depicting places around the campus as a reminder of days gone by in the community.
“Our vendor said a lot of people were going with nonlogo items,” she said. “You can get kind of tired wearing athletic marks all the time, but our shirts are something that’s still Morehead and part of Morehead State history.”
There are nine vintage tees in the series. The shirts introduced at the fashion show featured a pair of local taverns, along with the Lockegee rock and Jim Bo’s. Other shirts highlight an old Morehead pool hall, the marquee from a downtown theater, and a service station.
“It’s great artwork that’s going to appeal to people even if the kids don’t know the place,” Farmer said. “They are going to like them anyway because they’re pretty sharp.”
“People were talking about the ad and everyone thought we were going to bring out a vintage athletic mark,” Farmer said. “We were just going to do a print ad with some banners and Facebook teasers, but the videos have been the biggest hit. They are well done and don’t say you have to buy something in the bookstore.
“We wanted the videos to tie into the 125th anniversary, get people interested, and have them think about their memories.”
The battle is on between bricks-and-mortar retailers and their increasingly potent Internet adversaries.
Frustrated by once-loyal customers who have been wooed away by online merchants, retailers are gearing up with new weapons to stop the continuous flow of shoppers from stores to computers and smartphones.
With the holiday season approaching, some chains are vowing to match prices with their biggest online rivals. Others are offering free layaway and expanding their assortment of unique products or adding Wi-Fi and other digital upgrades inside stores to entice tech-savvy shoppers. There’s even increasing talk about same-day deliveries.
In California, traditional retailers are happily anticipating picking up more shoppers after online retailers started collecting sales taxes in September, losing a crucial advantage when consumers comparison shop. Virginia, New Jersey and several other states will begin collecting sales tax in the coming years.
“We think we have a huge advantage over Internet-only companies,” Toys R Us Inc. Chief Executive Jerry Storch said in an interview. “Every possible way the customer wants to use the Internet — or their neighborhood store — to interact with Toys R Us is available. The customer can choose how to do business with us.”
Online merchants say they are ready to fight. Nearly a quarter of shoppers say they’ll go online to do most of their holiday shopping this year, according to a survey from consulting firm Deloitte, and 75% said they expect to buy at least one item online this season. But Web retailers said they sense the competition with traditional retailers and are busy as well, kicking off their holiday ads before Halloween and expanding free shipping and other promotions.
Amazon.com, the nation’s largest online retailer and responsible for about half of all Internet retail purchases in California, has geared up.
“Every year we want to offer great deals,” spokeswoman Pia Arthur said. “We will have fun types of things going on for the holidays.”
It’s always a high-stakes competition for the retail dollar, and experts say this year it’s more intense than ever. And no wonder: Merchants rake in an estimated 25% to 40% of their annual sales in the last two months of the year. Shoppers this year will drop an estimated $586.1 billion during the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation.
“If the stores don’t do more, then they are going to become antiquated,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group. “But that is why they are doing so many things right now to test what works, and to tell shoppers that they are in the game to play.”
Traditional retailers will have to work hard to win back long-lost customers such as Paul Johnson, once a regular at malls but who now buys “almost everything” online.
“It’s such a hassle running around to stores trying to find anything you want,” said Johnson, a 30-year-old fashion model from Los Angeles, who prowls the Internet for items on his wish list — including kitchen supplies, DVDs and cotton T-shirts.
Best Buy Co. and Target Corp. are taking direct aim at Web merchants with online price matching, partly to grab customers who now use their stores as showrooms — to check out items and then go buy them more cheaply on the Internet.
“We are taking on showrooming,” said Amy von Walter, a spokeswoman at Best Buy, which has granted salesclerks the ability to match online prices for appliances and hardware including tablet computers and cameras during this holiday season. “It’s really about empowering employees to be able to match the price when it makes sense and make the sale.”
Target vows to match prices with Amazon and the Web stores of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best Buy and Toys R Us.
“It’s instant gratification for guests,” said Dustin Hamilton, Los Angeles district manager for Target. “Instead of waiting one day or four or five days for something to come in the mail, you get it right away for the same price.”
The discounter has also added free Wi-Fi to its stores and placed QR bar codes — which can be scanned by smartphones to bring up product information — on ads so shoppers can buy the items directly from their phones.
Toys R Us has extended free layaway until Dec. 16 and rolled out a reservation service so parents can nab popular playthings early and avoid frantic last-minute searching during the holidays.
“You can go order online and pick it up immediately at your neighborhood store,” said Storch, the CEO. “You don’t have to wait around home for FedEx to arrive or come home to the little sticky note on the door.”
UC-Davis Stores is taking an entirely new approach to textbook rush this semester. In an effort to make incoming students’ first experience a positive one, the store is going the extra mile to offer customized service through a new personal shopper program.
