Everyone knows the holiday season is a critical sales period for retailers; last year, the retail industry saw a whopping 17.8% increase in online holiday sales year over year, and sales are expected to reach $110 billion in 2017 (emarketer.com). But there’s an emerging trend that all digital marketers need to be prepared to tackle: the new extended holiday shopping season. According to NRF, in 2016 41.4% reported beginning their holiday shopping in early November, while a shocking 40.6% said they began as early as September through October. This means that for a large chunk of your audience, their holiday ecommerce shopping season lasts for four months. To keep up with their customers and this new extended season, retail marketers need to reassess their holiday content strategy.
Immersive Holiday Ecommerce Experiences
The best way to break through the holiday shopping noise is through immersive digital experiences. Successful digital experiences are rich, highly relevant, engaging, and most importantly, instantly shoppable. With instant shoppability, there are no commerce “dead ends” or customer journeys that end at a frustrating product grid. Customers have a seamless shopping experience from start to finish with as few clicks as possible. They can take the form of buying guides, quizzes, lookbooks, and more. At minimum, immersive experiences will make a positive brand impression during the holidays; at maximum, they create lifelong customers. When creating these campaigns for the new extended holiday shopping season, there are a few things to keep in mind…
Holidays are stressful
Ebay reports that 88% of people find holiday shopping to be extremely intense. For anyone who’s ever had to do last minute shopping for that one in-law they forgot about, this statistic isn’t surprising. But it’s a good reminder that holiday experiences need to go above and beyond. There is nothing more frustrating than scrolling through an endless product grid, trying desperately to find one particular gift. The product discovery experience should be both fun and easy, and take some of the chaos out of the holiday shopping process.
Customers aren’t shopping for themselves
When planning and designing shoppable content, it’s usually assumed that the customer is shopping according to their own preferences. With holiday content, this goes out the window – they are shopping for their children, husband, wife, friend, mother-in-law, office yankee swap, etc. Which means that any guidance and reassurance brands can give can make or break the customer experience. Instead of giving shoppers an intimidating product grid full of confusing options, holiday experiences should narrow down the products according to gift type or persona. A buying guide is the fool-proof way to do so. A great example is Murad's holiday skincare gift guide, from 2016. The experience took the guesswork out of gift buying by breaking the shopping process down my persona. With this experience, shoppers could feel confident in their purchase.
Brands face multiple deadlines
We know that the holiday shopping season has been extended, but what we don’t know is when it definitively ends. Consumers have multiple shopping deadlines; Christmas, Hanukkah, Friendsgiving, office yankee swaps, etc. The best way to get a handle on your audience’s deadlines is to examine your brand’s unique analytics – understand the smaller trends in your holiday sales data, and you can plan your campaigns accordingly.