With retail sales continuing to gain traction throughout the year, there’s little doubt that the holidays (November and December) will be a major revenue driver for U.S. retailers. According to eMarketer’s holiday sales preview forecast, total U.S. retail sales will increase 3.3 percent over the same period last year to $884.50 billion, while e-commerce sales will jump to $94.71 billion, representing 10.7 percent of total holiday retail sales — the largest portion ever.
With this historic shift towards e-commerce, it’s going to be more important than ever that retailers have the right pieces in place to successfully capture that online traffic and drive conversions. Especially for retailers with both brick-and-mortar locations and online shopping destinations, creating the right omnichannel experience will be key. Aberdeen Group Inc. claims that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89 percent of their customers, as compared to 33 percent for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
In this slideshow, SheerID has outlined small changes that retailers can make now to generate both conversions and revenue in the two biggest shopping months of the year.
Generating E-Commerce Conversions
Click through for small changes retailers can make now to generate both conversions and revenue during the biggest shopping months of the year, as identified by SheerID.
Simplify the Checkout Process
In the e-commerce sphere, there are a variety of reasons that customers abandon their shopping carts. One of the top reasons is dealing with a frustrating checkout experience. Harris Interactive found that 47 percent of customers gave up on their purchase because the checkout process took too long, while 12 percent noted it was just too confusing. That may not seem like much, but when there are hundreds of millions of customers who shop online, that could mean millions in potential lost revenue.
A small change you can make to simplify your customer experience is to make it easy for customers to modify their carts — such as removing an item or changing the quantity — without leaving the checkout page. Another is to ensure that special discounts and coupon codes can be redeemed within the existing journey, whether through one-time use coupon codes or a verification process. Forcing customers to leave checkout to go to their email or sign up for a loyalty program to get a discount will only decrease your chances of an actual sale.
Do Your Promotion Research
Holidays and special promotions are synonymous, especially with the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, not all promotions are created equal. If you plan on offering a promotion that features a percentage off an item or purchase, make sure you know what percentage will actually drive conversions. A survey SheerID ran with millennial students showed that 78 percent of respondents would need a discount of 20 percent or more to turn their heads.
If you plan on offering another type of promotion instead of a discount, consider looking at how you can offer free shipping without hurting your margins. Numerous studies show that shipping costs are a conversion killer, with one e-commerce survey from Visual Website Optimizer finding that unexpected shipping costs were the number one reason why people abandoned their shopping cart.
Refresh Your Mobile Presence
If you’ve been putting off allocating resources to making your site mobile friendly, it’s time to bite the bullet. Mobile commerce reached 18 percent of total digital commerce during the 2015 holiday season, up 59 percent over 2014, according to comScore. If these numbers are any indication, 2016 will see yet another increase in mobile purchasing. While a full mobile revamp can take more than a few weeks, start small. Make sure images of products are clear and visible, make changes to ensure your loading times are minimal, and update checkout specifically to ensure that it’s mobile friendly.
Add Chat Support
Harris Interactive found that 75 percent of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live customer service agent, which not only can impact conversion, but also significantly reduce the chances a customer will return. In order to give online customers quick access to customer support, think about adding a chat agent to some of your most popular pages, such as during checkout. Many plug-and-play tools are available for a small fee that easily allow you to quickly implement chat windows directly into your website, which can give you the boost in customer service you need to get customers to follow through on their transactions.
Arm Your Staff with Tech
Consumers are all about getting the best price possible, which means that live price comparisons will be in full force, even while customers are in the store. The 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report found that 69 percent of people make price comparisons on their devices while in store. To make sure your staff is as prepared as possible, invest in tablets or mobile devices to ensure they have access to the same real-time information. Not only will this show your customers that you want to get them the best prices, but it will also show them that you’ve created a customer service experience that parallels the way they prefer to shop.