The holiday tradition of Black Friday shopping typically comes with crowded stores, camping out in close quarters and a high-touch environment. In the face of COVID-19, this holiday and shopping season will face challenges in logistics and marketing.
Here are some trends to watch for as we move towards the holidays.
Shifting to Social Commerce
Social commerce is the use of social media sites to drive sales, market products and make actual purchases on the sites where consumers are spending time organically. For example, Instagram launched an update of its “Shopping” feature in early July powered by Facebook Pay. The purpose of the platform was to provide an easier way for consumers to browse the products used and offered by their favorite brands and influencers.
71% of consumers report that they are more likely to make a purchase based on social media marketing than any other tactic. This means that brands need to shift their focus to understanding how to utilize these platforms like Pinterest Shopping Ads, Facebook Shop and Instagram Shop.
Focus on User Experience
With more consumers reporting they will only be participating in online shopping this season, user experience with ecommerce platforms and brand websites is more critical than ever. Brands must ensure that their site design is not only engaging and interesting to look at, but functional and easy to use. With an expected influx of online shopping this holiday season, brands and marketers need to ensure their websites are updated and ready to scale with increased traffic.
Other website best practices to keep in mind include:
Following SEO best practices
Optimizing mobile design
Utilizing analytics to understand buyer behavior
Personalizing the shopping experience is critical for brands to break through a crowded digital marketplace. Tactics like using personalized ads based on customer behavior could potentially be the reminder a customer needs to make a purchase.
Additionally, personalization can take place through loyalty programs. If a customer purchases a specific item, brands may want to consider adding a reward for repeated purchases. By offering personalized discount codes to consumers brands can also create organic ambassadors and promote the creation of more user-generated content and brand referrals.
Early Starts and Longer Sales Periods
Many retailers are already beginning to offer “Black Friday” and holiday deals, in order to avoid crowded stores and prioritize safety. With many retailers having been closed down due to lockdown procedures or losing revenue due to lack of physical, in-store sales, offering discounts for extended periods of time may help make up for profit gaps.
With sales being offered for longer online, brands must remember to keep a real-time account of stock in order to avoid backordering or delayed shipping times. Customers are more inclined to repurchase from brands that provide a great experience that includes timely shipping.
Alternative Shopping Methods
In order to decrease store capacity, it is critical that brands consider alternative shopping experiences. This includes options like curbside pick up and exclusive shopper events.
A new, creative method for managing crowds and creating personalized experiences is “register to enter” shopping events. With these events, limited spots are available for shoppers to register online to enter the store and receive exclusive deals. This creates a higher demand for a brand's products by making it more exclusive and prioritizes social distancing guidelines.
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