The holiday shopping season is here again, and it’s not going to come as a surprise that eCommerce has claimed a considerable part of the action! What can retailers do to capitalize on the boost in traffic during this most wonderful time of the year? We sat down with Rachel Hobble, marketing specialist at Virid for a Q&A on this very topic.
Q: With more purchases being made on smaller screens, how can retailers make sure the eCommerce experience is as seamless on mobile as it is on desktop?
Optimizing for mobile means more than just making images responsive on smaller devices. To reach customers where they are, retailers need to ensure that customers can access the information they need anywhere, at any time, even in-store on a mobile device. Product ratings and reviews should be visible on mobile, as 82% of shoppers consult their phones on purchases they are going to make while in stores. Additionally, allowing for mobile payment options like Apple Pay on eCommerce sites creates a more seamless experience for shoppers, and ultimately increases repeat purchases and brand loyalty. Retailers should also consider if their site passes the “thumb zone test,” or if users have to put more effort into navigating their site than they want to. All of these are factors of mobile optimization and can mean the difference between a positive or negative customer experience.
Q: We all know that even the best intentioned holiday gifting can result in returned merchandise. What are some best practices for optimizing the experience for the customer and the merchant?
Although many retailers dread those few weeks after the holidays are over, returns season can actually be an opportunity to highlight the customer experience and build brand loyalty. Research has shown that 58% of customers want a hassle-free ‘no questions asked’ return policy, and 92% of customers will actually buy something again if the returns process is easy. Customers want their products shipped quickly and easily during the holiday season, but they also want the returns process to be equally as seamless. There’s a few ways retailers can make this happen and improve the returns season for themselves and their customers–check out our complete guide to improving the eCommerce returns process.
Q: When it comes to eCommerce shoppers, how should retailers think about Holiday Gifter traffic compared with their core demographic? Are there ways to acquire and retain this audience as well?
For many holiday shoppers, a retailer’s site may be the first touch they have with a particular brand. To make a lasting impression on customers old and new, retailers will need to prioritize the customer experience on their eCommerce site. There are many elements that must work together to create a positive site experience, but there are a few core things that every customer expects from an eCommerce site–Pages that load quickly (3 seconds or less), an easy-to-use site navigation, intuitive site search, ratings and reviews, a simple return policy, and the ability to live chat with customer service. To keep up the momentum from holiday traffic, retailers should focus on creating engaging post-purchase emails–thanking customers for their business, requesting reviews and other user-generated content (i.e. photos of their purchases posted to social media using a branded hashtag), and asking customers to join the brand’s loyalty program. Personalizing the interactions they have with customers will allow retailers to build brand loyalty long after the holiday season is over.
Q: What are three things that the the most successful eCommerce retailers do to engage and retain customers?
- Leverage user-generated content. Retailers that incorporate UGC in their eCommerce strategy retain customers by demonstrating authenticity, building brand trust, and engaging with consumers where they are. By interacting with customers on social media, retailers become a part of the conversation. And by incorporating feedback such as customer reviews and Q&A on their sites, retailers gain actionable insights to improve their brand, directly from their most valuable source.
- Embrace digital transformation. The changing retail landscape and the speed at which technology is evolving can make it seem impossible for retailers to keep up. The most successful eCommerce retailers embrace the changes, and plan for future uncertainty. They partner with forward-thinking technology partners, they constantly refresh their consumer research, and they streamline their operations to be as agile as possible. This allows retailers to change quickly as their consumers’ preferences change, and to engage with customers where they are.
- Prioritize omnichannel commerce. According to a study done by Harvard Business Review, 73% of shoppers use multiple channels during their shopping journey. Consumers are taking a variety of pathways to checkout, engaging with everything from social media, ratings and reviews, mobile sites, and even retail apps along the way. And many consumers still shop in brick-and-mortar stores as well, often even visiting a retailer’s mobile site while in a physical store. Customers will interact with a brand at multiple touchpoints, and providing a seamless experience between all of those touchpoints is the heart of omnichannel. A true omnichannel experience can lead to increased engagement, higher customer satisfaction, and ultimately higher sales for retailers.
Q: What do you see as the biggest trends in eCommerce for 2019?
As retailers continue to find ways to compete in a crowded market, we predict that achieving omnichannel commerce will become increasingly important. This will mean prioritizing mobile optimization in every aspect of the customer experience, from the eCommerce site to marketing emails, as well as improving efficiencies along the supply chain. Retailers will need to re-evaluate their technology partners and ensure that their tech stack is truly optimized to support omnichannel. Additionally, providing consumers more ways to shop–i.e. selling on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, providing ‘Buy Online Pick Up In Store’ or ‘Shop by Store’, and offering multiple payment methods–will allow retailers to differentiate themselves and provide a winning customer experience.
We hope this helps you shape your eCommerce strategy for this holiday season and beyond! And many thanks to our friends at Virid for providing us with these useful recommendations. Happy Holidays!
Virid is a team of eCommerce experts providing a comprehensive solution for growing retailers. Their unique offering includes an enterprise-grade hosted eCommerce platform with 24/7 monitoring, website development, and ongoing technical and strategic support from a results-oriented team. Check them out at www.virid.com.
Rachel is the Marketing Specialist at Virid. She loves all things creative and develops the content strategy for Virid’s website and social media. When she’s not writing whitepapers or creating email campaigns, she enjoys scrapbooking, baking, and playing with her dog, Coco