As the holiday shopping season approaches, there’s still time left for small to medium-sized retailers and brands to fine-tune their business for maximum success.
Tzipi Avioz, executive vice president of customer success for Mirakl, the online marketplace platform, said merchants can stay competitive by understanding their customers’ behaviors. “Consumer demands are evolving fast, and we are living in an era of ‘anything, anytime, anywhere,’” Avioz told WWD. “Fortunately, smaller retailers today have access to more customer data than ever, giving them insights into their preferences, attitudes, economic willingness and more.”
Avioz said by carefully leveraging this customer data, “retailers can better understand what products are performing best, build strategic assortment strategies, and make sure they can quickly respond to the latest trends.”
Another pro tip from Avioz is for retailers to expand their assortment to keep inventory stocked and retain customer loyalty.
“During times of supply chain disruption, rising inflation and customer demands that are hard to predict, expanding your product assortment is even more critical to retain loyal customers and find new ones,” Avioz explained. “More offers can increase your basket size with existing customers while at the same time growing inbound traffic through SEO. However, you don’t want to give customers more products without a strategy. It’s important that you don’t overwhelm them. Look at the categories that customers identify you with — your core assortment. You can also look one level up at the categories that are closely related to your core assortment that you don’t currently offer.”
Avioz said if business owners don’t know where to start, “review your site search to determine, ‘what are the five or 10 most common fruitless searches on my e-commerce site?’”
Mindy Weinstein, Ph.D., an expert in digital marketing and the founder of the digital marketing firm Market MindShift, said now is a good time to highlight restocks.
“This strategy works year-round but can especially boost sales during the holiday season because shoppers have a looming deadline (i.e., the holiday itself),” Weinstein told WWD. “If a product has just been restocked, let customers know. Doing so has two psychological effects. One, it creates a sense of urgency to purchase the product before it sells out again. Two, it creates a fear of missing out. From the customer’s perspective, because the product previously sold out means, it could happen again. In other words, the customer would lose the chance to buy it.”
Weinstein also suggested creating 24- to 72-hour holiday flash sales. “Academic research and practical application have shown that flash sales cause anticipated regret,” Weinstein said. “Customers know if they do not buy within that time window, they lose the discounted prices. An added benefit of flash sales is that it increases brand marketing. Notifying customers via email, text or mail about the sales gets your company in front of your customers, making you ‘top of mind.’ The ideal period for a flash sale is 24 to 72 hours because that gives customers enough time to know about the sale and act.”
Specifically for e-commerce SMBs, Andrew Chan, cofounder and chief marketing officer of AfterShip, a post-purchase SaaS platform used by 14,000-plus e-commerce customers, said now is a good time to update return policies to combat bracketing.
“The practice of bracketing has been gaining steam with e-commerce consumers over the past few years,” Chan told WWD. “Shoppers are buying multiples of the same item online because they aren’t sure of the sizing, color, or other reasons. To combat the expensive costs incurred for looming holiday returns and reduce the number of items being sent back to your fulfillment center or warehouse, be sure to look at your returns policy. Make it as clear as possible and specify: time limits, if the return is free, whether there is a restocking fee, and which items are non-returnable. This can help curb bracketing.”
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