Prepping From Product to Purchase: Every Layer Counts During Holiday Shopping Season
In 2020, retailers had to get creative to ensure a positive and safe shopping experience amidst the global pandemic. Sales started earlier, new promotions were introduced, and digital strategies pivoted in preparation for the ramp-up in digital shopping. At the same time, consumers also grew savvier as a result of spending unprecedented time online.
So what do the shift in strategies and record-breaking online sales in 2020 mean for the 2021 season? What are the layers that, when combined, can offer not just best business hygiene practices, but a true maximizer effect at a critical time of year?
Phase 1: Check your product.
Especially at a time when supply chain disruption may be the defining obstacle, it’s critical that brands make sure that they have a healthy stock position, first and foremost. This includes having product to sell as well as ensuring the right elements are in place to have that product arrive at a buyer’s doorstep in the best shape and form. It also means leveraging 2020 data to inform how best-sellers might perform based on last year’s numbers, whether price points need to be adjusted or if description pages could be better optimized. The latter is a keystone factor, as descriptive details will essentially take a virtual shop window beyond the site and into the wild, directly to customers
Phase 2: Assess your audience.
Product will only sell if consumers show up to buy it. Assessing customers for targeting through acquiring audiences first is a key way to determine messaging strategy. Therefore, brands must ask themselves what they're doing to win the hearts and minds of customers well in advance of the big selling days. Acquiring audiences directly relates to reaching a critical mass of consumers, and capturing that market share then translates to share of wallet.
To fuel an effective sequence, brands need to align their budget to allow for paid media that maximizes digital influence to impact in-store activity as well. Ad formats that include a video element plus an easy shop button will both attract an audience and optimize their visit, either prompting a purchase or inspiring a trip to the retailer’s store location. Measuring the value of digital effort for both online sales and incremental in-store footfall leads to a more comprehensive view of today’s omnichannel marketing approach. Budgets are also a crucial focus because of additional competition this year; with many more digitally active brands, even online mainstays need to up their presence to stay ahead of the market.
Phase 3: Get online conversion-ready.
With product and audience outreach aligned, brands must next ensure a robust website that’s ready for high traffic levels if (hopefully when) those efforts are successful. In addition to the functionality of the site, businesses need to focus on key website optimizations that will maximize visibility, traffic and conversions on the most important pages so that those pages are findable, discoverable and geared to convert.
Strategic questions brands should ask include:
- Are our product description pages optimized to drive the biggest impact at the closest point to conversion?
- Do we have a dedicated sales page?
- Is our page speed optimal to ensure we’re not losing users at the moment they’re ready to transact?
Timing is key in being conversion-ready. Brands need to launch holiday sales pages as early in the season as possible, or even before it, as consumers are now doing their own research, seeking early deals or information on when holiday sales will go live.
Phase 4: Optimize social channels.
Online and traditional retailers need to make sure all media platforms are set up for success, including social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok — all are tributaries that feed into the point of conversion. As each draws a slightly different user, brands must take the time to optimize UX so that it makes sense in each direction. Decisions around video content, shop buttons, and inventory selection need to be tailored to offer the best and smoothest road to conversion possible.
Phase 5: Be data-ready.
The work doesn’t stop when the big money-making days finally arrive. At these moments, brands need to ensure their data collection and measurement are strong enough to inform where to go next and how to plan for the future. They must be intentional in collecting it from every direction: pricing, merchandising, customer feedback, online behavior, reviews, email responses, etc. Data is throughout. It’s the wallpaper behind every part of the process, inward and outward. The robustness of this year’s data dramatically impacts the next year; analysis will drive success in conversion now and impact planning for 2022, when inflation is in play and marketing is more expensive. Strong data governance is critical to maintaining an ongoing competitive advantage, to the point where it should be a standard factor in retail hygiene.
Phase 6: Learn for next year.
Post-event activity is especially important, as is watching year-over-year activity to create evergreen peak season environments where successes can be leveraged. From there, brands can get ahead of the game for the next peak season while raising the bar to leverage successes year after year.
Steve Warrington is global vice president of e-commerce and retail at Jellyfish, a digital marketing agency.