For retail businesses, the festive shopping season is typically the busiest period for sales. It’s not uncommon in the three months before Christmas, referred to as the ‘Golden Quarter’, for retailers to see their sales increase more than four-fold.
This year has been a very different year for retailers and with the second national lockdown forcing physical stores to close once again, online demand has continued to soar and many e-commerce businesses expect this year’s Christmas peak to be more significant than ever before.
The pandemic has transformed how, when and where we shop and with more competition and rapidly changing consumer behaviour, businesses can’t just rely on the sales flooding in. However, with careful planning and preparation for what could be the biggest online shopping period to date, the rewards for those that get it right could be huge.
Are UK consumers shopping differently this year?
In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s clear that Christmas this year will be very different, and e-commerce businesses have to consider what the ‘new normal’ for consumers will look like.
A report published by Fresh Relevance found that whilst 2020 has seen an enormous shift to online, the factors that will drive purchase decisions remain consistent with what we have come to expect. Value for money and discounts are still the key drivers, but crucially this year many said health and safety was also a key factor, with 30% of people stating that ‘keeping myself healthy and safe’ was an important consideration when it came to shopping.
On top of this, data from Google found that more consumers were looking to support local businesses this year with searches for ‘support local businesses’ growing globally by more than 2,000 per cent year on year. This is further evidence that the opportunity for SME’s in the e-commerce sector is huge this year.
What can e-commerce businesses do to prepare?
The coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to shift their services online, and a study from Toluna found that four in 10 consumers plan to do their shopping online this year. For many retailers, this may be their first experience of the online Christmas shopping boom. That combined with the uncertain economic landscape and ever-changing coronavirus restrictions mean businesses are facing greater challenges than ever before.
However, there are steps that businesses can take to better prepare for this year’s festive period and ensure they have a consumer-driven approach. These include;
- Consider the factors that will drive purchase decisions
The same report from Fresh Relevance explored the different factors that will and won’t drive purchase decisions this year, and the findings reveal a lot. The factors that drive purchase decisions included value for money, convenience and ease of shopping, and being able to get the exact products wanted. While factors such as buying from sustainable companies and maintaining Christmas traditions weren’t concerns for consumers.
By understanding and considering what is important to consumers, your business will not only have a competitive edge but will also be more likely to turn first time buyers into loyal customers.
- Utilise real-time data and insights
One thing that we can be sure on, is that nothing is really certain this year. Things continue to change each day and therefore utilising real-time data and insights will be key. Taking advantage of the data that is readily available, such a Google Trends, as well as understanding your website’s own analytics, is a great way to understand what is and isn’t important to customers.
- Invest in your best sellers
By looking at your businesses historical sales and website data, you should be able to easily identify which items are your best-sellers and exactly what your website visitors are searching for. Investing in additional stock and promoting these items through discounts during the busy Christmas period is a great way to increase website traffic, and more importantly, increase conversions. It’s a really simple and effective way to bring in more sales, but it’s often overlooked by retailers.
- Understand the importance of creating a good customer experience
The Christmas shopping period also presents an opportunity to build a new and loyal customer base, which will be an important tool to help your business continue to grow into the new year. But the key to this will be ensuring customers have a positive shopping experience. Website useability, delivery costs, convenience and return policies all play a role in how positive a customer deems their experience to be.
With a Capify e-commerce loan, you could raise between £5,000-£500,000 to help fund your growth plans. Unlike traditional finance, our loan repayments are small and manageable to give you more flexibility.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of a Capify e-commerce business loan, then visit our e-commerce finance page here, or simply get in touch today.