Holiday Shopping Done. Now What?
This past holiday season wrapped up with mixed reviews. While many retailers were bracing for stronger sales, the emergence of Omicron caused consumers to revert back to 2020 levels when it came to discomfort with entering brick-and-mortar stores. Supply chain issues moved up many consumers’ purchasing plans, elongating the holiday shopping season.
While we wait for the numbers to firm up, one thing is clear: e-commerce continues to rule the roost. Many brands have pivoted and continue to move towards direct-to-consumer models (D-to-C) and really doubled down on brand building to capture the many new types of online shoppers that have emerged since the start of the pandemic.
From gifts to groceries, utilitarian shoppers make the majority of their purchases online, while those who “shop by shipping” purchase primarily from providers with the most efficient and economical shipping options. Then there are the “Amazon loyalists,” who won’t make a purchase unless the item is both sold on Amazon.com and highly reviewed. If it doesn’t have a large number of positive reviews from fellow shoppers, they won’t make a purchase.
If yours was one of the lucky brands that successfully built up a good loyal following, what are you doing with those customers post-holiday? Now is the time to implement social shopping. And no, we don’t mean social media shops.
What's social shopping? Innovative e-tailers are now offering consumers to come and shop together on their owned-and-operated websites. Consumers can share a virtual shopping cart, have conversations and make purchasing decisions together. This type of experience satisfies many of the new online shoppers' needs.
Those that shop together with friends and family online tend to purchase faster vs. abandoning their cart and returning to make purchases later after considering other options. Not only does a single, one-way digital action become interactive, it brings back the fun and social aspects of shopping — the next best thing to an afternoon at the mall with friends.
Once a consumer has shopped socially with their friends online, brands have the golden opportunity to build loyalty. Leveraging natural social engagement in the moment is more powerful and profitable than a follow-up email.
Don’t get us wrong: email marketing is still critical. However, the ability to gather consumer feedback in real time on an individual level is one of the most powerful tools marketers and retailers can have. For example, if you see a consumer comment that a sweater is a great deal but they saw it for a lower price on a competitor's website, you can offer that shopper a discount on the spot. Furthermore, you can gather important information that can help inform everything from your marketing and merchandising efforts, to supply chain and forecasting. By really listening to customers in real time you can make them feel their needs are being met by your brand.
Next, imagine that every person who starts a social shopping chat on your site brings three friends that are new to your brand. Essentially, your cost of acquisition was for the one, but you got three. Our data has shown that those three consumers have a 40 percent higher average order value than normal website visitors. They also tend to have a much higher (+250 percent in some cases) lifetime value, and are worth holding on to.
iOS and privacy laws combined with the pandemic have truly changed the shopping landscape. But through it all, one thing has remained constant: there will always be an innate human desire for social experiences. Social shopping and social commerce is the natural next step in the evolution of the digital experience.
Gloria Stitt is vice president of marketing at social e-commerce platform Joyned.
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