E-commerce Link: Holiday Countdown
Whether they start their shopping well before Thanksgiving or mere minutes before Santa climbs into his sleigh, holiday shoppers expect a broad choice of products, easy shopping, good prices and rapid, on-time delivery. These are some high hopes, but with carefully crafted marketing and merchandising, you can keep customers happy and sales high throughout your holiday and post-holiday seasons.
Gift giving is, of course, the overriding driver of holiday sales. In its October 2006 report, U.S. eCommerce: Five-Year Forecast and Data Overview, Forrester Research found that half of all online buying is for others, and this percentage increases greatly during November and December. Research from ComScore further reveals that e-commerce spending for the holidays grew 26 percent from 2005 to 2006.
There are multiple phases of online holiday shopping that are strongly determined by the calendar. Customer motivations change as the end of the season draws near. To make the most of the holiday season, you must adapt your marketing and merchandising to the tides and currents of consumer motivations.
Now through Thanksgiving: Promote early shopping by assuaging concerns.
Forrester Research notes in its March 2007 report, The Big, Ugly Obstacles Holding Back eCommerce, that 32 percent of 2006 holiday shoppers reported problems ranging from customer service to fulfillment glitches. Many shoppers hesitate to place online orders because of these and other problems. Indeed, in the same report Forrester Research notes that of the 2006 online holiday shoppers who reported problems, 37 percent failed to receive gifts in time, while 35 percent reported ordering an item only to find it was back-ordered or out of stock.
To combat these fears, build a worry-free shopping environment. Prominently display your return and privacy policies, product guarantees, security certification logos, product in-stock status and customer service contact information. Make it easy for your customers to feel confident shopping with you.