If you have ever stressed out about holiday shopping, imagine how pressure-filled the season is for online retailers. This year’s Black Friday nearly broke the record for the most online spending in a single day, with $7.4 billion (License Global). If that's not a big enough reason to break a sweat, this year’s digital growth for this period had a 43% increase over last year. Luminos Labs hopes the following retail industry trends will help to alleviate some of that holiday stress and guide your customers on the path to conversion.
Optimizing your holiday shopping retail experience with automation can deliver efficiencies in labor, delivery, and the ability to offer personalized products that provide perfect last-minute gifts. If you aren't aware of how much disruption automation will impact the industry, in 2023, the Retail Automation market is expected to be worth $19 billion (Markets and Markets). From automation, Amazon can expect a 5% to 10% increase in top-line improvement due to additional transacting traffic from reduced wait times to optimize assortments and personalize promotions (Mckinsey). Even a typical retail grocery store can operate with up to 55% to 65% fewer hours due to available automation technologies (Mckinsey).
What happens when your customer doesn't know what to buy for a gift? Chatbots can come to the rescue, improving customer service, tracking buying trends, and allowing retailers to respond faster while increasing engagement.
According to a survey of executives by Accenture, 57% agree that conversational bots can deliver a significant return on investment for minimal effort, and 60% agree chatbots improve the ability to handle client queries by networking with other bots. Also, 54% believe chatbots improve customer acquisition retention by guiding customers through the order process. Chatbots may seem like a new "pop-up ad," but don't doubt their success. Ebay's shopping chatbot's users are three times more likely to ask questions about products than those only using the website for information (Forbes).
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI-powered recommendations are helping retailers boost holiday shopping by leveraging machine learning to develop proactive customer service based on buying behavior. In 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be handled entirely by AI, an increase of 400% from 2017 (Gartner). As of 2018, 28% of businesses have deployed AI into their ecommerce (Chain of Demand), and it is believed to have the potential to help retailers save as much as $340 billion annually (Capgemini). As mentioned previously, Episerver Marketing Automation combined with Episerver Triggered Messages has AI components that can be utilized for omnichannel marketing campaigns while Episerver Content Recommencations can drive personalized content through AI. Episerver Product Recommendations is similar, but promotes products instead of content articles.
Create a safe online shopping experience by notifying users of data privacy, payment portals, and assure trust. 28% of online consumers have stopped an online transaction because they felt the company was collecting too much personal data (CustomerThink), and 63% believe retailers are accountable for ensuring consumer privacy in the retail industry (NTIA). What's worse is 20% of companies said they had experienced an online security breach, identity theft, or a similar crime during the past year (NTIA).
Some best practices are to promise not to share or sell data, promise not to retain unnecessary data, and tell customers what they need to do to delete their information to avoid these pitfalls. Episerver can make your customers feel secure with their trusted privacy solutions.
More than ever, your customers are looking for mindful gifts that are empowering, environmentally conscious, recycled, artisanal, ethical, and local products. 87% of Americans will decide to purchase a product because the company supports an issue they care about (Cone Communications). 64% of respondents who think it's extremely important for a company to take a stand on a social issue also said they were very likely to purchase a product based on that commitment (Shelton Group). Fjallraven, an outdoor goods retailer and Episerver client, promotes "Leaving basecamp in better condition than we found it" as a statement of sustainability, and their backpacks are an internationally recognized popular holiday gift.
Getting the perfect gift has to feel right, and by providing personalized, relevant, smart comparisons, you can guide the buyer to that unique item they desire. Companies that use AI to understand customer intent for personalization are predicted to see an increase in profits of 15% by 2020 (CMO). 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history (Instapage). To put things in perspective, Amazon generates 35% of its sales through its personalized product recommendation engine (CMO).
Episerver Personalization takes search to the next level providing search results based on real-time behavior.
Many holiday hotel reservations start with Tripadvisor, Yelp for dinner gatherings, and Amazon reviews to make sure their gift isn't junk. It may be because 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions (Podium). Your customers want to be informed because, according to a Zendesk study, 90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86% said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Adding reviews to your ecommerce website can boost conversions by 270% by displaying (Spiegel Research Center).
Using Episerver, you can easily manage and moderate your customers' product reviews, questions and answers, and comments with Luminosity Reviews.
The use of social media in retail has exploded, considering social referral to retail ecommerce sites has grown 110% in two years, outpacing all other referral channels (Emarketer). According to a study by Sprout Social, 77% were more likely to buy from brands they follow on social. Also, these channels have gained far more relevancy because 30% of U.S. Internet users aged 18 to 34 years have purchased through social media (Statista). A plan of optimizing your social media brand presence and utilizing an omnichannel approach may add a little more joy to your holiday season.