The event, promoted as Smart Start, will take place during move-in weekend and focus on welcoming students and their families to UC-Davis Stores while educating them on the ins-and-outs of buying and renting textbooks.
Although they had considered the idea for several years, the store’s staff decided the time was right when they realized that their textbook reservation program had grown to “monstrous proportions,” according to Kato Meley, course materials sales supervisor.
“The program is so large that it now requires a tremendous amount of time and consumes valuable resources right before rush,” Meley explained. “With so many orders, there’s a significant margin for error and, as a result, we found that some students’ first encounter with us involved a mistake; that’s not the perception of the store we want them to walk away with.”
To turn the trend around, Kato and staff decided it was time to implement a strategy that allowed them to “extend a warm welcome and make the textbook buying experience a more interactive one, rather than just handing students a box and sending them on their way.”
So, this year, students and their families will be greeted by a group of employees, creating an inviting atmosphere from the moment they walk through the door. Any interested customer will then be escorted by a student employee to help them locate the correct books quickly, show them what’s available in the store, and answer any questions they may have.
To get the word out about the big event, the store sent a postcard and email blast to incoming freshmen, posted to their social media pages, as well as created a variety of in-store and on-campus advertisements.
“The immediate response from the incoming class has been very positive and I think parents, in particular, will appreciate the effort,” Meley added. “Our staff is very excited, too; we anticipate that it will be a positive experience for all.”
In preparation, the store has ensured they are well-staffed to accommodate a crowd.
“We plan to have a slew of student employees ready and waiting to help,” she described. “In fact, we’ll have three times as many working on move-in weekend as we normally do, plus career staff available for assistance on the text floor as well as in other departments.”
Despite increased competition in the industry, Meley stresses that the Smart Start event goes far beyond simply wanting to gain more sales.
“We want to provide the best customer service possible to everyone who walks through the door; that’s what we’re all about,” she said. “We know our prices are competitive, so we want to focus on developing a four-year relationship with our students and this event is one way to facilitate that from day one.”
Meley’s hope is that, by creating a personalized shopping experience, students will see the store as a resource in the future.
“Our employees will have a chance to talk to new students, get to know them and show them that we’re here to help,” she added. “It’s a new way to prove that we’re dedicated to providing them with the products and services they need at the best price; I can’t wait to see the results!”
Siobhan Spiak and Katie Harada have spent months discussing in painstaking detail the décor of the 185-square-foot dorm room they will share this fall at American University in Washington, D.C.
Together, they envision a bohemian theme: walls painted robin’s-egg blue, floor-length mosaic-print curtains, large plush pillows, tribal-print tapestries and strings of hanging Christmas lights. They plan to use soft lighting and touchable fabrics in purples, blues and greens. Ms. Spiak wants to buy a four-poster canopy bed.
A growing number of retailers are creating specialized services for college students, such as online college checklists and videos of design ideas. Bed Bath & Beyond and the Container Store offer college gift registries. Target holds after-hours shopping events featuring dorm specials. And a number of retailers now offer direct-to-dorm delivery.
According to the National Retail Federation, freshman students and their families will spend an average of $374 on dorm furnishings and electronics, making up more than a third of total spending for college goods. Freshman students and families are spending nearly 11% more now than they did five years ago, averaging $929 per family in 2012 compared with $839 in 2007.
Some families predict spending a lot more. Corrie Bowen, whose daughter Nora will be leaving Williston Park, N.Y. to attend Pennsylvania State University, thinks they will shell out closer to $1,500. To attract the campus set, many stores begin advertising for the back-to-school season—the second-biggest shopping period of the year after Christmas—in March.
Ms. Spiak, the freshman from Phoenix, says she spends hours each week browsing online and looks at what her friends are buying online.
Ms. Spiak says she is “paranoid” about falling behind. Less than one week before move-in day, all she bought so far is a spork, a multipurpose utensil she picked up at an art museum. “At least it’s a start,” she says.
College shopping didn’t used to be so complex. Cindy Adams, whose son Marc will be attending the University of Rhode Island in the fall, says when she first went to college, she bought “some sheets, towels, a bedspread and that’s pretty much it.”
Ms. Adams and her husband Julius, who live in Rego Park, N.Y., are spearheading their son’s shopping efforts. “I picked out his pillows and comforter. It’s blue-and-white striped,” she says. Her husband adds, “We texted him photos.”
For his part, Marc contacted his future roommates, and together they identified the essentials. “I’m bringing the microwave, speakers and printer,” Marc says. “They’re bringing the TV, fridge and the Xbox 360.”
Jason Pina, who has worked in student affairs at colleges for nearly 20 years, says he sees fewer roommate pairs showing up with duplicate items because they have already planned in advance.
