It is no secret that the rise of e-commerce has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. Even as brick-and-mortar stores reopen and consumers can once again browse through a mall or their favorite store, people are still routinely turning to e-commerce options. Based on data provided by the government census’s Monthly Retail Trade Report, NetElixir estimates that e-commerce will account for over 25% of all retail sales this holiday season (up from 16% in 2019). Their online shopping experiences may be blended, as they opt for curbside delivery or in-store pickup rather than traditional shipping. According to our recent survey, more than 70% of consumers are open to exploring and buying from new online retailers, creating brand new opportunities for e-commerce retailers this holiday season.
With the digital landscape taking on an increasingly important role in how retailers reach and serve their customers, an optimized website is crucial for success this holiday season.
Mobile access propels your sales both directly and indirectly. An optimized site can help customers quickly buy products on the go, leading to more impulse buys. More than 50% of visitors will abandon a mobile site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. This not only costs retailers the immediate sale, but hurts their credibility in the future. Small site maintenance, such as checking pagespeed insights and broken links, will go a long way into improving a site’s user experience. Improving a website won’t guarantee a customer completes a purchase, but it allows them to see at least what a website has to offer.
Yet, e-commerce isn’t just a shop, click, and done experience; consumers will return to websites again and again throughout their buyer journeys, looking for inspirations, deals, and the latest information. As the coronavirus pandemic is still pushing people to try out e-commerce for the first time and prompting more exploration of brands, retailer’s websites need to be ready to showcase their products in an easy-to-navigate format, provide inspiration mimicking physical window shopping, feature prominently in search engine results pages for casual searchers, and have a seamless checkout experience.
An e-commerce website will play a vital role in all stages of the consumer journey during this financially critical holiday season. As Bob Dillon, the Managing Director of Sales for Google Customer Solutions noted, online shoppers want a reliable experience. They want updated information on delivery times, in-store availability, and return policies. Even if consumers chose to shop in-store, they will extensively research retailers through their website beforehand to confirm inventory, safety measures, and location. Dillon projects that consumers will plan out their shopping ventures more thoroughly and consolidate their trips; this means consumers will most likely have a specific product in mind when they visit a brick-and-mortar store. As consumers want a safe in-store shopping experience, they may limit how much they browse. However, the browsing opportunities of a retail e-commerce store are endless, so retailers should ensure a user-friendly site.
There’s more to an e-commerce site than just the checkout tab. BOPIS and curbside opportunities will most likely be the hallmarks of this holiday season. Retailers should consider fully integrating social shopping through their channels, such as Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping. Consumers are seeking inspiration and an early start to the holiday season, so holiday-specific landing pages should be curated for easy navigation and prominently displayed to welcome early shoppers to the new holiday season.
On August 13th, NetElixir hosted Connecting the Dots: Holiday Readiness Summit for Retailers to bring together retail industry leaders, marketing mavens, supply chain experts, and strategic thinkers to share their advice, strategies, and holiday marketing resources to help retailers connect the dots for this financially critical holiday season. Each week, we will recap one of these ‘dots’ with any additional information and insights relating to the holiday season so retailers can continue to adapt their strategy and have a successful end of the year.
To help guide retailers, NetElixir compiled consumer insights, four months of research, thoughts and experiences from retail industry leaders, and strategic perspectives from academics into our eBook, Along the Road to Recovery.
The more pieces of information that you have, the more you can connect the dots for a stronger holiday plan. Our Connect the Dots conference may be over, but the holiday season is just beginning. The holiday help continues in our new webinar series Connect the Dots: Holiday Strategies from Retail Leaders. On Thursday, September 10th, NetElixir will be joined by Lenovo’s founding executive of global online strategy, Ajit Saviadasan, to discuss A Different Holiday: Opportunities and Challenges in a Covid World. Register now at https://www.netelixir.com/webinar/.
Further reading on holiday insights: