It is not too soon for retailers and e-tailers to prepare for the upcoming “competitive holiday shopping season.” In a blog on its site, Salesforce says that while last year retailers were worried about “increasing profitability in a challenging economy,” this year the focus will be on “keeping loyal customers happy.”
This is important because Salesforce reports that it’s getting more expensive to attract new customers—and marketing budgets are shrinking, making existing customers all the more valuable. And, Salesforce says, “Since existing customers drive most of retailers’ revenue, keeping them satisfied this season should be a top priority.”
When they’re shopping, pricing and value are important considerations for consumers—82% look for coupons before making a purchase, and “66% expect companies to understand (and meet) their unique needs and expectations.”
And according to the blog, “Customer loyalty is on the rise.” Salesforce expects repeat buyers will be responsible for more the one-third of holiday orders this year.
The Salesforce blog shares five holiday shopping predictions for 2023.
Holiday shopping predictions
1. Digital sales will be influenced by generative and predictive AI
Salesforce research shows that “17% of consumers have already used GPT for product research and inspiration, and 10% will likely use it to help build their holiday shopping lists.” Since generative AI uses human prompts, Salesforce expects retailers will use customer data to personalize the shopping experience.
Salesforce predicts: AI “will influence $194 billion in global online holiday shopping spend.”
2. The returns experience impacts sales
In 2022’s holiday shopping season, returns increased by 12%. To reduce this number, Salesforce recommends that your sales policy be:
Salesforce predicts: Poor returns experiences "will put 21% of online orders at risk.”
3. BOPIS still matters
Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) became wildly popular in 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. According to Salesforce research, 39% of shoppers look for retailers that offer a BOPIS option.
Last holiday shopping season, 20% of online orders “were fulfilled via BOPIS, surging [to 33%] after the shipping cutoff dates.” And Salesforce adds, “41% of shoppers are more likely than a year ago to buy after they browse online for inventory available in physical locations.”
To execute BOPIS properly, you should invest in training your employees and the right tools. But it’s worth it—Salesforce research shows businesses that offered BOPIS grew their online revenue seven times faster than brick-and-mortar stores that didn’t provide it.
Salesforce predicts: "BOPIS will drive $28 billion in incremental global store sales when customers pick up their online orders."
4. The best ROI will come from social media ads
Consumers increasingly rely on social media in their shoppers’ journeys. Traffic referrals from social channels were up 27% year-over-year in Q1 of 2023.
And now, social is impacting in-store behavior as well. According to Salesforce research, “In the past three months, more than half of consumers reported going to a physical store to see or buy products they discovered on their social feeds."
While influencers previously “drove the bulk of social engagement,” Salesforce research shows influencer impact is lessening and that “shoppers are nearly twice as likely to buy a product if it was advertised in their social feeds than if they saw an influencer promote it.” In addition, half of shoppers “are more likely to visit a retailer’s website after seeing a social media ad, compared to 39% of shoppers who receive a promotional email.”
Salesforce predicts: "Social media advertising will drive 10 times more online holiday shopping visits than traditional marketing."
5. Resale sales continue to rise
Consumers are embracing the resale market because it saves them money and helps the environment. The online resale phenomenon started with eBay and now encompasses numerous online marketplaces.
Now, reports Salesforce, “Brands and retailers are reselling their used merchandise from existing customers.” After a customer trades in a product, “they’re encouraged to buy a new item—creating stickiness with the brand.” This encourages customers to return to the website, which may lead to additional purchases.
The recent trend for buying resale merchandise was fueled by millennials and Generation Z, who wanted “to save money, be more sustainable, and get products faster.” And over one-third of consumers plan to buy a used item for someone else in the next six months.
Salesforce predicts: "17% of gifts this holiday season will be resold items, saving 32 billion pounds of additional waste in landfills."
Tips for retaining customers at the holidays
Since customer retention is so important for retailers and e-tailers, here are some ways to do that:
It's not too early to plan your holiday marketing strategy
Now is the time to develop your holiday sales strategy. The first step is understanding what your customers want, like, and their purchase history. Start with the information you have: your customer data. Use marketing automation tools and AI to learn more.
By taking the time to understand your customers and use their data to create personalized experiences, you can significantly improve customer retention during the holiday season and beyond.
Image Credit: Pexels.com | Photo by Jill Wellington
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