Sales forecasts for this upcoming holiday season haven’t been as optimistic as many hoped, but there are some highlights that retailers shouldn’t ignore. Spending is still expected to increase 3.6% overall, with department stores and e-commerce seeing the greatest gains. Seventy-three percent of consumers say they will look at sales or price discounts when deciding where to shop, but that still leaves retailers with questions about how to convert those consumers and turn in-store visits into real world sales.
“Retailers are always looking for an edge to acquire new customers as well as grow and maintain the loyalty of their existing customer base,” says Allan Haims, CEO of StepsAway, a platform that enables mall-based retailers to deliver hyperlocal offers. “With heightened consumer attention and purchase needs during the holiday shopping season, retailers must demonstrate relevancy and timeliness to rise above the competition.”
Here are seven strategies that retailers can use to increase conversion rates on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season.
1. Encourage associates to engage with shoppers. “The busier and more difficult to navigate the store is, the faster a shopper wants to get in and get out—but with product in hand. Store associates need to be able to engage and transact faster, but without sacrificing the level of service shoppers expect. [This means] repositioning the store associate as a beacon, a resource, a trusted advisor, and product specialist.” (Anne-Marie Goulet, Tulip Retail)
2. Create special in-store offers. “As mobile promotions are driving many customers into stores, retailers should extend this engagement connection with special in-store offers, for mobile shoppers — giving them a reason to continue shopping beyond what initially brought them in. For example, this might include extra in-store promotions delivered via mobile, personalized mobile offers for in-store purchases based on prior transactions, or an exclusive ‘gift with purchase’. Ultimately, retailers must give the shopper something that reminds them that the shopping experience exceeded their expectations.” (Allan Haims, StepsAway)
3. Run geo-targeted ads. “Reach the audience near your retail location that matters most to you. You can target based on demographics and behaviors that are important to your business. Re-target an audience that’s even more likely to convert, such as audiences similar to those who have called before. Target customers that purchased in-store over the holidays the prior year. This audience is more likely to convert offline than someone who has never purchased from you or only purchases online from you.” (Susan Bryant, DialogTech)
4. Target holiday shoppers in local search results. “Nearly 80% of holiday shoppers use their smartphones to research purchases. And they will likely conduct local searches, which directly increases sales for retailers. Seventy-eight percent of local mobile searches result in purchases, with nearly 90% happening in-store or over the phone. It’s now critical for retailers to optimize local mobile search for offline conversions, such as call conversions, this holiday season.” (Susan Bryant, DialogTech)
5. Get the timing right. “Offering holiday specials and deals is important, however, timing is also critical. To get the timing just right, hyperlocal targeting tactics like geofencing, or ‘virtual barriers’ to trigger promotional text messages, email alerts, or app notifications when a mobile device enters or exits the specified area, is highly effective. In addition, geofencing is extremely useful during the holidays to help drive walk-in traffic to businesses such as restaurants while shoppers are out-and-about.” (Josh Markham, ReachLocal)
6. Use localized messaging. “Let your audience know you’re nearby. Use clear messaging and images. Update your business hours for the holiday season. And be clear as to what you want your customer to do. Whether it’s to purchase over the phone or in-store. If they’re searching for the toy of the season, then your ads should include messaging specific to the search, such as ‘Call to place your gift on hold.’” (Susan Bryant, DialogTech)
7. Bring in extra employees. “Have extra staff on hand to handle the increase in sales. One issue we’ve noticed from Free Shipping Day participants is underestimating how much interest is generated by the event, and scrambling to fulfill orders and ship everything out on time. Make sure you plan for a big boost in sales and have the support you need to make the experience top-notch for your customers.” (Luke Knowles, Free Shipping Day)
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.