Last year’s unprecedented holiday shopping season brought e-commerce’s rapid expansion to the forefront. The pandemic forced brands and consumers to adapt to online shopping and virtual experiences, completely altering the way that consumers discover, shop and make purchase decisions. A recent MarTech study found that 81 percent of Americans did more than half of their 2020 holiday shopping online and plan to do the same for this year. Forty percent of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping earlier, and 30 percent plan to spend more this season.
With this irreversible change in consumer behavior, brands need to look to the past to learn how to prepare for the 2021 holiday season and beyond. Gone are the days when Black Friday is a fleeting e-commerce explosion. Today, brands should expect high transaction numbers for weeks as buyers opt for online shopping over brick-and-mortar retail. Emarketer predicts holiday e-commerce sales to rise 11.3 percent to $206.88 billion this year.
Now is the time to refine online strategies to prioritize customers’ shopping experiences. Here are four tips on how to take advantage of one of the most important times of year in e-commerce:
1. Prioritize personalization.
One of the key reasons that people shop online more than ever is convenience. Retailers can stand out from the competition by offering a personalized journey that seamlessly guides shoppers to the right products, offers and messages at the right time.
This emotional time of year is inspiring consumers to spend more with businesses that understand their needs on a personal level. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers anticipate this holiday season to be more meaningful than past years. In fact, 61 percent want personalized suggestions from their favorite brands to help make this holiday season more special. Relevant, personalized e-commerce experiences will be more important than ever.
2. Optimize for mobile commerce.
Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, has been on an upward trajectory for years, with 2021 no exception. eMarketer predicts that m-commerce sales in 2021 will reach nearly $360 billion, a 15 percent increase over 2020, when they grew nearly 42 percent. Retailers need to ensure that their e-commerce sites are optimized for small-screen experiences. Things like security, load times, and dynamic content should all be examined and updated as shopping from smartphones continues to expand.
3. Create a seamless checkout experience.
It’s particularly important for sellers to optimize their site’s checkout process during high-volume times like the holidays. According to eCommerce holiday shopping trends for 2021, a merchant’s checkout flow will be a significant factor in determining conversion rates among shoppers. A faster, simpler and more accommodating checkout process is essential year-round, but especially during the holidays.
While it may be tempting to overload shoppers with upsells and other offers on the checkout page, messages should be limited and extremely tailored to individual shoppers to increase the likelihood of engagement. Businesses often make the mistake of presenting too many items to customers, but most shoppers only engage with three offers.
4. Marketing timing is everything.
Consumers today are bombarded by messages, making it critical for brands to find the right time to reach their audience. Try to present the best offers to customers when their attention is high — i.e., during the final stages of a purchase instead of trying to capture their attention while they’re passively scrolling through social media.
The happiest time in the digital world is when a consumer is finalizing a purchase. This critical point, known as the Transaction Moment, is when customer engagement and attention is highest. It’s also the moment when customers are most receptive to relevant offers. Leveraging this opportunity to present holiday messages will foster deeper connections with customers.
Stephen Rivera is the director of retail at Rokt, a global leader in e-commerce marketing technology, powering the Transaction Moment™ with personalized and relevant experiences and offers.