Janice Katz of Manhattan has also led dorm shopping for her daughter, Jacqui, a freshman attending Tulane University. Ms. Katz picked up the Container Store’s college list earlier in the summer, and she and Jacqui ordered more than $400 of stuff, including drawer liners, skinny hangers, poster tabs and bulletin boards. They arranged for the company to ship their purchases to New Orleans.
In recent years, many colleges have updated residence halls as a way to stand out among competitors. Some rooms are equipped with individual room-temperature controls, private bathrooms and built-in flat-screen televisions. Common lounge spaces can feature furnished kitchens, tea and coffee services and study and game tables, like pool, air hockey and ping pong.
Still, the size of the rooms has remained much the same. So as students’ shopping lists get longer, they’re arriving with more gear than rooms can hold.
Mr. Moody, the American University administrator, says he still sees families show up with U-Hauls on move-in day. After realizing that they can’t possibly fit everything into the school’s average 180-square-foot dorm room, the parents return home with the truck full of things that didn’t make the cut.
Mr. Pina advises students not to worry about remembering every single thing.
“It’s better to forget an item or two and bring it later,” he says. “You don’t have to bring your winter coat in August.”
Does your store offer dorm decor, a delivery service, or other move-in essentials? Tell us about them in the comments sections!
While mobile stole the 2011 holiday spotlight, one thing that slid in under the radar is the fact that social media sites can help drive sales. Retailers must begin forming their social commerce strategy now, by looking at how their customers are behaving on social media channels both on their sites and across the Web.
Cross-Channel Marketing Guide
OK, it’s time to officially close the book on the 2011 holiday retail season and to shift our attention forward to 2012. For me personally, what makes it difficult to stop looking back are the new trends that emerged that will forever change holiday shopping. By now you know the story:
- Mobile made its mark, with 11 percent of online sales in December coming through a mobile device — an increase of 100 percent over December 2010.
- The empowered customer turned to multiple mobile devices including smartphones and tablets to conduct mobile shopping.
- While overshadowed by their mobile counterparts, social media sites such as Facebook proved they have an influence on consumer buying.
Now it’s time to begin looking at some of the smarter commerce approaches retailers can embrace to ensure they hit the bull’s-eye this 2012 holiday season. Following are some key issues to consider.
Mobile Commerce Is Here to Stay
We now know that mobile commerce is here to stay. In fact, we believe that mobile shopping rates will exceed 20 percent in 2012. A huge part of this growth will come via the iPad, which offers consumers an unparalleled experience, one which this past December drove more retail purchases than any other device.
In 2012, retailers will need to go the extra mile by creating a design and experience that fully takes advantage of the richness and the exploration capabilities of the device.
Next, take a leap of faith and embrace Quick Response Codes (QR Codes). QR Codes are unique bar codes that store a significantly larger amount of data. By scanning the code with a mobile device, consumers are instantly presented with a vast array of data about the company, including nearby locations, special offers and more.
While many feel that QR codes have missed the mark, with mobile shoppers in full swing, this technology represents one of the next big evolutionary rungs on the mobile commerce ladder. Push to make your business’s mobile commerce efforts even smarter by using QR Codes to connect consumers with rich, detailed information about the products that interest them the most, all through their mobile device.
Let’s Get Social
One thing that slid in under the radar is the fact that social media sites can help drive sales. Retailers must begin forming their social commerce strategy now, by looking at how their customers are behaving on social media channels both on their sites and across the Web.
Specifically, look at how consumers are sharing specials and promotions within their networks. Next determine if there are patterns that you can identify and replicate in 2012.
Additionally, take the time to decipher social sentiment. By embracing advances in analytics, businesses can regularly gain new insights into consumer perceptions of their brand that will ultimately help to predict their buying behavior.
It Can’t All be About Mobile and Social
While mobile and social are center stage, email remains one of the most effective ways to engage customers, as long as it’s not overdone. To be truly effective, marketing should be perceived as a service, not an intrusion.
For the 2012 season, begin examining the data gathered over the 2011 holiday effort. Specifically, look at the behaviors of customers to identify clear preferences for time, promotion, and how they consume your messages.
What days were they shopping most, and at what time of day? What devices were they using, and when? Now take this insight and target these shoppers with promotions and special deals at these precise times and on their preferred device.
Be Prepared to Start Early
One trend that was more pronounced this past season was the Thanksgiving shopper. In 2011, U.S. shoppers took advantage of early sales, which drove a 39.3 percent increase in online spending on turkey day, making Thanksgiving the official kickoff to the weekend of holiday shopping.
In 2012, retailers must begin promoting deals a day early and then be prepared to keep them fresh for Black Friday to ensure you keep shoppers interested.
When do you start planning your holiday sales strategy? Share your tips in the comments section!