It is no secret that the holiday shopping season is a very important time for retailers. Although the impact of this season has trended downward in recent years, retailers still see as much as 20% of their revenue (and 30% of eCommerce revenue) being generated in the 61 days between November 1 and December 31 each year. While estimates vary across researchers, holiday sales in 2016 are expected to grow more than average, nearing $650 billion. eCommerce is expected to capture more than 8% of this revenue.
As shoppers anticipate the holiday season, they are starting their shopping earlier in the year. While Black Friday (November 25 this year) will still generate a significant share of shopping dollars and visits, nearly 40% of shoppers begin their holiday purchases before Hallowe’en. Holiday-themed merchandise now hits the shelves as early as September.
What does this mean for retailers? You have to be ready. Your company has to be visible. Your products have to be compelling. And your product information has to be accurate and consistent.
Being ready means that your products have to be on store shelves—either in your brick and mortar store or in your digital storefront—at the precise time that the first shopper searches for you. This requires intense planning, efficient processes, and frictionless execution.
To be visible means that you have to have excellent content that draws shoppers to your site. In addition, that content must be aligned with your search engine optimization strategy, especially since more than 70% of shoppers search first on either Amazon or Google. Download our white paper on how to write a product page that boosts your SEO for some tips to help with this effort.
To attract buyers, your products have to tell a story—one that differentiates your product from those of competitors and communicates to shoppers exactly what they are buying. You need to provide a complete picture of the product so that the customer is delighted by what they purchase—either in-store or online. In addition, anticipating the customer’s needs by presenting complementary offers and bundled assortments will speed their purchase decision-making, as well as provide a valuable and time-saving service. Achieving this high level of satisfaction will help to reduce product returns after the holiday season is over.
Be accurate and consistent.
However, to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, your product information must be accurate and consistent across all channels—both online and off-line. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers lose trust in a brand if online product information is incorrect. This is hardly surprising when holiday shoppers, on average, spend between $800 and $900 on gifts in such a short period of time. While your job as a retailer is to delight your buyer, their job, in turn, is to delight the person receiving the gift. Wrong sizes, specs and colors, inaccurate shipping information, and erroneous inventory information will likely not achieve that objective. Therefore, as a retailer, you need to be sure that every piece of data that appears on your website or in your offline advertising or catalog is accurate and compelling—and consistent from channel to channel.
Product information management can help
Product information management can help with each of these goals. A central product store will enable you to maintain and control all of your product data, guaranteeing that it is accurate and consistent prior to being published to any channel. When onboarding date from suppliers and other data sources, you can ensure that all information is being captured correctly and completely. In addition, you can manage complementary assortments to increase sales and build credibility with your buyers. As these internal processes become more streamlined, you can spend more time gauging trends and customer preferences to customize messaging and product assortments. In addition, you can get your products to market earlier, catching the fads, beating the competition, and securing those early-bird shoppers.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver