Christmas is just around the corner, which means the shopping season isn’t over yet! And this means there’s still time to acquire new customers and retain new and current ones.
Even though the biggest sales weekend of the year is over – yes we’re talking about Black Friday, there’s still an opportunity to retain your holiday customers.
Especially if you’re an e-commerce store or one that offers an omnichannel experience.
Christmas 2022 marks the second holiday season during the pandemic. That said, there have been massive developments since that same time in 2020.
We’re thinking vaccinations (including booster shots), people visiting shopping malls, and many shoppers going back to in-store purchases.
And despite the people going back to offline stores, e-commerce isn’t dying out any time soon. The habits customers acquired during the pandemic are here to stay.
But is your online store ready for Christmas shoppers?
We’ve got some interesting holiday shopping stats and last-minute tips to help you prepare your online store for Christmas.
Christmas shopping trends, stats, and forecasts
Last year, the holiday season was hit hard by the pandemic. Countries endured lockdowns, while COVID-19 raged untethered. And in-store shopping was hit the most.
But 2021 and 2022 have seen significant change. To give you an idea of 2020, here’s what a pre-holiday survey by Intelligence Code had found:
- Nearly 83% of shoppers said they were likely to buy online or use curbside pickup.
- Customers said “low prices were the number one factor” they were focusing on in 2020
- 3 out of 4 holiday shoppers were “likely to stray from their favorite brand for better-priced alternatives.”
Now let’s see what research firms have forecast for the 2022 holiday shopping season:
McKinsey & Company expects “strong demand over the 2021 holidays.”
Similarly, KPMG expects US retailers to record 7% higher sales in 2021 than last year.
McKinsey & Company cites customers “embracing the omnichannel experience” and being “worried about stock running out” to “[seize] opportunities to buy sooner rather than later” as reasons for its forecast.
Based on its survey of over 2,000 US consumers, McKinsey reports that customers “are more willing than ever to switch brands” especially if items they are looking for aren’t available.
Retailers that want to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the decline in brand and retailer loyalty will need to meet consumers’ demands despite their supply and labor challenges.” – McKinsey & Company
Christmas shopping in the UK
And because most research is focused around the US, here’s a quick glimpse at Christmas 2022 shopping forecasts in the UK.
In a Christmas spending survey of 1,000 UK consumers, cross-channel marketing platform Iterable found that only 14% had in-store-shopping plans.
Meanwhile, 86% said they were planning to buy at least half of their Christmas gifts online this year, an indication that e-commerce habits were still going strong.
“The pandemic has created a new status quo in retail, with customers far more willing to browse online than on the high street. Brands need to adjust to this new reality, building memorable, consistent experiences for customers wherever they choose to shop,” advises Elle Nadal, Iterable’s EMEA director of marketing.
How to prepare your store for Christmas
Now that you’ve seen how retailers fared during the holiday season last year, let’s make sure your online store is ready for shoppers in the last few days of December.
Here are 8 tips to help you make the most out of the holiday shopping experience and retain holiday shoppers.
1. Start with your customer service team
We can’t stress the importance of customer service during the holidays.
Both you, as a store owner or manager, and your customers are aware that many things can go wrong during the holidays.
So instead of keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best, make sure your holiday customer service team is available during this major shopping season.
Is it possible to have one or two of your team working over the weekend and in the days leading up to Christmas? If yes, then definitely go for that.
Your customers will thank you for taking the time to ensure that their orders are delivered and for following up with them.
2. Make it easy to return goods
Online shopping is great. But one of its biggest downsides is customer returns. Whether it’s because the product is the wrong color, the wrong size, or something else, customers are likely to return products they bought online.
Making it easy for customers to return their goods and get their refund is one of the top ways that make customers loyal.
The whole returns process is generally a tiresome one for both the store and the consumer. However, a good returns experience means this customer will come back at a later time because they know they can count on you.
3. Be honest about delivery schedules
Most consumers are aware that the holidays come with a shopping rush and accordingly delays in delivery.
But those same consumers will get grumpy if you promise to deliver on a certain day and fail to do so.
After all, many are buying gifts for friends and family and delayed gifts means a frown and lots of embarrassment…
Be sure to avoid making customer remember THAT experience next time they think of buying from you. Because chances are if embarrassment is what they get for Christmas, it’s unlikely they’ll be coming back any time soon!
So make sure you give your delivery guys enough time to deliver customer orders and holiday cheer. At the same time, keep customers informed about the delivery status of their orders.
4. Don’t delay your Christmas marketing
Customers begin scouring the internet and walk-in stores for deals long before the Christmas holiday.
Make sure you’re marketing your store and brand before December 25th.
Moreover, many customers have made purchases during Black Friday, so you want to attract those who are still on the lookout for deals, special gifts, or last-minute purchases.
If you’ve restocked products that ran out during your Black Friday sale, be sure to mention them in your ads and marketing.
“2020 taught us that people can adapt to any situation, and technology helps them do it exponentially faster. In the face of unforeseen challenges, consumers adopted new behaviors in a matter of months that moved the entire retail industry into a new era.” – The 2021 Holiday Commerce Report by Criteo
5. Give your Christmas customers a reason to come back
The Christmas holidays are about family and connectedness. Put a smile on your customers’ faces with a simple Merry Christmas Card with their orders.
Better yet, use the holiday shopping season for customer acquisition and retention by offering customers a 10% discount on their next purchase.
You can do so via your website or by sending a printed Christmas card with a promo code.
You can also put a deadline for when they can use the promo code like the end of January or February.
6. Set KPIs
Any marketing, acquisition, or retention activity should come with key performance indicators (KPIs). The holiday season is no exception.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have relevant KPIs so you can measure the impact of your marketing, sales, and retention efforts.
For example, if you’re looking to attract new customers during the holidays, determine how you’ll track customer acquisition through your marketing activities.
Acquisition isn’t just website traffic, it’s about how much you’ve spent and how many people completed the sale.
7. Learn from this year’s mistakes
A bit of a continuation of the KPIs point, if Christmas 2022 is your first holiday season as a new store or if it’s your first time measuring KPIs, be sure to take notes.
Write down what’s worked for you, what didn’t, and what could be done better next year.
Every year is a learning experience for e-commerce businesses.
8. Use a loyalty program
It’s never too late to install a loyalty program in your online store. Whether you have an e-commerce website, or if you’re using WooCommerce or Shopify, you can easily add a customer loyalty program.
A loyalty program can attract customers and more importantly help you retain them.
You can also use it to track various KPIs like the number of new members, see who your most active customers are, who your high-spenders are and more.
With a customer loyalty and rewards app, you can reward customers with loyalty points for purchases and other actions like providing you with their email and personal information.
Consider using Gameball’s free trial to get a taste of customer loyalty and analytics. And if you do try Gameball, be sure to try out our Challenges and Badges to increase customer engagement.
9. Use referral codes
Last but certainly not least is to use referrals.
For example, you can easily track customer referrals by using a referral app or in Gameball’s case an all-in-one loyalty, referral, and customer engagement app.
Get your customers to refer friends and family and reward them with points. You can reward them when their referrals sign up to your store, make a purchase, or both.
Wrapping it up 😉
You now have 9 tips to help you prepare your store for Christmas. You don’t have to implement all of them at once.
If you’re short on time, make sure you have at least two of the above nine points in place.
We highly recommend that the holiday customer service be at the top of your 2022-holiday-to-do list. Because you can’t go wrong with great customer service.
Want to explore the benefits of a customer loyalty program? Then check out Gameball’s free trial and paid options.
If you’d like to learn more about what a rewards program can do for your online store, then check out these blog posts: