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September 12, 2017 | Rebecca Berry

5 steps retailers can take now to compete this holiday shopping season 

Holiday Shopping

For retailers, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to beat competitors this coming holiday shopping season – including looming competition from Amazon and its attractive free shipping options. Not every business can compete with that offer, but we’re here to tell you that it’s not always about shipping costs. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to up your game before winter arrives, especially since 58% of consumers say more than half their holiday shopping plans include retailers that aren’t Amazon.

What else can retailers do to compete with Amazon this holiday season? ForeSee’s FXI: Retail report gives us a lot of insight into consumer behavior, an important source of information when understanding how to beat your rivals, including this chart.

With a little bit of effort in the months ahead, retailers can accomplish a lot if they consider these key things:

Holiday Shopping: Fulfillment and tracking matter

According to Foresee’s FXI data, 49% of customers prefer to research and buy online, and have their product delivered. And 36% of customers who choose to purchase online do so because the product can be delivered directly to them or a recipient. Essentially, this means fulfillment and tracking are two big components that matter to shoppers – and also areas where Amazon is considered the gold standard.

Since there’s still plenty of time before the decorations go up, other retailers should work hard to improve fulfillment and tracking features on their sites to ensure the experience is as seamless and simple as possible for customers. So for example, shipping to other recipients is typically not a one-time thing. If customers have gift recipients all over the country, they will likely want to ship to these people for other holidays. Having logged-in users enter a recipient’s information once and your system remember it so that they can conveniently access it again in the future is something Amazon does, but anyone else can replicate.

Less effort for the customer means more revenue

Making the shopping process easier for your customers is going to put you in line with Amazon in terms of convenience. This means a start to finish experience that is swift, painless, and meets your customer’s needs. Seamless navigation, cart, and checkout experiences are going to lead to happier customers and can result in revenue increases, as you can see from the chart above.

Every inch closer to a low-effort experience counts in getting customers to make a purchase before they go elsewhere.

Sidestepping free shipping with great in-store pickup features

When done correctly, BOPIS (aka “Buy Online, Pickup In Store”) blends the ease of shopping anywhere with the instant gratification of making an in-store purchase. Having a good BOPIS option is important in making sure customers choose your business over others, according to our research. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most important, customers had a mean score of 6.6 when it came to influencing where they decided to shop. Last year, 62% of shoppers used a BOPIS feature in product categories that one would normally associate with Amazon.

BOPIS can also be a creative way to offset shipping costs without taking a hit on free shipping if products are shipped to stores via standard weekly freight deliveries, or pulled directly from stock on the sales floor. This is even more beneficial for retailers selling big ticket items (furniture, home goods, etc.) that may cost a significant amount to ship.

Build higher customer loyalty

Retailers are constantly talking about how to get new shoppers, but the reality is that new customer acquisition is expensive and challenging. It often pays to look closer at current customers to maximize their loyalty with your brand. Last year only 30% of customers said they had an emotional connection with the retailer they shopped with. Those who did have an emotional connection were 29% more likely to purchase from the same retailer in another channel like a mobile app, website, or in-store. That emotional connection is worth a lot when considering the lifetime value of a customer.

Nailing down areas of the shopping experience that may drive customers elsewhere is important to creating a lasting sense of loyalty.

Improving customer experience is your best bet for improving holiday sales

On the whole, staying competitive in an Amazon-dominated market during the winter holiday season is never easy. However, there are a variety of actions you can take now that don’t involve cutting into your bottom line with free shipping.

Categories: Insights,Retail

About the Author

Rebecca is a Senior Customer Experience Analyst at ForeSee. She has a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry, and is a strong research professional skilled in analytics, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), market research, and management.

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