Guest Blog By Michael Bevan
Image Source: Wikipedia
The holiday shopping season is upon us. Black Friday is creeping into Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday seems to last through New Years Day. And during this time, consumer behavior becomes less predictable. How does their gift buying change during this frantic time of year? Retailers need to pay attention to these shifts in behavior to ensure they are engaging with customers in a meaningful way.
At Placeable, we decided to dig into this by asking 1,000 holiday shoppers what they think. We discovered that consumers will stray from their usual shopping routines this holiday season. Specifically, nearly 60 percent of consumers will shop at a national retailer that they don’t normally visit. For example, it might be a husband buying yoga pants for his wife, a grandparent looking for toys for their grandkids, or someone else trying to find a gift that the outdoorsman in the family will love. It might be a shopper who will visit an unfamiliar big box store to find the best prices and selection on gifts for a large family.
Regardless of the reason, retailers will see new faces in their stores this holiday season. And the potential impact on their sales is huge: the National Retail Federation expects 140 million shoppers to shop in-store and online this Black Friday weekend alone. Just consider how many of those shoppers are visiting a store for the first time.
Our research also found that affluent shoppers are even more likely to shop at a chain store that they don’t normally buy from. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of shoppers who earn more than $100,000 will venture away from their usual stores.
So now that we know consumers are checking out unfamiliar national retailers this holiday season, a big question remains—how are they finding these new stores? Turns out that online isn’t just about Cyber Monday deals anymore. In fact, six out of 10 shoppers will consult a brand’s website before going to a physical store to make a purchase–and it’s not just to check pricing and product availability. Nearly 90 percent of the shoppers are looking for location-specific content. This content starts with address and phone number, but frequently consumers are also looking for holiday store hours, special promotions, coupons, parking directions and more. These consumers trust that this content is reliable, so retailers with multiple locations need to have the tools in place to ensure that the information is accurate, relevant and updated.
Another trend for retailers to pay attention to is how holiday shoppers use mobile phones to find stores. We found that more than 40 percent of holiday shoppers will use a smartphone to navigate to a store. This is an important reminder that retailers need to consider aspects of mobile and online channels that go beyond shopping and ordering–and carefully examine how they integrate with the in-store channel to create the best experience. For example, retailers simply must have local web pages with optimized locators for mobile devices. By anticipating how on-the-go shoppers will find unfamiliar stores, brands will establish a positive first impression before a customer even steps foot in the door.
Failing to enhance your online presence to attract more than just online shoppers is likely to cost retailers big sales this year. One in ten shoppers will give up completely on a gift search due to erroneous location information–and no retailer can afford to forgo that much revenue due to something so simple and avoidable.
To be successful, retailers need to adopt digital marketing tactics that ensure new and once-a-year shoppers can not only find the perfect gift, but that they leave with a positive impression and remain happy customers beyond the holiday season.