Tis the season for retail and ecommerce sales - and fierce competition to attract and convert holiday shoppers in their quest to find the perfect present.
Of course, this holiday season, like the previous few, is presenting some ongoing challenges. While concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic have largely abated, the labor market is still wildly out of wack, causing major staffing shortages that have made it difficult for brick and mortar retailers to hire on the additional seasonal staff they typically bring on for peak season. Learn more about one way to attract and retain more retail staff here.
Not only that, but supply chain woes and logistics challenges are still keeping retailers on their toes. Too much inventory and there’s a plethora of overstock to offload in the New Year, which can hurt many brands’ merchandising and promotional strategies. Too little and shoppers will look elsewhere for their gift shopping.
Finally there’s the shoppers themselves. The continual headlines about a recession and inflation are real, and will likely be laid bare most clearly during the holiday shopping season.
Want to be on the winning side of the holiday numbers? Keep reading for four ways to make more holiday sales happen, and round dozen ideas for why adding live video shopping before the holidays is a surefire way to:
- Boost shopper confidence
- Drive more sales, more quickly
- Increase average order value
- Delight customers as they shop for gifts
4 strategies to boost holiday sales in 2022
There is no single best online shopping experience out there - but the best ecommerce experiences all have one thing in common: They’re differentiated. As consumer adoption of online shopping has increased, so have consumer expectations.
The ‘table stakes’ of an ideal ecommerce shopping journey have become increasingly expansive, to the point where anything outside the ‘new normal’ can give retailers a major advantage in attracting new shoppers and driving repeat purchases.
A lot of these points of differentiation that drive higher holiday retail sales aren’t down to merchandising or promotions either. They’re about improving the customer experience, or CX.
Interested in driving more retail sales this holiday season? Here are 5 ways to get more shoppers in your virtual doors and checking out with the perfect gifts in their baskets.
Remove every point of friction from the returns process. No seriously. Every. One.
Returns are the bane of a retailer’s existence around the holidays, particularly in the ecommerce space where delayed returns can miss key merchandising windows. But having a convoluted, costly, or limited return policy is an easy way to miss sales. Here’s some new gold standards for the return process:
- Omnichannel retailers should allow for in-store or mail returns
- Ideally, returns are free or at least subsidized by the merchant; if they are not free, the merchant should provide a painless way to print a return label and convenient drop-off location
- Localized returns services such as Happy Returns, Loop, or Boomerang can be an efficient way to handle reverse logistics that also satisfies customers
- International customers should receive the full amount of their purchase back, including any duties or taxes collected as part of their purchase
- Extended return policies should apply for any purchases made after October 1st; holiday shopping is starting earlier and earlier than ever
Get started earlier than ever. Your shoppers are.
Supply chain and shipping delays. Labor and staffing shortages. Inflation and recession. The headlines are peppered with bad news stories for the holiday shopping season - but some shoppers are seeing this as motivation to get shopping sooner. In fact in 2021, some shoppers were already making a list and checking it twice as early as June.
We get that it’s October so the window to ‘start early’ is quickly closing, but it’s worth saying: the traditionally lucrative Black Friday / Cyber Monday window, for many shoppers, is almost too late.
Here’s several critical ways to gain traction sooner:
- Launch dedicated holiday collections or gift guides on your site now and promote them via social, email, and paid channels
- Promote a pre-Black Friday sale
- Give loyal customers an exclusive discount or promotion, or a series of promotions in the lead-up to the holidays
- Host a kickoff ‘event’ like a private shopping party or livestream to officially launch holiday collections and gift ideas with a bang
- Promote holiday collections or drops with limited-time offers that create a similar urgency as Black Friday (ex: For the first 24 hours after a product drops, offer a steep discount, or a steep discount if they purchase a new item at full price and add on a second item)
Don’t leave shoppers to their own devices.
The holiday season isn’t just crazy for merchants. Shoppers are inundated with a million and one promotions from brands just as eager as yours to capture their attention for the holidays. This may be the highest opportunity to get new sales, but it’s also the highest probability to see shoppers abandon their carts or sessions while they get distracted by other promotions, gift ideas, and seeking the advice of other shoppers.
So what’s a merchant to do? It’s simple: Keep them on your site for as long as possible (but drive them to conversions as quick as possible too).
Here’s some essential strategies to keep shoppers focused:
- Let them add items to wish lists or send wish list items directly to a loved one from your site
- Provide limited time incentives on products they’re showing an interest in - like checkout in the next 20 minutes to receive 500 bonus loyalty points
- Offer buying guides across a range of gift-giving categories
- Promote user-generated content in an obvious way
- Give shoppers advanced filtering options for searches
- Have live shopping associates on hand to answer questions, provide recommendations, and help shoppers through checkout
Kick off the season with a bang!
A slow roll is not the way you want to go with getting into the holiday season. While many brands will quietly release holiday products or collections in September or October, there’s some logic behind getting your shoppers geared up for the holiday right alongside you.
Excitement breeds excitement so build up anticipation. Here’s a few ways to make sure your holiday launches explode like a glitter bomb instead of land as quietly as a snowflake.
- Host a livestream shopping event to debut a holiday collection
- Promote a teaser campaign with hints of items or ‘spoilers’ counting down on a daily basis until the full collection drops
- Corral your influencer network to post about a holiday collection drop on the same day
- Highlight ‘gift giving experts’ being available to provide guided shopping support
- Do an extravagant, time sensitive giveaway, like 10x $1,000 gift cards given away on the same day the holiday collection launches
- Partner with a retail distributor to host a launch party or virtual launch event via email and social
Master these four pivot points for the holiday shopping season and you’re likely to have a holiday sales season that’ll keep coal out of your stocking.
