Boost your Holiday Sales with innovative Hybrid-Retail Marketing Ideas

Brands and retailers have to be ready to rise to the occasion in what is the latest challenge to the future of their business. This holiday sales season will be unprecedented; whether you’re looking for consumer insights, optimisation tips, or marketing strategies, we can assist businesses who’re looking to get ahead of the curve, ready to maximise their business growth.

SECTION ONE

Create a Hybrid-Retail Omnichannel Experience for your Brand

Streamlining your Omnichannel Commerce is essential to maximising sales and business growth during the Festive Season.

With shoppers flocking back to the high-street as the festive holiday sales begin, they’re increasingly engaging with brands that excel in offering a seamless online and physical shopping experience. Consumers each want to benefit from the same positive experiences, regardless of how and where they plan to purchase their item. Retailers are actively taking this into consideration and subsequently adjusting their eCommerce strategies to create enhanced shopping experiences for their customers.

We recently conducted a consumer retail survey to determine exactly what shoppers want from their online and offline shopping experiences. The results show that evolving eCommerce strategies shouldn’t solely focus on improving online services.

Create Instore Shopping Experiences like ‘Buy Now, Send Later’ and Boost Product Upsells & Cross-Sells

Plugging gaps in your seasonal marketing strategy can be tricky. Coming up with ingenious ways to drive holiday sales can range from upselling and cross-selling products, to creating new retail experiences for shoppers to interact with.

We know that consumer shopping behaviour is evolving; following the major shift to digital spending the path to purchase is growing increasingly dynamic, as customers combine an online and instore retail experience in contemporary, new ways.

Creating Instore Shopping Experiences


Now, despite the popularity of online shopping due to the unparalleled convenience factor, our statistics show that physically shopping instore is still a sought-after experience by consumers, who relish the social element it provides.

Although, an interesting statistic from the modern hybrid consumer aged 25-34 have a dislike towards carrying heavy shopping bags. This may seem almost trivial to a retailer, but this promptly identifies a gap in retail sales.

Hence, one of the reasons why online shopping is so popular is because of its convenience. Shoppers can shop on any website at any time of day or night, undisturbed, able to buy and ship items for themselves or send items directly to others (i.e. Christmas & Birthday Presents).

Although, an interesting statistic from the modern hybrid consumer aged 25-34 have a dislike towards carrying heavy shopping bags. This may seem almost trivial to a retailer, but this promptly identifies a gap in retail sales.

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Hybrid model of online and offline shopping

Hence, one of the reasons why online shopping is so popular is because of its convenience. Shoppers can shop on any website at any time of day or night, undisturbed, able to buy and ship items for themselves or send items directly to others (i.e. Christmas & Birthday Presents).

Online retail giant Amazon quickly implemented an ability to save multiple shipping addresses into their systems, providing a frictionless checkout to improve journey along the sales funnel. This is something retailers should consider incorporating into physical retail shops.

When purchasing premium items like furniture, or a car or kitchen appliance, buyers are likely to order the item instore, to be delivered at a later date. But could this be incorporated into smaller, high-street retail sectors?

Our research has shown us that shoppers would welcome the opportunity to physically shop in a store and see/touch an item before making an order for delivery at a later date. Additionally, over 53% of our respondents told us that they would be much more likely or somewhat more likely to purchase if they could buy in-store and deliver to a different address. For those shopping at busy holiday periods, this could potentially enhance the overall shopping experience for customers, improve conversion rates, and simultaneously increasing sales and profits.

What’s more, when customers are physically purchasing instore, retailers will have greater scope to benefit from additional upsells, cross-sells or any spontaneous purchases.


Social Proofing: Building brand trust to gain new customers confidence

Social Proofing is one of the latest big trends in eCommerce, such is the influence of social media, especially with certain demographics.

Our research confirms this potential; possibly an untapped staple of retail strategies, and one that may give retailers the edge over competitors during the holiday sales. Consumers want to utilise ways that they can share their shopping habits with others. Our feedback suggested “the overall shopping experience,” “social interaction with friends/family,” and “recommendations from staff or other customers” are missing from online retail outlets’ platforms.

Social Proofing: Building brand trust to gain new customers confidence


If your social media accounts are brimming with positive reviews and rich customer engagements, then promote them! Proof of positive social media interactions between fellow customers will help build trust between your brand and new shoppers visiting your store for the first time.

Now the festive sales season is upon us, it’s evident that if retailers listen carefully to what consumers are asking for, they could significantly boost their sales, increase profit margins, and plug the gaps within their sales & marketing strategies.


SECTION TWO

How to mitigate your holiday Stock & Supply-Chain risk

A high-stakes Christmas looms for retailers as surging toy demands meet supply-chain hitches; consumers are now the ones paying the price (literally) for higher shipping costs driven by global supply chain issues that could last until 2022 and delay orders indefinitely.

This means retailers must invest in infrastructure and adapt their marketing approach.

