Holiday Shopping Season 2014: Merchandising Tips and Trends
As technology and shopping habits continue to evolve, it’s becoming more important to market and merchandise consistently among every channel. You could have the best promotions in the world, but if you aren’t effectively promoting each of them, then you can kiss holiday season success goodbye before it even starts. As with the other 2014 holiday shopping season posts, mobile continues to play a crucial role. Below are some tips and trends to help you put the final touch on your holiday campaigns.
Mobile is the New Desktop
By the end of the shopping season last year 43 percent of all e-commerce activity was conducted on a mobile phone, compared to 40 percent for desktops (the remaining 17 percent came from tablets). With e-commerce expected to account for 50 percent of all sales this upcoming season, mobile optimized websites, applications, and advertising are all vital in attracting and keeping customers. Keep things interactive, vibrant, and built specifically for mobile. Simply resizing your website for smaller screens is no longer good enough to keep shoppers happy and engaged.
Don’t Ignore Tablets
While phones lead the way when it comes to mobile activity, tablets are the go-to device for actually making a purchase. According to IBM Analytics, two thirds of all mobile purchases were completed on tablets last year. In other words: the more retail channels blend together, the more likely you are to have someone research a product on their phone, stop by the store to try it out, then make the final purchase on their tablet. Because of this, mobile strategy needs to become an all-encompassing strategy, allowing shoppers to complete tasks and transactions across platforms.
Gift Cards are King
After years of growing in popularity, gift cards have solidified themselves as a must-have item on any holiday shopping list. Whether it’s a card to a home improvement store for dad, a home decor store for mom, an apparel store for your sibling, or a general credit card gift card for your picky cousin, three out of five shoppers purchased at least one gift card last season. As gift cards continue to be the top gift item from year to year, retailers need to stand out in the way they promote and fulfill gift cards. Allow shoppers to personalize the card with a message or image, and make gift cards easier to obtain and redeem across channels.
Promote Guaranteed Shipping
Much like gift cards, free shipping deals are here to stay. Customers not only keep an eye out for free shipping, but they have come to expect it in most cases. The next logical step in the shipping promotion game is to guarantee arrival dates. Now I know that some retailers have used guaranteed shipping in years past, but this year it will become far more significant to shoppers. Why? Partly because of the shipping fiasco that happened last year, and partly because UPS and FedEx have already threatened to cancel shipments if they are not notified of specific promotions. To avoid confusion and keep shoppers in the holiday spirit you should promote guaranteed shipping dates, but make sure you can follow through on them first.
Use Images Strategically
Thanks in large part to the internet, the world is more visual than ever. While vivid images and high definition videos find a nice home online, their use and styling need to be extended into physical spaces as well. Now I know it’s hard to find a retailer who doesn’t use images in their stores, but there often seems to be a disconnect between the store images and website images when it comes to quality and style. Consider using your web approach in your stores. High quality images that look natural and showcase different uses for each product will help draw shoppers into your store. Be sure to stay away from the cookie-cutter product snapshots and staged images.
Overall there has been one major trend that has come to light over these holiday shopping season posts: mobile. Mobile is the one technology that has the ability to touch every channel of a retailers. E-commerce, brick-and-mortar, customer reviews, research, and even POS can all be tied to mobile. Regardless of what your plan of attack is this holiday season, you’re heading in the right direction if it includes mobile.
The next holiday post will cover the predictions and outlook for the upcoming holiday season. Other posts in this series can be found here: Early Outlook, Key Dates, Trends that Took Off, LP Tips, Shopping Experience, Predictions, Analysis