A strong holiday e-commerce strategy will be key for brands, especially as many are looking to re-coop lost revenue because of pandemic shutdowns.
In a typical year, holiday demand occurs between the goal posts of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but this year retailers have nudged shoppers to shop earlier and more consistently. Since promotions have been spread out more evenly throughout the fall, retailers are dealing with earlier peaks in demand.
It’s believed that one in four Americans already finished buying all their gifts in October, with many thanks to Amazon pushing up retailers’ timetables by holding their annual Prime Day event in the middle of the month.
With customers still hesitant to visit stores, let’s take a look at the key technologies in retailers’ holiday e-commerce strategies for bridging the gap between the digital and physical storefront.
How to create a stellar holiday e-commerce strategy: AR, live chat, voice assistants, and more
The top four technologies needed to improve your e-commerce strategy:
- Immersive technologies
- Virtual shopping assistants
- Commerce everywhere
- Scalable platforms
Let’s review each:
1. IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGIES:
Consumers might be doing more shopping online, but they still want an in-store experience – which is why investments in immersive technologies that simulate in-person experiences are on the rise.
Augmented reality (AR) has increased in popularity as brands work to provide consumers options to see how a product would fit into their lives. More retail sites are giving consumers the ability to scan their mobile devices over an area of their house, using AR to see how an item would look in different spaces.
Investing in better product images and 360-degree views of products also help customers view items from every angle without being in-store. We’re also seeing more product videos attached to items so customers can see it in action before deciding to buy a gift for a loved one (or a treat for themselves).
2. VIRTUAL SHOPPING ASSISTANTS:
A few years ago AI chatbots were all the rage, but we’ve seen brands move away from a purely AI experience to hybrid models that integrate live chat and AI support to guide and assist customers in their shopping decisions.
In a year of digital exhaustion when many consumers feel forced online, retailers are recognizing the importance of having live support available to assist customers as needed. Voice assistants are also becoming common shopping companions as brands invest more to voice optimize their sites.
Brands are leveraging voice assistants as a point of entry for their products and optimizing their websites or blog posts to come up as a top search result based on common phrases that are searched by voice.
3. COMMERCE EVERYWHERE:
Gartner defines this as “a marketing strategy for facilitating sales transactions across customer touch points via a set of technologies that promotes products and enables sales in physical locations and digital channels, such as the web, mobile, social and wearable devices.”
In short, just having a website does not make your brand digital. Brands must invest in having e-commerce available on every channel customers use to interact.
Smartphone shopping growth has continued at an accelerated rate this year. According to Adobe’s Holiday Predictions, consumers will do 42% of their shopping from smartphones this holiday season.
One of the key trends in the e-commerce industry is the use of progressive web apps (PWAs). Instead of launching native mobile apps, which can be expensive to develop, more brands are taking advantage of PWAs this holiday season to provide a better, faster mobile experience while still leveraging a browser.
We’ve seen more brands partnering with social sites for holiday advertising, as well as building e-commerce transactions into social sites so consumers can simultaneously scroll, shop, and connect with loved ones.
4. SCALABLE PLATFORMS:
No, it’s not a fun buzz word like AR, voice assistant, or mobile commerce, but an inability to scale based on peaks in demand has broken brands this year.
Investments in proven cloud platforms that enable brands to pivot quickly and manage peaks easily will support more brands through the holiday rush.
Brands must make investments in technologies that allow them to operate like it’s black Friday every day.
Finally, don’t forget the UX: Take care not to frustrate customers with site unavailability and performance issues – during what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, that’s especially critical.