Commentary

Making The Most Of Search, Business Insights This Holiday Season

  • by , October 15, 2020


As the holiday season draws closer, we already see significant shifts in the way retailers plan to approach the most unusual holiday shopping season in history. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sow uncertainty and anxiety, leading brands and major retailers have announced they will not open on Thanksgiving Day.

Last year, close to 190 million U.S. consumers spent $361.9 million on gifts and holiday items over Thanksgiving weekend.

According to the National Retail Federation, the shift to online shopping was already well underway, with 142 million of those consumers shopping on retailers’ websites versus 124 million who shopped in-store.

Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store sales and for the first time, unseated Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online shopping as well.

However, while there is still uncertainty surrounding major retailers' Black Friday strategy, Cyber Monday has the potential to be bigger than ever this year.

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This year, retailers need to keep one finger firmly on the pulse of holiday shoppers as they navigate changes in consumer behavior driven entirely by factors outside of anyone's control.

Developing an understanding of macro market changes

How will trends in consumer behavior impact your cross-channel media strategy this holiday season? Much is unknown, but let’s take a look at what we know so far:

  • 73% of consumers who shop online more since COVID-19 plan to continue doing so even after the pandemic has passed.
  • Nearly half of US adults surveyed by Salesforce in May said they are more interested in online shopping for the 2020 holidays than last year.
  • Salesforce also found that 37% of shoppers are more interested in shopping in-app than last year, and 22% are more receptive to shopping via social media.

Retailers in currently under-performing segments may still be able to drive new business with early booking promotions (with flexible cancellation/rebooking policies), gift cards/certificates, partnerships with retailers in better-performing verticals, etc.

For brands where in-store experience is critical to customer experience, some have had great success with their virtual-reality strategies.

Replacing marketing reliance on historical data with real-time insight

Even with this understanding of macro trends, what matters most is what is going on inside your own business with your own customers at any given point.

Brands heading into this unpredictable holiday season must be equipped and prepared for rapid consumer behavior changes and even the composition of who the target market entails. The experience consumers have in your online channels is vital.

Measuring your customers’ online experience?

Your website and app analytics provide metrics such as click-through-rate, content interaction, bounce rate, time onsite, and conversion that help you formulate a view of lower-funnel, direct interactions with your brand. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Real-time search data gives you a much richer and broader understanding of both localized and competitive opportunities. It provides not only a high-level view of your landscape but granularity and insights to enhance personalization, as well.

When you combine search data with the power of AI, you gain the scale and depth needed to provide this enhanced, real-time and relevant experience to consumers in every location, with every interaction, across the brand.

Deepening your understanding of consumer intent at the most granular level

Shoppers have been impacted in myriad ways by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know from our own research that shoppers are buying more items online and that that many shoppers will be using their mobile devices to research products this holiday shopping season -- more than last year.

Many have experienced income disruption or are concerned about their employment stability with sales, and deals are the most important communications from brands right now.

Consumers are looking to brands to be thoughtful and reassuring, to calm their anxieties, and to be proactive in communicating their understanding of consumer needs this holiday season.

Consumers are looking for information on product availability before purchase, flexibility in returns and cancellations, and offers around holiday shopping deals such as discounts and free shipping.

This holiday season it will be more critical for marketers than ever before to provide shoppers with personalized deals and content and an intuitive and enhanced e-commerce experience (especially on mobile), with an intense focus on quality information.

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