After weathering more tough economic conditions and low consumer confidence levels throughout the first half of 2012, retailers are gearing up to maximize sales this holiday shopping season. To capture a larger share of the customer’s wallet amidst ongoing uncertainty and fierce competition, retailers are seeking out novel ways to stand out in the market this year, with many looking to capitalize on the growing trend towards mobile and internet commerce.
However, while m-commerce and e-commerce are flourishing, many brands are still unclear about how to utilize social media effectively. Thus, while fast-evolving digital platforms (internet, mobile and social media) offer retailers an abundance of opportunities to connect with customers, retailers must be strategic in their efforts to effectively leverage these platforms to their full potential.
According to a global study by Facebook social commerce platform Payvment, conducted in September and October of 2012, out of all available digital and social channels, retailers are most likely to expand their use of social media throughout the holidays. Forty-two percent of respondents are looking to launch Facebook advertisements, making it the most sought-after social media platform, followed by Twitter and company websites1
With the widespread adoption of social media across the globe, engaging social media promotions that boost the bottom-line should be at the top of retailers’ wishlists. ‘Social shoppers’, who use social media platforms to inform their purchase decisions, are increasingly consulting their connections on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, for product recommendations, gift ideas and brand endorsements.
According to the study by Payvment, 48 percent of the retailers are planning to introduce Facebook promotions this holiday season, including free shipping (34 percent), discounts of up to 10 percent (23 percent) and discounts of up to 20 percent (18 percent)2.
Facebook’s recent entry into the social commerce space with the launch of its new ‘Gifts’ feature, which enables people to send gifts through Facebook, is expected to further revolutionize the use of social media by retailers. Facebook serves a unique niche for products under $50 – which can add up quite significantly given its 1 billion users – making them a potential competitor to Amazon’s lower price-point offerings.
To get the most out of the holiday season, retailers are focusing on:
- Selling a hassle-free holiday shopping experience
- Enticing and engaging social shoppers
- Dialing up smartphone sales.
Consumers are also becoming increasingly accustomed to the idea of shopping online. For instance, according to NRF estimates, about 51.8 percent of American consumers are expected to shop online, compared to 46.7 percent last year3.
For time-strapped shoppers, the convenience of having goods delivered at home is the key motivator in placing online orders. To help convert cautious online browsers into active shoppers, retailers are busy optimizing online environments to better showcase their products and increase brand interest. Faced with tough competition from the seasoned online retailers such as Amazon and eBay, retailers with a less-established online presence are vying for shoppers’ attention by offering benefits such as free shipping, same-day delivery and price-matching.
While scale often dictates delivery speed, ensuring order accuracy and enabling easy returns are critical to overall customer satisfaction. Along with offering effective delivery options, retailers are advised to have an efficient reverse logistics system in place to handle issues related to incorrect or delayed deliveries.
While social media is poised to help retailers increase revenues this holiday season, smartphones are set to offer a new world of capabilities to retailers. Along with offering effective delivery options, retailers are advised to have an efficient reverse logistics system in place to handle issues related to incorrect or delayed deliveries. Mobile apps have become crucial in making holiday shopping easier, helping customers find the best deals more easily, assisting them in planning their shopping trips and saving them from the hassle of standing in long checkout queues.
According to NRF 2012 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, 52.9 percent of smartphone owners plan to use their devices to research and purchase holiday gifts, décor, food items, and more 32.9 percent are likely to research products and compare prices. 24.9 percent are expected to use their phone to look up retailer information, such as store location, hours and directions. 17.6 percent are likely to use apps to research or purchase products, and 15.0 percent plan to purchase items.
QR codes are one of the key drivers of 2012 holiday marketing efforts adopted by retailers such as Target and Kraft to facilitate mobile purchases, converting the challenge of increased showrooming into opportunity by helping retailers educate and influence customers in-store and online.
1Small Businesses On Facebook Bullish On 2012 Holiday Shopping Season, AllFacebook, 26 October, 2012
2Small Businesses On Facebook Bullish On 2012 Holiday Shopping Season, AllFacebook, 26 October 2012
3The holiday season starts now, Internet Retailer, 23 October 2012