Retailers are working feverishly to optimize eCommerce operations for the 2022 holiday shopping season. This year, retailers will face new challenges brought about by excess inventory, inflation, and economic instability. But retailers can increase their odds of success with these e-commerce strategies to maximize holiday sales:
Focus on Better Content to Reduce Returns
The average return costs retailers between 15 percent to 30 percent of the original purchase price, and $550 billion annually. Reducing returns should be a key area of focus as return rates have escalated alongside eCommerce sales volumes. Returns were up 70 percent year-over-year in 2020.
Reducing returns starts with getting product information right. This can aid the bottom line and enhance the customer experience by helping ensure shoppers get the exact products they want.
Pay close attention to customers’ reasons for returns:
- “Not as described” – this may indicate product descriptions are unclear or not detailed enough. Be sure the description includes the materials the product is made of.
- “Size too small or big” – move now to retool size chart if customers are finding they are inaccurate. Be sure to include information about models in product images and videos, such as their height and the size they are wearing.
- “Fit not as expected” — this could mean product descriptions and images don’t accurately communicate the fit or how the products appear when worn. To resolve this issue, include Information on the fit type – such as oversized, true-to-size, etc. Additional details may also be warranted; for example, it may be difficult for consumers to gauge the length of a skirt. By providing the back length measurement, shoppers can discern exactly where the skirt will fall on them.
Customer reviews, videos, and live chat capabilities can also provide valuable guidance to help shoppers choose the right size or product the first time around.
Retool Search Engine Relevance
Per Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
Today’s vast majority of e-commerce sites have online search systems that interpret user intent based on phrasing and context to understand transactional, navigational, or informational intent. However, without conceptual data, e-commerce sites can fail to surface the desired products and produce relevant recommendations and content to aid the customer in their buyer journey.
Adding advanced search engine relevancy technology that combines powerful AI, machine learning and behavioral-driven algorithms can significantly improve search engine intelligence. This can be a huge differentiator in today’s modern commerce landscape in manifesting the rich and rewarding digital experiences consumers crave.
Take a Second Look at Loyalty and Customer Data Strategies
Now is the time to re-envision loyalty programs before the holiday season. Winning and well-architected loyalty programs are essential when consumers and retailers alike are struggling financially. Strategic loyalty program design can incentivize customers to adopt “new normal” shopping behaviors such as ordering online, pick up in-store or curbside when shipping costs are high.
Additionally, stricter privacy laws and the moving away from third-party cookies are necessitating retailers shift and think creatively about ways to collect first- and zero-party data. Loyalty programs can serve an important objective of collecting customer data and preferences that can then be used to personalize offers throughout the year ahead.
This zero-party data is especially valuable for retailers as it’s indicative of customers who are most interested in forming a relationship with the brand since the information given is done so voluntarily.
Revisit the E-Commerce Basics
Be sure to revisit the digital commerce basics! All the new functionality available today won’t help sales if your digital commerce foundation isn’t sound. Continuously revisit the customer journey and focus on basics such as website performance, findability, relevance, content layout shift, content quality, and the number of clicks for key components of the customer journey such as add to cart, complete full checkout, contact us, and returns. Testing this functionality on all relevant devices is essential.
The Retail Race is On
Every retailer needs to take full advantage of the robust holiday shopping season; with a focus on these four focus areas, retailers can optimize their e-commerce strategies to best meet shoppers’ needs.
About the Author
Johan Liljeros is General Manager and Senior Commerce Advisor, North America, at Avensia. He has worked in the field of developing e-commerce businesses for over 20 years. Johan’s expertise spans from working on the technical side of platform development to taking an advisory and strategical role in helping businesses grow their online presence.