How Retail Marketers Can Ease Holiday Shopping for Consumers
We’re almost two years into the pandemic, and the global supply chain is still a mess. Nike is warning of shipping delays until next year; Costco has started to limit purchases again; Ikea, Walmart, and Home Depot are buying their own containers and chartering vessels to combat shipping bottlenecks.
Everywhere they look, consumers are being inundated with headlines warning of shipping delays, low online stock, and barren store shelves this holiday season. Understandably, it’s caused some uneasiness about how exactly to go about holiday shopping this year.
Luckily, marketers can help guide consumers through these high-stress times. Whether it’s providing gift guides or being transparent about shipping and inventory challenges, brands can provide consumers with relevant communication to make sure they get what they need in time.
Below are three ways brands can assist all of their customers this holiday season — from type-A gift planners to the procrastinators at the mall on Christmas Eve.
Inspire Gift Ideas With Holiday Gift Guides
Providing holiday gift guides is a great way to engage shoppers when they need gift inspiration. Given the inventory and shipping challenges of 2021, gift guides are also a great way to steer customers toward purchasing products that are less likely to have delays so that orders are easier to fill.
Gift guides should be packaged up and sent to consumers on their mobile devices in a way that’s visually engaging and personalized to their gift-buying needs. By leveraging real-time behavioral data, marketers can send relevant recommendations that are more likely to be added to carts.
Brands that nail an inspiring gift guide will succeed in getting consumers purchasing holiday gifts that are hassle-free. Plus, the more consumers can avoid shipping delays and out-of-stock items, the jollier they’ll be.
Trigger Abandoned Cart Reminders
Items are expected to sell out this year — and quickly. Some consumers may prefer to take a more lackadaisical approach to checking off their loved ones’ wish lists, adding products to their online shopping carts with plans to order later. This year, however, waiting a few extra days could be the difference between a checked wish list box and an empty one.
Brands should notify consumers when items left in their cart are in low stock and dangerously close to selling out. They should also make consumers aware if a product needs to be ordered by a certain date to ensure delivery by Christmas. These notifications can be delivered directly to customers’ mobile devices (via push notification, SMS, or email) to ensure they see them and act quickly.
Abandoned cart notifications serve as a win-win. Not only do they encourage shoppers to hit the “submit order” button and drive revenue for your business, but they also ensure that consumers get what they want, when they need it.
Be Transparent With Shipping Communications
In the past year, many of us have purchased an item only to find out the expected delivery is a month out. Or perhaps we’ve been promised a reasonable delivery date only for it to get pushed back several times. This inconsistency and lack of transparency can erode consumer trust and cause frustration, especially when consumers are shopping on hard deadlines.
That’s exactly why marketers need to overcommunicate when it comes to shipping and order status. Not sure exactly when an item will ship due to short staffing at a distribution center? Tell the customer up front. Will the customer have to pay extra for expedited shipping to ensure their gift arrives by the holidays? Be transparent.
A survey on consumer SMS notification preferences found that the top two reasons consumers prefer to receive texts from brands are for updates on shipping (48 percent) and order status/confirmations (44 percent). Marketers can meet this need by sending communication to confirm an order has been received and then helping the customer track items throughout the delivery process. They can also allow customers to personalize the amount of notifications they receive. By keeping customers constantly in the loop, you’re demonstrating that you value their patronage and can help ease the stress surrounding holiday shopping in 2021.
The Bottom Line
Neither consumers nor brands can escape the residual global supply chain effects sparked by the pandemic. However, marketers can help guide their customers through these holiday challenges by sending them timely, relevant and personalized communications. With a well thought out strategy, retail brands can ensure customers get their gifts in time and make this holiday season one to remember.
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