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Omnichannel Shopping: Getting in the Holiday Spirit

BY CSA STAFF

By David Rekuc, Marketing Director, Ripen E-commerce

It’s three days before the Christmas party and you still don’t have that Secret Santa gift for your cousin. You head to the perfume store, hoping for the right present to make up for a year of no calls and absent-minded Facebook likes. You find a gift and check the price online only to see it is 15 bucks cheaper. Do you make the online purchase and risk it getting delivered in time? Or walk out with a more expensive, but safer deal? This is the mindset of your typical holiday shopper.

Although it seems far away, the holiday sales season is something e-commerce retailers should already be considering. The biggest challenge? How to provide consumers with a cohesive omnichannel shopping experience. Whether it is last-minute in-store shopping, express shipping, in-store pickups, or instant gift credit, the savvy e-commerce retailer should have all locations working in sync to accommodate their patrons.

Make Room for Showrooming

Early in the season you need to account for the shrewd comparison shoppers. According to the December 2013 MIT Technology Review Business Report, 80% of store shoppers check prices online. A great way to stand out from competitors is by encouraging showroom shopping at your physical locations. Provide fast Wi-Fi connection in-stores and use your site as the homepage. Make sure product names yields good search results, as patrons are more likely to look-up specifics if they’re standing in front of the product.

Also check that your prices are the same in-store as online (or at least very close). Your customers shouldn’t feel like they could get a better deal somewhere else or that your prices are arbitrary. You can also show complete transparency by placing a QR code or UPC scan next to the product that leads directly to your product page. If you make the process too difficult, your customers might go elsewhere. As Best Buy CEO Hubery Joly said, "Once customers are in our stores, they’re ours to lose.”

More Than One Way to Deliver the Goods

For those a little behind on their to-buy list, consider offering in-store pickups of online orders in addition to in-store and online shopping. This way your orders continue up until the last possible moment while guaranteeing your customer will receive it. It also provides peace of mind that they can (or let the gift receiver) return it at a physical location. The 2013 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper reports that 62% of shoppers want to buy items online and return in-store while 44% would choose in-store pickups. Provide as many options as possible to keep your shoppers in the holiday spirit.

Cater to the Procrastinators

For those seriously behind in their shopping (you’re at the party already) you can offer the ultimate last resort – electronically delivered gift cards. They are an easy, set it and forget it revenue source that should be a staple on every e-commerce site. Just be sure the codes for these gifts are accepted in brick and mortar stores if you have them. In addition to being a fast, easy a large portion of online credit will go unused or will be used for a purchase of higher value.

You can even offer these cards at a discount to increase sales. "Our $50 gift cards are now $40!" Or better yet, offer an increased value gift card. "$50 cards will be bumped up to $60!"

The holiday shopping season focuses on time, price, and convenience. Creating an omnichannel experience gives your customers an array of option, allowing them to choose one that suits them. And having that varied source of customer service will build brand trust, bringing them back to your site throughout the rest of the year.


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Report: Wal-Mart seeks to keep bribe probe files from investors

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reportedly seeking to keep files regarding an internal probe of possible bribes paid to Mexican officials to aid real estate deals out of the hands of investors. According to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is arguing in a case before the Delaware Supreme Court that the files in question are protected by attorney-client privilege.

In 2005, executives in Wal-Mart’s Mexican operation told senior management that at least $24 million in bribes had been paid to Mexican government officials in order to ease the process of building warehouses and stores. The payments were not disclosed in regulatory filings until 2011 and U.S. and Mexican officials are investigating whether the payments can be considered criminal.

Wal-Mart investors including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund are seeking access to the files. A Delaware state court ruled Wal-Mart had to turn over the files in 2013, but Wal-Mart is currently appealing the ruling to the state’s highest court.

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OPERATIONS

Study: Data breaches erode consumer trust

BY Dan Berthiaume

Austin, Texas – Thirty-five percent of consumers would stop shopping at a store where their data was hacked. According to a recent survey of almost 2,000 consumers by software consulting firm Software Advice, another 22% would be much less willing to shop there.

Meanwhile, if their confidence in a retailer’s data were secure, 33% of consumers would be much more likely to shop there and 22% would be somewhat more likely. And while 33% of consumers feel safe overall when using a credit card and 13% feel very safe, 22% feel increasingly concerned and 7% expect to get hacked. Twenty-five percent of consumers do not use credit cards.

In addition, only 20% of respondents would feel more confident if a retailer communicated that they are taking security measures to protect their personal data.

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