Implement a Proactive Risk Management Approach with Stock & Supply Concerns

Previously it might’ve been simple to offer free shipping to entice customers and subsequently drive sales earlier in the season, but now there’s less clarity with regards to effectively communicating cut-off dates.

Shipping issues reared their ugly head in late 2020, leading to global supply-chain issues that led many retailers severely under-stocked or in some instances completely out-of-stock, from car parts to PlayStation 5’s.

A year later and many of those issues have yet to be resolved, and along with the addition of new hazards to mitigate, retailers should be proactively preparing to avoid another year of seasonal shipping headaches.


What can businesses do to avoid eCommerce supply chain issues?

Adapt. Unfortunately for their consumers, brands and retailers are increasing their prices and discounting less to counteract increased costs in the supply chain.

Discount rates are dropping too; Salesforce’s Q2 Shopping Index indicates the average selling price in the retail sector rose 11 percent year-over-year in the same time period.

Salesforce also found that average discount rates dropped to 17% in Q2 2021 compared to 20% in Q2 2020 as limited inventory and sustained consumer demand limited markdowns.

Some retailers like online styling service Stitch Fix are diversifying their mix of parcel carriers, to counteract the issues the company faced last year with shipping delays and unexpected costs from higher carrier rates and surcharges.


How to mitigate shipping concerns for customers

Our retail survey results show that multiple aspects of online shopping that shoppers least enjoy are the possibilities of:

  • Lengthy shipping times
  • Expensive multiple delivery charges
  • Complicated checkout processes

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All 3 of the above consumer grievances can lead to a high cart abandonment rate, something that will frequently deter shoppers from your store when they are shopping for holiday gifts. Retailers must concisely display to customers exactly how long will it take for an item to arrive throughout the checkout process.

It’s also important to ensure that there are no hidden fees in a user’s checkout journey. Often we see high cart abandonment rates for retailers who only display shipping costs, taxes, handling and any other potential costs after items have been added to their cart or once they reach their final checkout destination.


SECTION THREE

Create a Virtual Christmas Experience with Digital Innovation

Finding new ways for brands to engage their consumers is crucial to boost sales and ultimately drive business growth. During the festive retail season where competition is rife, any marketing campaign must stand out from the crowd, especially in an over-saturated digital market.

Virtually deck the halls with Augmented Reality!

Implementing Augmented Reality into your brand experience can create an incredibly engaging medium. The scope for creating unique and entertaining campaign is only limited by imagination.

The technology has been long-considered an overwhelming means of creating an outlet where customers engage with your brand, be it socially, commercially or from a sales perspective, but present-day technology has caught up, and is infinitely more attainable.

Augmented Reality into your brand


What AR can do for your eCommerce Christmas Campaign:

  • Create Strong Engagement

  • Drive footfall to physical retail stores

  • Adds value to products

  • Encourages repeat purchases and subscription (trials and permanent)

Retailers can also use AR to create an online Christmas Market, and the great thing about this concept is that it doesn’t have to be limited to a purely online medium! Use AR to encourage customers to explore a specific location, i.e. your store, or maybe a shopping centre or holiday event that consumers will attend over the festive period.

Guide consumers around a space with a treasure hunt or quest, offer exclusive deals and/or prizes that can be unlocked through their AR experience. It’s a highly engaging and fun way to drive footfall to your business, and will create lasting memories of your brand for consumers.

Alternatively, create festive selfie-filters, a Christmas Tree decoration or placement app (see IKEA’s #Placeatreeonit AR campaign) or make your products come to life in the same vein as Starbucks’ coffee cups.


Bring friends & family together this Christmas with Wishlists

Wishlists drive customer engagement. They are important to many people for a variety of reasons; but when it comes to retail they’re a handy feature for companies as it can provide valuable insight into consumer buying behaviours. But, importantly, wishlists are valuable to their customers too.

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Bring friends & family together this Christmas with Wishlists

Wishlists can educate customers and build trust. Most eCommerce online stores require shoppers to create an account in order to save a wishlist. Through this process, customers can receive more information about the products on their wishlist and even provide an opportunity to upsell and/or cross-sell with other products. This clarity and education will help customers justify purchases and engage them with your store/brand to build that essential trust.

Wishlists are for sharing, especially for Christmas! On special occasions they provide an easy way to let people know what they want from them. As with see with retail giant Amazon, lists can be shared with loved ones, family and close friends, and as people buy items they can cross them off the Christmas gift list to avoid any potential duplication.

Alternatively, wishlists can also help retailers manage out of stock items. Losing customers due to out-of-stock products is the scourge of eCommerce. A wishlist feature can be an effective tool to minimise sale losses. Provide customers an option to save the out-of-stock product to their wishlist and subsequently alert them via email or in-app notifications once it is back in supply.

This ties in with these age groups wanting to benefit from the social side of shopping. It emphasises the importance of understanding your consumer audience and tailoring your website to meet their specific needs. If your target shoppers are younger generations, these are compelling elements to integrate into the website.

