During the festive season, three-quarters (75%) of British consumers plan to spend the same or more as last year on the 2020 holiday season’s online events and blockbuster deals. That’s according to the latest research by Periscope® by McKinsey, based on insights from over 3,500 shoppers in China, France, Germany and the UK.
The fact is clear: the 2020 holiday shopping season will take place online, more so than ever before, as shoppers alter their gift-buying habits in response to widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Delivery companies are already preparing for the peak in online orders around the holidays. This peak is expected to be even higher than normal due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. For example, web shops are predicting an extra 20% to sometimes as much as 50% increase in turnover compared to last year.
That’s why choosing the correct domain name for your online business is also more important than ever before. As Hiro Tsukahara, CEO of GMO-Registry, that owns the valuable TLD ‘.Shop’ explains:
“Your domain is a powerful marketing tool which you must make the most of. Using an intuitive and easy to remember domain such as .Shop helps you to turn your web address into a valuable piece of real estate that promotes your business and wins customers.”
Mr Tsukahara offers those independent online retailers looking to capitalise on the busy festive season the following four expert tips to ensure they make the most of the increasing numbers of online shoppers this holiday season:
1. Offer the best personalised experience
Many web shop owners understand the value of offering their customers a personalised experience. Enhancing your customer service offering as much as possible around the busy Christmas holiday festive gift-buying season is more important in 2020 than it has ever been before. The crisis around coronavirus and the associated changes in consumers’ online shopping habits means that there is a new target group to focus your efforts on this year. That’s because far more older shoppers, in the 50-plus demographic, have discovered the benefits of online shopping as a direct response to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions this holiday season.
To best personalise the customer experience for these ‘new’ online shoppers, always remember to give them personal recommendations based on their wish list, previous purchases or viewed products. And should they leave your website without paying, make sure to send them a personalised follow-up email, giving them the option of being able to speak to a human to discuss their Christmas gift-buying needs. Older shoppers, in particular, respond really well to this human touch. And this is a great way of building up a loyal customer base that will return again and again in 2021 and beyond.
And, of course, what better way to personalise your customer’s online shopping experience, by offering them a unique experience through a personalised online shop. A great way of doing this is using the short and meaningful .Shop TLD, as Hiro Tsukahara, CEO of GMO-Registry explains: “As a short and meaningful TLD, Internet users will instantly identify a .Shop website as a place where they can shop. Add .Shop to your brand name to distinguish your online shopping function from your corporate website or choose a generic term to instantly tell users what you are selling. This universal recognition gives .Shop the potential to truly become the global home of ecommerce.”
2. Offer delivery options to suit the customer’s needs
A recent poll of British shoppers revealed that well over half (60 percent) are changing their approach to buying Christmas presents this year and planned on purchasing gifts before the end of November. In the survey of 2,000 British consumers by OnePoll, commissioned by retailer John Lewis, nearly a third of Brits said that they were planning Christmas 2020 earlier than they would traditionally.
The best tip to ensure you capitalise on this year’s trend to get Christmas planned and presents purchased early is to offer your customers several shipping options during the online checkout process. If you are able to offer a range of faster delivery options, with confirmed delivery slots and dates, for a marginal extra fee, then you will appeal to far more anxious or nervous gift-buyers than you would if you only offer a free delivery option, with no confirmed delivery date.
Another great tip here is to set up partnerships with multiple delivery services. That way you can ensure that the customer gets his or her goods on time. If carrier A is busy, you simply switch your delivery option to carrier B. Also, it helps if you can clearly communicate to your customers your FINAL order date for them to guarantee delivery to their chosen collection point of their gifts before Christmas Day on 25th December.
3. Make sure your distribution centre can keep up with the shipping process
Above all, if customers choose your fastest shipping method, make sure your distribution centre can handle the demand. After all, the more orders that are placed, the more capacity is needed to ensure that all parcels are ready for dispatch in time. To keep up with the increased consumer demand over the busy holiday season you can (temporarily) hire extra staff. Or, if you sell via a marketplace, use their parcel and shipping services.
4. Integrate voice searches into your SEO strategy
Do you think you have your SEO all in order? Think again. The coronavirus pandemic caused considerable fluctuations in the search volume on Google. As a result, it might prove to be more of a challenge than previously anticipated to keep your SEO strategy on track – something that is not so easy for a web shop based on searched for specific product names or descriptions. In order to make your shop and products easier to find, it is highly advisable to include spoken searches in your strategy. Search engines attach increasing value to these kinds of searches, because they want to show users the best results.
A far greater proportion of online and mobile users are now searching via the digital assistant on their smartphone, according to ComScore research. The analysis company predicts that in 2020, more than 50% of searches will be based on voice search technology. So, it’s high time to delve deeper into this.
Follow the four top tips above, and you will be well prepared and able to capitalise as best as possible on this year’s busy online holiday shopping season. Remember: keep it personal, and always offer service with a smile. After all, it is the little things that customers remember and that will ensure you have many happy new customers returning to your web shop in the new year and beyond. Happy Holidays!