Updated: Nov 29, 2021
You’ve made big business changes to prepare for 2020 holiday shopping. Here are six smaller-scale tips to create the shopping experience buyers desire: one that’s quick, efficient and safe.
COVID-19 safety precautions in place: check. Holiday stock secured: check. Amping up your capacity for online shopping: check.
Now it’s time to take a breath and focus on additional details customers will appreciate, whether in-person, at curbside, or online.
Because, according to a recent survey by Deloitte, “while they may not be planning to spend quite as much as in the heady, pre-pandemic days of 2019, Canadians are still shopping.”
But the expectations and apprehensions of today’s customers need to be part of your new business normal. Here are 6 tweaks you should consider:
1. Respond to their fears
The Deloitte study finds consumers “don’t see holiday shopping as a fun experience to cherish any more — it’s just a task to be done as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible.”
And a survey by Accenture shows 61% of those surveyed planned “to minimize in-store shopping to reduce health risks to essential workers … The same number said they are more likely to make purchases at companies that show they’re committed to health, safety and hygiene.”
In addition to making sure customers will see employees correctly wearing appropriate PPE, consistently maintaining physical distancing, and scrupulously disinfecting high-touch surfaces, take some time to refresh and update messaging about your services and how you are keeping customers, employees and the community safe:
If this information is still in a prominent place on your website, keep it there.
If it’s not, put it there. Include it in emails, across your social media feeds, and through your other communications channels.
Provide short, useful content, like including a store map in your mobile app so shoppers can plan the exact route to the items they want.
Make sure the FAQs on your website truly answer frequently-asked questions so that customers won’t have to call for basic information.
Don’t worry about over-communicating, and don’t assume customers already know what you have in place. According to Salesforce Consumer Research: “85% of consumers find operational update messages appropriate during the pandemic. [They] value messages such as store closures, order status, pickup instructions to ensure safety and convenience over the holiday season.”
2. Give ‘em exclusive access
Online shopping is booming this year, but a blog post by Audwin Cash, senior VP of Enterprise Solutions with Atrius, Acuity Brands, outlines ways to combine the safety of e-commerce with ways to “elevate the shopper experience.”
He suggests “introducing mobile-exclusive strategies that build loyalty and create immersive customer-centric experiences. An intriguing ‘new for 2020’ service is one that allows loyal customers to reserve a store entry time, personalizing their holiday shopping journey before they leave home.”
Sometimes referred to as mcommerce, Cash says the mobile commerce trend can “make the mobile shopping experience unique” with steps such as:
Using “historical in-store purchase information to notify customers when a favourite item is available at their nearest store."
Tempting customers "to shop in-app first by pushing exclusive discounts and in-store promotions."
3. Entice them to take advantage
The Salesforce survey also suggests your communications strike “a delicate balance between brand (empathy and emotion) and discounts (demand and margin).” It found customers are interested in taking advantage of:
price discounts (77% of respondents)
free shipping (67% of respondents)
free gifts (45% of respondents)
loyalty points (54% of respondents)
One way to create and offer discounts and perks that boost your business is with BOOM’s Rewards and Loyalty Platform. We connect brands from many different sectors — consumer goods, electronics, home decor, lifestyle, auto dealers and automotive services, hospitality and entertainment — with a highly valuable and engaged audience.
Because it’s targeted, measurable and flexible, working with BOOM might just be a holiday present you can give your business.
4. Use visual cues
The Deloitte survey suggests you make sure customers can “come in, find what they need, make their purchases, and get out quickly and easily.”
In a Faire blog interview, visual display expert Gretchen Kroll suggests you start outside. “It really doesn’t matter what kind of business you have. I can’t tell you how many parking lots I’ve had to drive in to see if a store is open.”
She says outdoor displays indicate your business is “thriving and … alive.”
Once inside the store, Kroll says customers need clear sightlines, easy-to-read signage that reduces the need to touch items, and a logical traffic flow to avoid congestion. The goal is to let buyers quickly digest information: “If we get into the science of how we see, we were designed to see the tiger in the trees. We scan for things that stick out that could possibly either endanger us or bring us safety. So when we think about it that way, how do we create things to stand out?”
5. Brush up your pickup
Last April, stores experienced a 208% increase in the number of orders placed at home, then picked up in a store (BOPIS). That contactless delivery service has since evolved into BOPAC — buy online and pickup at curbside.
But many shoppers say their curbside pickup experience is “rocky or poor.”
Here’s what buyers told Shopify when asked what would improve the experience:
29% wanted text message updates to let them know when their orders are ready for pickup.
29% said a greater number of pickup times would improve their experience.
28% preferred the time between order and pickup to be faster.
23% said their experience would be improved with better signage at the pickup location and/or accurate and detailed pickup instructions on the business website.
6. The human touch
The best hack of all is the human connection you make with your customers, especially when they are in your store or using curbside pickup.
Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review for research-backed ways to build rapport while wearing a mask.
Other options for making a connection is by offering gift wrapping or handwritten notes.
It’s been a long and difficult year, and it’s been a year when the little details matter.
Fine-tuning the ways you deliver on customer service will be an essential strategy this holiday season — and it might just be essential in positioning your business for 2021.
At BOOM, we’re here to help you maintain connections with loyal customers, to reward their patronage, and to expand your reach to new audiences. Find out more today!