InternetRetailing rounds up the latest news, insights and trends on how retailers and customers are planning for peak trading this year. In recent years pre-Christmas shopping has been at its highest over the Cyber Weekend of Black Friday to Cyber Monday, but the shape of this year’s shopping could well be different since English non-essential shops are now closed until December 2 under a second Covid-19 lockdown. Non-essential shops are however open in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
RETAILERS MUST DELIVER BETTER ON- AND OFFLINE EXPERIENCES OR LOSE £1.3BN, STUDIES WARN
Channel hopping shoppers are planning to cut their Black Friday budgets by 37% and holiday budgets down 43% – so retailers are being urged to work on their customer experience (CX) if they want to grab their slice of the action. Not doing so could cost as much as £1.3bn in revenue, studies warn.
New research conducted on behalf of JRNI, an experiential relationship management (XRM) platform for scheduling and managing personalised experiences at scale, reveals how, with 43% of shoppers planning to spend less this holiday season, and 37% spending less in Black Friday sales, retailers will need to provide a multitude of shopping experience options if they are to maximise revenues.
A second study from thinkTribe, a web performance and testing service provider, warns that poor online experiences could cost retailers 1.3bn in lost sales opportunities.
Uncovering how the recent surge to online shopping is more nuanced than previously thought, the Rewriting the rules of engagement report from JRNI exposes how consumers are using a host of tools to ‘channel hop’ their way to the experiences they want. It also highlights that these changing behaviours are anticipated to stick long-term.
Since the pandemic began, 58% say they shopped online for items that would previously have been purchased in-store. Over a third (36%) also said they had explored the very latest channels available, including shopping by appointment, audio and video personal shopping consultations, and click and collect/kerbside pickup.
Despite all the hype, however, virtual and augmented reality technologies were met with muted enthusiasm by the overwhelming majority of shoppers; just 8% of US consumers had tried out these types of immersive technologies in the past six months.
The research highlights how the days of spontaneous shopping sprees are becoming a thing of the past. More than half (56%) of UK consumers say they are now far more likely to schedule an appointment to visit a store than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the research from thinkTribe of 2,000 UK shoppers, shows that the average consumer abandons 10% of their online purchases due to poor website performance. This means that retailers risk losing out on an estimated £1.3bn in lost sales over the peak trading period if their ecommerce platforms cannot cope with the surge in demand. And this comes just at the time when many retail businesses are trying to make up ground from lost sales in Q2 and Q3 in order to secure they long-term survival.
John Federman, CEO at JRNI, comments: “We use phrases like ‘omnichannel’ to describe scenarios as though every consumer wants to move seamlessly across everything a retailer, for example, has to offer. However, we have to turn that idea inside out and remember that for consumers it’s all about experience, and always has been. A consumer will choose the experience they want, based on the service or goods they are buying, and then the channel. The businesses that will be rewarded with brand loyalty are those delivering great experiences in stores and online.”
Deri Jones, CEO of thinkTribe, adds: “The pressure to perform in peak 2020 has been magnified by the pandemic and getting Black Friday - traditionally the gateway to Christmas trading - right this year could be ‘make or break’ for many retailers. It’s key that retailers address the fine balance between adding new functionality in order to deliver value to customers’ CX, against being technically robust enough to accommodate those changes because, with any change, you also bring risk.”
URBAN OUTFITTERS AND ANTHROPOLOGIE OFFER SMOOTHER ONLINE PAYMENTS AHEAD OF PEAK
URBN lifestyle brands Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie are set to give customers across Europe a smooother online shopping experience, offering a range of flexible payment options following a partnership deal with Klarna.
Klarna will be available to Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters shoppers in the UK, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. UK customers will have access to Pay in 30 days, the most popular Klarna service, which gives customers up to 30 days to pay for their goods after the item is shipped. They will also have the option of Instalments, allowing them to split the cost of their purchase into 3 equal monthly instalments. Both products incur no interest or fees.
Michael Marth, COO for URBN International, comments: “Our ultimate goal is to provide our customers with the shopping experience that best works for, and fits, their lifestyle. Shoppers are increasingly demanding more flexible and convenient ways to pay so we are thrilled to add Klarna as an online payment option for both the Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie brands.”
Luke Griffiths, Chief Commercial Officer at Klarna, adds: “As a global leader, at Klarna we provide customers all over the world with the opportunity to buy what they love, and to pay for it how they choose. To enable Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie shoppers to do this, not only in the UK but across Europe, particularly at a time when online shopping has been firmly established as a staple in all of our lives, is an exciting step towards achieving this ambition. It has been amazing to see such an immediate adoption and preference from Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie customers, especially in the UK market.”
