Sales reports from Black Friday weekend and forecasts for today indicate a shift in consumers' holiday shopping preferences.
Black Friday weekend sales fell to $10.4 billion, down from $11.6 billion this time last year, while online sales are expected to jump more than 11.7 percent. The National Retail Federation reported that 103 people shopped online over the weekend and it expects another 121 million people to shop online today.
While the post-weekend report showed a dip in sales at physical stores, a new study predicts an even greater slip in in-store sales if retailers make mistakes with their online experiences today.
According to a nationwide survey by LoyaltyOne, mistakes made with Cyber Monday online shoppers could lead to significant in-store sales losses during this holiday gift-buying season. Results showed that 47 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers indicated they'll be reluctant to make an in-store holiday season purchase from a retailer with whom they have an unhappy online experience today. To prevent such in-store slow-downs, avoid making these mistakes:
1. Not offering free or discounted shipping. This is so commonplace that it's an obvious competitive feature to offer, however the benefits may not be as clear. Experts say free shipping can increase sales and order sizes. In fact, last year, Stitch Labs found that retailers that always offer free shipping can directly increase revenue by 10 percent.
2. Prohibiting coupons to be redeemed online. Coupons have always been important to consumers and a way for retailers to drive value, so allowing consumers to use their coupons and discounts online can be a powerful tool for conversions. When executed correctly, coupons have the potential to deliver high returns but the secret to success relies on the delivery and redemption stages.
3. Ignoring the mobile experience. The NRF reports that 20.6 million consumers said they will use their mobile devices to shop. Overall, mobile traffic on Black Friday was higher than Cyber Monday last year. Now, more than ever, having a mobile-first strategy is essential not only during the holidays but throughout the year. Mobile-first sites use intuitive mobile UI to enhance purchases, display recently viewed items as they shop, make it easy to navigate, and let customers scan through new items quickly for optimal m-commerce experiences.
4. Not offering in-store pick-up. In-store pickup is the new retail requirement. For retailers, the benefits are greater online conversion and ability to offer a broader array of merchandise because of the ease on the merchants' part of selling online but not having to deal with the logistics of warehousing and shipping. Another benefit is in-store associates can assist with products with complicated warranties.
5. Making customers hunt for ways to contact customer service. Consumers this time of year are busy. The last thing they want to do while squeezing some shopping in during their lunch breaks is to hunt down a retailer's phone number, email, Twitter, or chat when they have questions about a product or require additional information. Retailers should make their 800-numbers prominent, offer live chat functionality, and use videos when applicable to explain complicated processes or products.
What are you doing to create easy, engaging, and hassle-free Cyber Monday shopping experiences?