The end of the year is like a finishing line for most working professionals around the world. Once you make that sale, close that deal or submit that report, it is time to take a well-earned vacation. However, if you are a marketer working on a holiday sales campaign, this is crunch time for you. The holiday quarter typically generates at least a quarter of your company’s annual sales, but it can also set you up for a successful year to come.
Total retail sales in Southeast Asia are expected to grow even faster in 2022 than in the previous year, challenging worldwide deceleration trends to speed past pre-pandemic figures. Along with this trend, retail ecommerce sales will also continue to rise at an extraordinary pace. eMarketer projected the region’s 2022 ecommerce sales growth at 20.6 percent, the highest in the world, totalling USD 89.67 billion.
How should businesses be framing their e-commerce strategies beyond just driving sales and promotions during the holiday season? Success may ultimately be defined by how a brand builds relationships with its customers beyond the holiday season to ensure consistent customer loyalty and engagement throughout the year.
The shopping experience: Make it fun & hassle-free
A number of surveys have found that one negative experience is enough to make shoppers abandon a brand and not return. For holiday season sales, a bad time almost seems inevitable with all the product promotions and countdown notices that can easily overwhelm customers.
While businesses may want to do everything they can to maximize cart value and encourage purchases, they need to realize that they may risk bombarding customers with too much information or stimulation. To strike a balance, they should focus on making the experience engaging and rewarding, where shoppers leave the store feeling they got a good deal on something of great quality.
At physical stores, businesses can set up the space to ensure better browsing and checking-out experience, and position store clerks in strategic places throughout to offer help when needed. Stores that are more technologically integrated can use QR codes, tablets, and even smart TVs so customers can better help themselves.
On e-commerce platforms, businesses can optimize their UI/UX design for the holiday sale. This could mean creating a special page for all items on sale, leveraging a recommendation section for easier and more tailored browsing, and deploying a chatbot to answer any questions shoppers might have.
In short, it’s important to personalize as much as you can. Instead of bombarding your shoppers with information and product recommendations, adopt a personalized approach that allows you to only present what each browser will appreciate. Natural language processing, image recognition, and other deep learning technologies can generate the most personalized and effective content and recommendations for each browser in real time.
The buying incentive: Give them something to look forward to
There are already a number of discounts and promotions available during holiday sales. So, if a shopper is still hesitating in the face of these deals, is there anything that can change their mind? The answer, as one might expect, is that it depends.
Whether or not we can convert a shopper depends on two things: whether they are actually hesitating, as opposed to window shopping, and the incentive we offer. Technology has taken a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out if someone is a hesitant shopper. In fact, artificial intelligence (AI) powered tools can now analyze over 400 digital body language attributes, such as cursor movements and page scrolling, to give each browser a hesitancy score.
If the score hits a predetermined threshold, the software will count the browser as a hesitant shopper and trigger a pop-up with an incentive for them to check out. What further sets tools like this apart is that with dynamic coupons, businesses can prepare multiple different incentives (e.g., a discount code, a free sample, and a trinket), and the solution will proceed to automatically analyze and segment shoppers to figure out which incentive is the right one for them.
A holiday sale brings out all types of shoppers. There are those who only care about getting a price discount, while others want a gift to go along with their purchase, to name a couple. An AI-powered conversion optimization tool can identify which shopper responds best to which type of incentive, allowing businesses to offer what will best encourage any particular shopper to check out.
The reason these incentives will be particularly handy this year is that, unlike during previous holiday seasons, consumers are expected to spend less money due to rising inflation. The right incentive will leave shoppers feeling they have gotten more for their dollar, and it can even keep them coming back.
Global cosmetics brands, including Clarins, have chosen to use free samples instead of discounts as shopping incentives. This strategy allows these brands to dole out gifts and get their customers to try new products, all while maintaining the prestige and luxury of the brand.
The engagement after: Continue to connect outside the store
After the holiday sale, a business that is looking to enjoy a profitable and sustainable future is already thinking about what to do next. This process should start with looking at the people who newly subscribed to mailing lists, followed the brand’s social media account, or in any other way left a way for a future connection to be made. From there, marketers can get their creative juices flowing and think about how to engage the community of existing and potential customers who are interested in your business.
With social media, engagement has become instantly available but also increasingly tricky. Instead of worrying about how to reach their audience, businesses now stress about how to keep them engaged and not annoy them in the non-stop world of social media. Our advice is to leverage opportunities for interactions and provide value through education.
No shopper wants to see a brand post ad after ad on social media. Instead, people prefer playing a game with the brand online or getting a behind-the-scenes look at how a product is made. Conversational marketing tools have made such online engagement so much more convenient for marketers, which is why quality engagement has quickly become the norm, not the exception, that customers are expecting.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. Conversational marketing tools are there to relieve you of pressure, not add to it. Conversational marketing platforms now have a wide range of pre-built interactive kits that marketers can customize to fit their needs without any coding. Want to create a digital roulette wheel your followers can play with? Or perhaps you want to set up a fun personality test for your subscribers to take? Conversational marketing tools have you covered.
The end of the year and all that comes with it is fast approaching. The holiday season can be a goldmine for e-commerce players. While the holiday season could continue to look different for retailers this year as a result of the new normal, sales will likely grow as retailers look to capitalize on omnichannel engagements – both online and in-stores. By implementing these data-driven and practical actions, marketers can help their brands beat the competition to not wrap up the year on top but to continue building quality and loyal customer relationships.
Author: Hongchia How, VP, Enterprise Sales, Asia Pacific, Appier