The holiday shopping season is definitely in full swing, with less than a month to go before Christmas day. And while some early bird shoppers are probably taking it easy by now, a big chunk of consumers will still flock to retail stores. In fact, you can expect your foot traffic (and hopefully) sales to pick up in the coming weeks and continue til the days leading up to 25th.
Speaking of which, last minute holiday shoppers can be a godsend to retailers because they give you plenty of opportunities for sales and engagement.
And that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about today. In this post, we’re offering some practical tips to help attract—and convert—last-minute holiday shoppers.
Check them out below:
Recognize that speed can make or break sales
Speed is critical to converting last-minute customers. Remember, these shoppers are pressed for time and need to complete their purchases ASAP. They want to browse, shop, and pay with ease. That’s why should remove any friction points that are slowing down the shopping experience and ensure that shoppers can get their hands on products in the most convenient way possible.
Here are some things you could look into:
Store navigation and staff
Set up the necessary signage, and arrange fixtures in a way that makes it simple to navigate your store. You want shoppers to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for when they’re in the shop.
Clearly point out where people can find gifts for men, women, kids, etc. Train your employees to know where everything is so they’re prepared to help shoppers who need assistance.
Also instruct your staff to be more diligent with cleaning and organizing your store. Have them move about the shop and be on the lookout for disorganized products or items that aren’t in their proper shelves, so they can tidy up immediately.
Store navigation improvements can also be applied to your ecommerce shop. If you’re selling online, create banners or even special navigation links for the season.
For example, why not have a collection or page filled with your top holiday products or gift items, then put up a link in your navigation bar to direct people to the page? You should also have holiday-themed banners up on your front page so visitors can get to your offers or products in as few clicks as possible.
When customers have already decided that they want to buy from you, the last thing you want is to lose them at checkout. Unfortunately, many retailers seem to be dropping the ball when it comes to ringing up sales. Between long lines and associates having trouble with the POS, the checkout experience can be frustrating and could lead to shoppers abandoning their purchase.
Prevent this by improving the checkout experience. Depending on your store, there are a number of ways to go about this. Some stores are replacing their slow cash registers with mobile POS systems that not only work faster, but can also speed up checkout through functions like email receipts and mobile payments.
Other retailers are taking things a step further by untethering their POS system altogether. This lets associates ring up purchases on the sales floor, rather than from behind a cash wrap. Home Depot has been implementing this for some time now, and it has enabled the retailer to improve checkout in-store by allowing their staff to ring up sales in aisles or even in the outdoor garden areas of their stores.
Speed is obviously critical for online retailers. Studies have found that “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.” This means that a few seconds delay in your site’s load time could result in you losing about half of potential customers.
That’s a big chunk, especially during the holidays, so make sure you address all your site speed issues (and prevent them from turning up) before the season’s shopping rush.
Some of the things you can do are:
- Optimizing your images
- Reducing the size of above-the-fold content
- Getting rid of unnecessary plugins
- Minifying resources
To check your site speed and to see the things slowing you down, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool here.
Also be sure to check out our post on addressing high ecommerce bounce rates for more insights on optimizing your online store.
Send out holiday gift guides
Your last-minute customers could use a bit of help and inspiration finding presents. Give them a leg up using gift guides filled with ideas and product recommendations.
Go through your product catalog, pick out the ones that would make for great holiday presents, and include them in your holiday guide. Bonus points if your guide can add real value (instead of just plugging your business). On top of gift recommendations, why not throw in recipes, party ideas, or tips for enjoying the season?
Check out what Starbucks did. For 2014, the coffee company sent out a holiday gift guide to their email subscribers to entice people to check out their brews and merchandise. And in addition to their holiday picks, Starbucks also added a link to their “Holiday Pinspiration” board on Pinterest that’s filled with recipes and gift ideas.
Consider changing up your merchandising mix
Depending on your store, you could consider spicing up your product mix during the holidays by selling items you don’t usually carry. If your main products don’t normally make for great holiday presents, it would make sense to branch out a bit.
Take for example, Lucky Brand, a retailer that specializes in denim. As Forbes puts it, since “jeans are a tough gift for people to give to someone else,” the retailer shifts is merchandising mix to add more shoes and accessories to their catalog.
You may want to do the same if you find yourself in the same holiday dilemma.
At a time when customers are getting even more marketing messages and emails in their inbox, how can you stand out and get them to notice your offers? One word: personalization.
Be more targeted with your offers. If you’re sending out emails, tailor your messages to the buying history and preferences of your customers. Touch base with people who bought from you in the past and remind them of the reasons why they love shopping with you. Tell them their favorite brand is back in stock and you’re giving them a special discount just for being a regular customer.