All of the aforementioned justifiable cases for customers to make wishlists with your eCommerce store act as motives for their friends to purchase from your store too. Word of mouth through these personalised features can gain businesses more customers in the long run.


Unlock the hidden potential of QR Codes to increase customer engagement

We asked our respondents if QR codes on printed product labels could help shoppers keep track of items that they like when shopping in-store. Over four in ten people said that having a visible QR code would make them much more likely or somewhat more likely to make a purchase.

Although, it’s important to consider that QR codes are more than just helping a customer keep track of an item that they’ve spotted and want to remember. They can also be integrated into your website to enhance the purchasing journey.

For example, QR codes could help a customer find out if the product is available in any other sizes or colours. It can sync with your ordering systems, enabling customers to find a relevant item even if it’s out of stock in-store.

QR Codes


A QR code could provide customers with styling suggestions or other product usage options. It could also link to virtual events hosted on your website, to influencers featuring said products, or to other third parties, such as charitable relationships For a relatively low-cost improvement, this could be an efficient way of improving productivity.

As you would expect, younger people are far more attuned with the potential impact of using digital technology in-store when broken down generationally. When questioned, over six in ten shoppers (62.74%) between the ages of 16-24 would welcome the widespread use of QR codes in shops, along with 56.95% of those aged 25-34.


SECTION FOUR

Website Speed & Security over the Holidays is paramount

Having a slow-loading website will not only cost you significant sums in lost sales, but it can also become an expensive headache to solve. You’re likely to have far more expenditure on acquisition strategies to attract new customers, and will reduce the overall return on investment via any broader marketing techniques. Making small changes can significantly improve your website’s performance.

As eCommerce stores enter a thriving sales period, cyber-criminal activity also rises. Unfortunately for online retailers, more and more amateur fraudsters are taking this opportunity to enlist into specific “carding” sites that sell consumers’ details.

Your website speed needs to dash through the snow

Your website speed will need to purr during the holidays, otherwise stores will miss out on their slice of holiday revenue.

In 2021, shoppers are choosing online retailers due to the convenience factor. They want to find what they are looking for, and they want to see it immediately. The quicker a website loads (and the faster they locate their desired item), the more likely shoppers will navigate through the sales funnel and complete a transaction.

Recent research from Google suggests that:

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77% of smartphone shoppers are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly.”

Slow website speeds result in high abandonment rates, so if you’re developing or optimising your store, pay close attention to your desktop and mobile loading speeds. We already know that search-engine algorithms are increasingly taking a “mobile-first” approach to websites. We also know that most online sales are now coming from mobile devices. Online shopping is increasingly prevalent over the holidays, it’s essential to make sure that you are doing everything you can to make it easier for your shoppers to complete their transactions. This could be via rigorous UX testing, effective conversion rate strategies, or creating a frictionless checkout journey.


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Keeping Santas Sack Safe

Keep Santa’s Sack Safe

Unfortunately for retailers, there is always a risk when it comes to experiencing an influx of holiday shoppers, and that’s the threat of cyberattacks.

When it comes to planning your holiday sales strategy, you should also be anticipating website security during this busy period. Protect your digital storefront, mobile apps, and APIs with Bot & Code defenders to safeguard online revenue and revenue and simultaneously reduce the risk of fraud during the holiday shopping season.

Gift card fraud, a subset of carding attacks, is especially common during the holiday season. Gift cards are easy targets because they don’t have the same level of protection as credit cards, nor are they associated with cardholder names, bank account numbers, or billing addresses.

Scalping attacks made up more than 20% of total shopping cart requests for products on eight separate days between March 2020 and January 2021 with a peak of 46.9%.

Scalping is the shameless process of deploying bots to buy sought-after products — such as limited-edition trainers, event tickets, designer clothing or the latest hot-toys and game consoles (e.g. the ever-limited PlayStation 5 stock) — and then selling them at ridiculously inflated prices on third-party sites or the infamous black market.

Legacy tools like CAPTCHA and multifactor authentications are still commonplace, although they’re widely known to be a double-edged sword.

Although puzzles like CAPTCHA effectively prevent payments attempts from being sent via an automated script, they are proven to drive cart abandonment, harm conversion rates and negatively affect your bottom line.

Instead, try and integrate a system that leverage a combination of behavioural analytics and AI learning that will accurately detect bots and stop automated fraud without negatively impacting customer experience.

See our handy guide for more on how to protect your eCommerce store from hackers and the growing threat of carding attacks here.


Get In touch

Get in touch with us if you’re looking for a new digital platform or would like to benefit from consultation advice to establish whether your retail business offers what your customers are looking for, not just over the Festive Holidays, but into the shape of things to come from eCommerce in 2022. (Editor’s Note: edit YOY)

Our detailed comprehensive understanding of different shopper demographics enables us to provide independent advice to align your business priorities with your customers’ wants and needs from your brand.

To find out how we can grow your business or for more information about our consumer research, please email hello@sherwen.com or phone 020 4566 9773.