But when it comes to really enhancing the customer experience for the holidays, nothing is going to drive better results than adding a personal touch to ecommerce. Enter live video one-on-one co-shopping.
12 ways live video shopping can drive more holiday sales
We’re in the live video shopping game so naturally, we know that live video shopping drives more sales, bigger basket sizes, and happier customers during the holiday season in particular. But how does it work?
Check out these 12 use cases for spotlighting live shopping as part of your holiday promotions.
1. Offer guided gift-giving services
The holiday season often sends shoppers to retailers they’ve never visited before in search of a gift their loved ones will adore. The question is...which gift? Live one-to-one shopping associates can act as Santa’s elves and help gift shoppers track down the perfect present based on their budget, recipient, and preferences. No more clicking around aimlessly and ‘hoping’ a gift will work out.
2. Help shoppers compare products
It’s a good problem to have: Too many gift ideas to count. But eventually, unlike shopping for themselves, most customers will need to narrow down their gift options to a single present. A live shopping associate can show products on camera, compare them, and help the shopper track down the right item for their giftee.
3. Get personalized recommendations
AI-based product recommendations can only take you so far. A site may recommend two items that go together, but a shopper may know that their giftee doesn’t need one of them. Live shopping associates get to offer real-time recommendations based on preferences, needs, and wants - including how much more a shopper wants to spend to round out their gift.
4. Walk through what’s new
Virtually every brand drops new products before the holidays - if not their largest drop of the year. Navigating all those new products and gift ideas can be a lot to take on for any shopper, but a live shopping associate can help spotlight what’s new or selling fast to steer customers in the right direction.
5. Provide fit recommendations
Shopping for clothes for someone else is always a dicey proposition - especially if you’re from a different age bracket or gender. Live shopping associates can get an idea of a giftee’s size, age, style, and preferences from the customer, and help guide them based on how their brand’s clothing tends to fit. If the live shopping associate is of a similar build to the person a customer is shopping for? Even better - the associate can provide tailored recommendations based on what they know will fit.
6. Create a sense of urgency with on-the-spot incentives
Think of the car salesperson that offers to throw in some bonus accessories if you walk away with a vehicle right this second. Live shopping can create that same kind of urgency, on a personalized basis. If a shopper isn’t quite ready to check out, it’s possible to empower live shopping associates to throw an incentive their way - one that can’t be tracked down with coupon codes on a coupon aggregator. For example, the shopping associate can fast track a sale by offering free rush shipping, or a bonus gift with purchase, if the customer checks out within the call.
7. Talk through key holiday purchase pain points
One of the unsung reasons why shoppers don’t click ‘buy’ when gift shopping is they’re worried something will go wrong. Maybe the item will arrive too late, or be the wrong size, or not be easy to return. Shoppers are generally left to their own devices to sort these things out. But a live shopping associate can answer shopper questions to boost confidence and drive more conversions.
8. Get help with a custom order
For brands that offer customization around the holidays, it can be a daunting task to handle on your own - what if it goes wrong?! Live shopping associates can talk shoppers through each step of a custom order process to inspire confidence, and even use the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell add-ons, like gift wrapping, monogramming, or an accompanying accessory.
9. Lend a hand to low tech shoppers
So the grandkids want something that can only be bought online, and the grandparents aren’t exactly seasoned online shoppers. Enter live video shopping. Live shopping associates can give support at every step of the process, essentially letting shoppers take a backseat as they browse product pages, build a cart, and checkout. In fact, apart from putting in their banking information, they can have an almost entirely hands free online shopping experience! Less confusion = more conversions.
10. Bring some holiday magic into a shopper’s home
Not every customer is going to get the chance to pop into every shop for the holidays. But live shopping hosted out of retail stores can bring some of that seasonal razzle dazzle to everyone. There’s something about a festive atmosphere that’ll get shoppers in a spending mood - one that can even be translated online when a shopper can’t make it into a brick and mortar store.
11. Create an exclusive shopping experience
Generate buzz around the season by launching your holiday collection with the chance to connect with a ‘famous’ live shopping associate. For example, an influencer or celebrity could answer a select number of live shopping calls, whether at random or for contest winners. The customer will get to virtually co-shop with someone they may not otherwise have the chance to meet in real life, and walk away with a full cart of new faves in the meantime.
12. Provide personal gift ideas for the shopper - not the giftee
Holiday shopping isn’t just about shopping for others! It’s about finding items you’ll like as well. Live shopping associates can double as personal shoppers, talking to customers about what they’ve bought in the past and what’s worthy of a spot on their wish list this holiday season.
Looking for even more ways live shopping supports your business? Check out our exclusive guide of live shopping use cases.
Get started with live shopping before the holiday season
Yeah, it’s doable. At least with a platform like GhostRetail. First of all, we’re able to get your live shopping experience going in weeks, not months.
Secondly, we provide dedicated onboarding support at every step in the process. Want to start planning now? Download our ebook, the ultimate guide on How to Build a Live Shopping Experience. In it, we walk through six simple steps to get your live shopping experience up and running fast.
One of the key things you’ll need to figure out is how to staff your live shopping sales channel. And before you think that’s a barrier, recognize that most businesses have two built-in teams that can handle live shopping calls. Brick and mortar stores can use their staff members to answer calls, while DTC brands or those with a limited retail footprint can employ their customer service team. Learn more about how to hire live video shopping staff.
No matter what, the first step to getting live shopping off the ground for your website is booking a demo with our live shopping experts. We’ll see you there.