Offer gift cards
People love giving and receiving gift cards. In 2014, the NRF found that “62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making gift cards the most requested gift item eight years in a row.” They also ranked as the second most popular gift item during the season, next to apparel, according to Deloitte.
Stats like that should be reason enough to start offering gift cards. Not only will you increase sales, but your customers (especially those shopping at the last minute) will adore you for selling gift cards because they’ll save a ton of time and effort from having to pick out (and wrap) specific presents.
Set up gift-centric displays
Determine your top-selling and most gifted items during the holidays, then put the spotlight on those products by placing them in a special display or shelf. Make sure people see it (and know what it is) by putting signage along the lines of “Holiday top sellers” or “Gifts for him/her”.
For best results, bundle these items to increase value and incentivize sales. Depending on the products, there are a number of bundling strategies you could implement, including:
Complementary products – Group a product with a relevant accessory or complementary items (Ex: A doll and her accessories.)
Multiple item grouping – Bundle a number of units of the same products then sell them as a package. (Ex: Items that come in multiple colors.)
Slow-moving items with top sellers – Pair slow-moving products with your more popular items. (Ex: Top-selling pairs of shoes with slow-moving socks.)
Offer gift-wrapping services
If you have the space and staffing resources for it (and if it makes sense for your business), why not offer gift-wrapping services? Your last-minute shoppers will thank you for it.
Depending on your business, you can structure your gift-wrapping services in a number of ways. You can offer it as complementary service to add value to purchases and give people another reason to buy. Or you can add certain conditions such as “Free gift wrapping with every $50 purchase.” You can also offer gift wrapping as an upsell to increase people order values.
Run attractive (but still profitable) promotions
Sales are rampant during this season, and while they’re undoubtedly effective in generating sales, you shouldn’t be tempted to offer discounts that eat up your profits.
This holiday season, strive to be more strategic with your discounts. You can start by personalizing your promotions. Segment your customers based on their price sensitivity and shopping habits, then offer discounts accordingly.
The following table is an example of what you can do:
Vend tip – are you a Vend user? Our customer management software makes it easy to build and manage customer lists, so you can view, sort, and group shoppers according to factors like purchase history, balance, and location.
As we mentioned in our article about discounting in retail, carrying out creative pricing or sale strategies will allow you to entice customers without killing your profits or hurting your brand.
You can, for instance, set spending thresholds on your promotions. Rather than just giving away free shipping, why not offer it once the customer spends a certain dollar amount?
Another tactic would be to have exclusive sales reserved for your most loyal customers or top spenders.
In some cases, you may not even have to “push” your discounts to customers. Have a look at what Express, an apparel retail chain did, when it revamped it promotional strategy.
In late 2014 (and continuing to 2015), Express decided to hold fewer promotional events. It also relocated its sale items from the front of the store to the back. This move encouraged shoppers to check out their top-notch items first, and allowed the retailer to get more people paying full price without alienating those looking for deals.
Consider extending your store hours
For some retailers, opening a little early and closing later than usual can make a big difference this season. That’s why plenty of retailers extend their operating hours during the holidays.
Last year, for example, Macy’s kept its doors open for 24 hours on December 22 and 23, and remained open from 12 am to 6 pm on Christmas Eve. Similarly Toys ‘R’ Us also extended their hours and stayed open for 24 hours on the 22nd and 23rd, and until 10pm on the 24th.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should automatically follow suit. Some businesses won’t actually benefit from pulling these holiday all-nighters.
The best way to figure out if extending your holiday hours would make sense for you is to pay attention to holiday foot traffic trends. Are people coming in earlier or later during the holidays? For example, do you usually have more people waiting for you when you open your doors, or do you have customers coming in when you’re about to close?
Next, look at your sales data and determine if the sales you make during your extended hours would offset the costs of staying open. Naturally, if the answer is yes, then you should probably extend your store hours this season.
Selling online? Be more flexible with order fulfillment
Offering flexible order fulfillment options is a good idea all-year round, but during the holidays, it’s highly essential. Needless to say, last-minute shoppers want to get their hands on their purchases ASAP, so the usual standard shipping methods may not cut it this time of the year.
Cater to these shoppers by offering expedited shipping as well as fast order fulfillment methods like same day delivery or click and collect that lets people pick up their items in-store, on their own time.
Got any other tips for attracting last-minute holiday shoppers? Weigh in below.
The post 10 Holiday Tips to Attract and Convert Last-Minute Shoppers appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.