MISSGUIDED IN ‘LOCKER TAKE OVER’ WITH INPOST TO PUSH CONTACT FREE PEAK SHOPPING MESSAGE
Online fast fashion retailer Missguided is using lockers to push its brand in the run up to Christmas, with a UK ‘locker takeover’ in collaboration with locker delivery brand InPost.
The collaboration will see 180 of InPost’s lockers around the UK fully branded with eye-catching Missguided visuals in the run up to Christmas and beyond.
The aim of the takeover is to raise awareness of this safe and contact-free delivery and returns option that’s available to Missguided customers. As well as 24/7 access and ultra-convenience, InPost’s lockers offer a low-risk way to collect and return goods over the busy peak period.
“Our customers don’t just love our cutting-edge fashion; they also prize the convenience and ease we offer when it comes to delivery and returns. We also know that this year’s Black Friday and Christmas is going to be different for everyone, with many preferring to avoid post offices and busy collection points.
“That’s why we’re collaborating with InPost and taking our brand right to the heart of our customers’ communities. It’s a great way to remind our customers that they can collect their Missguided orders safely and securely on their own watch and at their preferred collection point.” Nick Bamber Chief Growth Officer - Marketing & eCommerce Trading at Missguided.
Jason Tavaria, CEO at InPost added: “Our parcel lockers are easy to use, contact-free and located in accessible and convenient locations. With the bigger focus on covid-safe and contact-free delivery, customers can pick up and drop off their Missguided parcels – along with those of other InPost partner retailers – at any time that suits them. We’re excited to be bringing the Missguided brand to our lockers to help raise awareness of this great delivery option.”
PRICE TRACKING IOS WIDGET LAUNCHED AS SHOPPERS LOOK TO SHOP SMARTER
Klarna is also in the PEAK 2020 news with the launch of a price-tracking iOS 14 widget that allows consumers to track price drops on items they are chasing down across the peak season.
The feature launches alongside new curated holiday Wish Lists, deals and inspirational content to help savvy shoppers buy the perfect gifts for everyone on their lists this holiday season.
A recent study by Klarna revealed that 73% of US shoppers surveyed have made a concerted effort to shop smarter since the beginning of the pandemic, with 8 out of 10 saying the pandemic has made them more mindful of their budget. Top strategies among respondents included shopping sales (61%), using coupons (54%), buying in bulk (41%), and using interest-free, buy now, pay later payment options (25%) as a means of better managing their personal finances.
TIPS FOR USING MARKETPLACES ACROSS PEAK REVEALED
As retailers find themselves facing tough restrictions this golden quarter, and particularly during the cyber weekend, Global eCommerce platform, Kooomo, advises that marketplaces provide a great opportunity to branch out internationally as well as shift overstock as a result of the pandemic.
Ciaran Bollard, CEO, Kooomo explains: “While most retailers will have had their plans in place for the cyber weekend for some time, some preparations are still being finalised. With a range of different restrictions, lockdowns and tiered approaches across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it’s important retailers have considered every avenue in order to ensure they maximise sales. With this in mind, marketplaces offer a great opportunity to enhance sales this cyber weekend.”
Bollard advises retailers to consider the following key aspects for taking advantage of marketplaces during this year’s cyber weekend:
What is it that a “successful” cyber weekend means to you? Is it to have increased sales? Increased conversions? Increased traffic? Increased customer retention rates? Perhaps this year your goal is to shift stock that was stuck during lockdown? In an ideal world, you would satisfy all of these goals in a single swoop, but different elements of your strategy can impact each of these targets differently, and so too can utilising marketplaces.
Different sales channels have different subscription costs and plans and, in return, they also offer different services. It is better to shortlist a few channels and then carefully go through their specific plans to choose the ones that you want to go for. For example, sellers of beauty products might want to opt for the likes of BeautyBay.com, while those in fashion could lean more towards sites like Yocabe.
Ensure the marketplace you select offers top-notch customer experience. Whether they are on your website or not, the consumer is still likely to associate the experience with your product, and a negative experience will hinder your customer retention. When you’re selling on a marketplace, you can’t tailor the entire sales experience like you can on your own eCommerce site. But there are elements you can control and with these, consistency is vital.
Marketplaces are busy places, with lots of potential customers - but also a lot of competition, so you have to ensure your products stand out if you want to be found by the right people. Focusing on your product descriptions and images is the first place to start, not only in terms of standing out, but context will improve the customer experience and increase initial trust in your products.
If you are a retailer with an eCommerce site as well as a marketplace presence, it’s vital to optimise your product selection and order fulfilment process, because synchronised stock lists are vital for minimising errors and disruptions. Nothing will annoy your consumer more than being given the ability to purchase an item, only to find it is sold out upon checking out.