TECHNOLOGY

It’s beginning to look like a mobile Christmas

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More consumers kicked off their holiday shopping through mobile devices and social media.

This was according to “Shopper-First Retailing,” a study from Salesforce that reported more shoppers than ever started their holiday shopping on a phone during the Black Friday weekend. In fact, mobile traffic hovered around 70% for the majority of the week.

More shoppers also made purchases on their phones this year than any other device. Mobile order share was the highest on Thanksgiving Day at 54% compared to 49% on Black Friday, and 45% on Cyber Monday.

Social media was once again a critical component that helped drive traffic to retail sites. Facebook and Instagram alone drove 94% of all social traffic to retail sites, up slightly from 92% in 2017. As Cyber Week deals wound down, shoppers talked about gadgets, big retailers and – in a crafty surprise – Etsy, the online artisan marketplace.

The five most-talked-about retailers on social media during Cyber Week were Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, eBay and Best Buy. The five most-talked-about products during the same time-frame were Sony PlayStation, Apple iPhone, Amazon Echo, Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle.

Shoppers also stepped up their digital usage for customer service. While customer service agents viewed 10% more service cases this Cyber Monday compared to last, shoppers weren’t just picking up the phone. Calls to customer service centers saw a slight year-over-year decline, as consumers shift the way they engage with customer service by turning to digital channels like social, messaging and chat.

Preparing for this shift toward more digital shoppers, retailers also quickly ramped up discount rates on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. They stayed elevated throughout the weekend and ended with a bang on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday saw a record 31% average discount rate.

Marketers enticed shoppers with SMS and email notifications early in the week, up 159% and 26% year-over-year respectively, on Thanksgiving Day, compared to a 69% increase in SMS notifications and 23% increase in email sends on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday saw 84% of orders ship for free, impacting average order value (AOV), as shoppers did not have to to add additional items to their carts to avoid shipping costs.

“Consumers went online early, went mobile and went social this Cyber Week, driving healthy digital growth for retailers,” said Rob Garf, VP, industry strategy for retail, Salesforce. “This holiday season, shoppers responded to retailer innovation in mobile, payments and social that are enabling seamless and personalized consumer experiences — from product discovery to purchase.”

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TECHNOLOGY

This is what sets Chinese retailers apart from global competitors

BY CSA Staff

Technology hasn’t just transformed China’s retail space, it has given the country a leg up on their competition around the world.

Innovation in China’s retail industry has led to newer ways for businesses to sell their products to consumers — online, offline and over social networks, Ling Chenkai, VP at JD.com told CNBC.

Specifically, China’s retail sector has adopted advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. That has led to the development of new types of retail segments, including unmanned convenience stores that allow customers check out items on their own, and feature facial recognition technology and electronic price tags, the report explained.

To read more, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Michaels looks to connect customer experiences cross-channel

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The Michaels Companies is reaching for the cloud to personalize content, promotions and offers across all touchpoints.

Ready to deepen engagement among its tens of millions of customers, the arts-and-crafts retailer leveraged its long-time relationship with Salesforce to deliver seamless, personalized shopping experiences across all channels. Using the company’s Commerce Cloud platform, Michaels will centralize e-commerce, service and marketing onto one platform.

By deploying the platform in its call centers, Michaels customer service reps are armed with a complete view of customers in one unified desktop view, a move that will help them to solve issues faster and with greater accuracy. Meanwhile, a marketing module enables the company to create a more integrated omnichannel shopping journey.

The platform will also enable the retailer to quickly build an application network that integrates various back-office systems and customer data, enabling Michaels to quickly build new apps and omnichannel experiences. This network also enables the company to reuse existing APIs and integrations to increase development speed and agilely adapt its customer engagement strategy to keep up with the evolving retail space.

The platform’s marketing module will enable Michaels to integrate customer data across touchpoints, and use powerful data management to deliver real-time, personalized shopping experiences across email, social and digital advertising. Efforts will drive valuable engagement with shoppers at just the right moment, according to Michaels.

“We want to take the friction out of shopping and help our customers engage with us in the easiest way possible, no matter where they are in their shopping journeys,” said Steve Carlotti, executive VP of marketing, The Michaels Companies. “With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, we will be able to better leverage all of the customer data we have to drive more effective audience engagement and ensure that every customer communication is timely and relevant.”

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