A Retailer’s Ultimate Guide to Holiday Shopping

A new report from our friends at Responsys outlines how retailers can start taking advantage early (well, it’s not really early anymore, now is it?) of the holiday shopping surge. One point the company outlines is how influential mobile will be this season. While customers may not be buying the majority of gifts through their mobile device, it will play a huge role in their research and comparison shopping. Responsys suggests taking advantage of SMS, for instance, to help with the holiday push. According to the report, 90 percent of promotional texts are opened by their recipients, most within three minutes or less. Stacked up against email marketing, research shows that texts can be eight times more effective at engaging customers. Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 4.59.49 PM

The report suggests five ways to better engage customers during the holiday season:

1. Prioritize tablets over smartphones. Tablets offer a much better user experience and conversion rates on tablets are three times higher than on smartphones, according to a study by BrightEdge Mobile Share. eMarketer reports that 63 percent of all tablet owners have bought a product or service from their device, compared to just 39 percent of smartphone users.

2. Optimize for a mobile experience. Consumers who aren’t satisfied with a brand’s mobile website experience seek out a competitor: Fifty-two percent of mobile users report abandoning a brand after a poor mobile experience, and 48 percent said they feel like a low priority if a site isn’t mobile-friendly, according to a Google study. To present a good experience, retailers should, above all, optimize their websites for mobile viewing. Make mobile websites useful by enabling customers to click on a phone number that automatically calls customer service, and integrating responsive design to optimize the layout and format for the device being used.

3. Experiment with SMS. SMS messages are a great way to engage with customers and earn their trust – as long as the alerts are targeted and relevant. Entice customers to sign up for SMS messages with QR codes and promotions displayed in physical stores, in email messages and through electronic receipts. The promise of shipping and delivery alerts works – and can draw last-minute shoppers to opt-in with their phone numbers.

4. Offer in-store Wi-Fi. Nine out of 10 smartphone shoppers used their devices to buy products while at a brick-and-mortar store, according to a report from JiWire. In response, retailers are providing free Wi-Fi so consumers can search the brand’s website for additional styles, sizes or collections and then purchase the products found online – all while standing in the company’s store. Last season, JCPenney, Target and Saks introduced in-store Wi-Fi, and this year more will follow their lead.

5. Add location-based services and offers. Delivering last-minute deals or sneak peeks at exclusive collections via geo-targeting is key to attracting new customers and keeping existing ones happy. But according to Econsultancy, only 15 percent of retailers offer location-based apps. Twelve percent of Wal-Mart’s online revenues now come from customers who are physically in one of its stores, thanks to a geo-fencing app that has a “store mode,” according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. What’s more, location-based services can also trigger coupons and notifications to be sent across channels – to email, SMS and Apple’s Passbook app.

Check out the Responsys eBook for more info about how to optimize your customers’ shopping experience for this holiday season.