This festive season will be like no other.
eCommerce retailers have been resilient and reactive this year in the face of changing consumer behaviour brought about by the global pandemic.
Sales that would normally have taken place in store have shifted online, adding an estimated £5.3bn to UK eCommerce sales this year.
Now almost three quarters of UK shoppers are planning to mainly shop online over the festive season, so retailers can expect this influx of sales to continue into Q4 as shoppers avoid bricks-and-mortar stores.
With the Christmas season quickly approaching, we explore the best ways to get your online retail business prepared for the busiest time of the year.
1. Establish your calendar and plan your promotions
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas delivery deadlines and post Christmas sales are all part of the busy period that is Q4.
Mapping out your marketing calendar will set you in good stead for creating and executing successful campaigns by using these dates to your advantage.
Deciding on the duration of your promotions and ensuring all marketing materials are in place well in advance will eliminate last minute mistakes and stress.
Black Friday is one of the standout dates of Q4. According to Barclaycard, sales volumes on Black Friday last year were up 7.2% compared with 2018. Combine this with the significant uplift in eCommerce due to the pandemic, and it becomes clear that having a clear plan in place will ensure you make the most of the busiest buying time of the year.
Thinking of how to promote your discounts or want an innovative way to let your customers know about your delivery deals? Utilise Behavioural Overlays to promote your Christmas delivery deadlines, promotions or encourage newsletter sign ups.
2. Use data-driven insights to inform a reactive strategy
Retailers usually use data from the previous festive period as a baseline for strategic plans and decisions for the current year.
But as customer behaviour has evolved over this unpredictable year, retailers will not necessarily be able to rely on patterns from past years.
Reviewing which of your campaigns were the most successful last year or any staffing and stock issues you encountered will still have some value, but the most crucial component of your 2020 eCommerce strategy will be data-driven insights.
Using real-time data in your campaigns will allow you to identify and react to changing trends. By tracking, analysing and applying data to your strategy, you can see what is working and what is not, making adjustments where appropriate.
To fully realise a reactive data-driven strategy, you’ll need dynamic elements on your site that respond to real-time trends. AI can transform your data insights into personalised content and recommendations based on both user behaviour and market trends.
3. Optimise your site search
Last year more than 7.5 million searches were made in the UK on Black Friday.
This influx means that the speed and accuracy of your on-site search is key to optimising your conversion rate over this period.
Slow load times, inaccurate results and hard to find search bars all prevent customers from finding their perfect gifts.
Optimising your search bar will ensure it is delivering genuinely relevant results and performing to its maximum potential. This will work to boost your sales, improve engagement rates and promote customer loyalty.
If you’re looking to enhance your on-site search, try our BlastAI-powered Search for free.
4. Revisit your basket abandonment emails
The busiest shopping season of the year presents the perfect opportunity to review and update your email campaigns to achieve maximum success.
With nearly seven out of ten shopping carts being abandoned, improving your basket abandonment email sequence can recover lost sales and re-engage customers.
According to research by Forrester, 90% of cart abandonment leads go cold within just one hour, so optimising the time you send abandonment emails can have a significant impact on sales recovery.
Revising your basket abandonment email sequence in line with the festive season will ensure your communications are timely and relevant to achieve the greatest impact.
5. Be on hand to help with customer enquiries
Customers expect efficient service and if they can’t find what they’re looking for, they will leave your site and look elsewhere.
It’s important to be on hand to offer customers advice using messenger. This empowers customers to find information about a product almost instantly, increasing the chances of them buying.
If a customer feels they received the support they needed before, during and after a purchase, they will be more likely to return.
Since eCommerce sites are expected to see an influx of online shoppers in Q4, it is a key time to acquire new customers. If you impress them during their first visit to your site, you can grow your database of engaged shoppers to retarget in the new year.
This year, quarter four will be anything other than business as usual.
With the continuing impact of the global pandemic shifting the face of eCommerce, retailers will need to be more reactive than usual during the final months of 2020.