3 Tips for this Shopping Season

3 Tips for this Shopping Season


For retailers, this time of year is all about getting ready for the holiday season. And as part of these preparations, every retailer has to be laser focused on addressing the mobile tidal wave.

Mobile sales are growing faster than expected, making up 20 percent of online sales in the second quarter, and up by a third from just a year ago.  And these handheld gadgets are having an impact on both sales in stores and online. Consider this: 63 percent of adults online who ran into problems with a mobile transaction are less likely to buy from the same retailer via other channels, according to IBM’s Sixth Annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report.

With online sales expected to grow 13 percent this year, gobbling up an ever larger share of overall retail, companies need to stay on top of long-standing trends, such as personalization and customer experience, while keeping pace with a new mobile way of life that’s evolving before our eyes. Here are some recommendations and technology best practices from the report to help retailers successfully manage these trends amidst the holiday retail roller coaster.

Get serious about mobile or risk losing out

Smart retailers know that mobile and its impact is much greater than that of a standalone channel. Though mobile conversion may lag other channels, mobile plays a huge role in building loyalty.

Retailers should invest in mobile site optimization, mobile apps, and location-based marketing — all underpinned by Big Data analytics – to keep from falling behind as new shopping habits are being formed. For instance, in the past 12 months, the iPad overtook the iPhone as the mobile device driving the most site traffic. That’s the kind of change retailers can’t afford to miss.

That’s why it’s crucial to know who’s shopping on your site and what type of device they are using. Technology exists today that allows retailers to optimize their site and tailor the experience to a gadget preferred by consumers, ensuring that they have the best possible experience. The next step is to take advantage of location-based marketing to make the experience even more relevant, by means of targeting individual shoppers with information or bargains whether they are shopping in the store or walking near by.

Hold on to those fickle clicks

Consumer attention is dwindling to new lows, propelled in part by our love affair with mobile gadgets. Shoppers are leaving retail sites without buying anything, faster than ever. Bounce rates hit a new high of 39.2 percent in January, while average time on sites sank to 5:20 minutes during the second quarter, down by more than two minutes from a three-year high of 7:23 in August 2010.

Today’s shoppers expect a buying experience that’s personalized, consistent and hassle free, whether through a website, mobile device, store or call center. To keep shoppers’ attention, retailers have to understand customers individually. They must pair in-depth, cross-channel analytics about what customers buy and where, based on certain incentives with personalized recommendations, reviews, and forums, especially since average order size and sales per session are reaching new highs.

The number of items consumers bought per order hit 10.5 in March, nearly double the low of 5.4 in September 2010. To continue this upward trend, retailers need to pair real-time, personalized cross selling with pricing analytics to dish up the most appealing offers at the best margins.

Combat abandoned carts by keeping it simple

Shopping cart abandonment continues to plague retailers. During the second quarter, the shopping cart abandonment rate neared a startling 70 percent. Basic blocking and tackling is key by continuing to streamline the checkout process, minimizing clicks, and presenting taxes and shipping fees up front to improve conversion rates. Greater personalization when it comes to product recommendations and offers also goes a long way towards bolstering sales.

And while mobile devices are becoming an integral part of the shopping process for a vast number of consumers, IBM’s research demonstrates that many consumers go to the retailer’s website when they’re ready to buy. This underscores the importance of ongoing targeted communications through email, display ads and social media. Using these techniques to increase brand awareness and provide offers or teasers prompts site visits and builds loyalty.

There’s no doubt that the digital landscape is becoming ever more complicated, continuing to reshape the very definition of retail. More than ever, merchants have to jump in, experiment, and learn on the job or risk falling behind — for good.

For the original article from Forbes click here.