Peak is just around the corner and it’s the perfect opportunity for retailers to attract, convert and retain both new and returning customers. Ensuring that systems and processes are up to date and operating as efficiently as possible is crucial for retailers to capitalise on their success beyond busiest time of the year and also start laying the groundwork for the trading year ahead. We consulted with our optimisation experts who gave us their top tips and advice to help brands prepare for peak. The best news is that it’s not too late to consider implementing some of these before it really ramps up.
Customers want to shop across multiple channels, so it’s crucial to ensure the cart is updated and available across devices to provide a seamless shopping experience. The cart and checkout experience can be optimised and upsell items with personalised product recommendations based on previous purchases or recently viewed items. In Tryzens testing, 88% of customers found the idea of having easy to buy products in the basket as ‘useful’ and ‘fun’ and ‘they would consider buying’ the suggested items. A great example of this can be seen on the Sweaty Betty website, where they leverage AI to recommend the most relevant products.
While discounting attracts customers, increases engagement and drives sales, it’s important to decide what goes on sale and what doesn’t to preserve brand integrity. If running promotions feels like the right fit for your brand, consider promotions with shorter periods and limit the range included to protect your margins. If your promotional offer is a one-off for peak, remember to be transparent with your customers and let them know.
The customer journey is no longer one-size-fits-all. According to Tryzens Personalisation Survey, 75% of consumers want a personalised experience. Customer journey orchestration leverages customer journey data from every channel by taking the most relevant interactions in the context of each customer’s goals and their overall experience. As a result, engagement is highly personalised for every individual, because the interactions are based on each customer’s prior experience.
Brands with the most loyal customers focus on ways they can reward customers for choosing to shop with them. A simple yet effective method of engaging loyal customers is by offering them VIP ‘early access’ on specific promotions.
Beyond a discount, there are strategies that can shape consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions. Gift with purchase or complimentary product samples not only help boost brand awareness; they’re also a source of high conversion rates. SurfStitch, the Australian coastal lifestyle brand, is well-known for its gift with purchase offer that strengthens their relationship with their loyal customers and encourages future purchases. If you offer subscriptions on your products – a discount or offer could be made to restore their paused or cancelled orders rewarding past loyalty and drawing them back in.
Post-purchase interactions can improve your customer service, shorten the purchase cycles, and increase customer lifetime value. Communication can be through emails, social media interaction, offer messages, or customer support but any channel that engages your customers directly counts. Building loyalty takes time and ongoing effort. A great way to tackle this down the line is by implementing a compelling loyalty program that is built around what customers want and need from your brand. This can include sending vouchers on their next purchase, which offers both consumers and businesses benefits such as saving money, promoting sales, and building customer loyalty again.
During peak season, we always expect a surge in the number of orders received and in-turn, increased stress of having to meet demand. Over the past 1-2 years, spurred on by rolling lockdowns, digital commerce become the primary channel for many consumers. In turn, we need to provide delivery options that make it easy for all customers to receive their orders in a way that is the most convenient and delightful for them. This can include same-day delivery, next-day delivery, concierge services, locker box delivery options, as well as gift wrapping. In addition, having a simple and flexible returns policy that is linked across all channels will ultimately pave the path to purchase.
The rise in orders puts strain on the customer service team, especially when managing returns. Providing a smooth and integrated returns process, similar to one found with Seafolly’s return portal, has proven to delight customers with clearly displayed options, accurate timeframes, clear communication and returns tracking to keep peace-of-mind.
Although marketing tactics during Peak season is normally associated with discounts and offers, savvy retailers take this time to swap the good deals for good deeds, swapping their usual Black Friday discounts for donations to charitable causes or commitments to more sustainable shopping. This past year in particular has been proven to be tough for not only retailers and brands, but also families who have all faced financial hardship due to the pandemic. Knowing this, many retailers have taken it upon themselves to ditch the discounts and instead decided to donate a fraction of their sales within the Peak season to local charities. Another great idea is promoting the idea of slow or sustainable shopping. A great example is The Ordinary’s month of discounts, so customers make considered purchases, rather than rushing against the clock.
Having a solid SEO strategy is key to making the most of peak and full visibility of SEO performance metrics is critical to understanding issues that could be impacting your performance. There are several tools and strategies that can help manage these risks and identify opportunities for optimisation:
Large spikes in traffic associated with peak can cause huge stress for websites. The increased loads on servers can slow download times, lock up pages, and block transactions resulting in a poor customer experience, damaged brand reputation and lost sales opportunities. Testing your storefront ahead of time to confirm optimal performance under high load is essential to ensure you are ready to handle the additional Peak traffic. In fact, we recommend that all implementations are load tested as often as possible (at least annually) to verify performance of both the storefront and platform.
The busiest time of the year will naturally see an overall increase in conversion rates but savvy retailers can use this time to help increase conversion rates when things are not so busy. With the right tracking in place, peak could become a key moment where you learn the most about your customers. A common mistake that brands make is only focusing on the end conversion rate number and not the smaller conversion events that led up to customer making a purchase. The sooner you can create a link between users and customers, you will have a single source of truth around frequency, recency and monetary value that will help you identify which segments are best to target within your CRO efforts.
Peak is a busy and exciting time for brands and customers alike. But just as the customers are looking to find the best value so too should retailers be thinking about ways to strike while the iron is hot and set themselves up for success in the coming year.