With holiday lights flickering and jingle bells jingling, it can only mean one thing: time to gear up for the biggest shopping season of the year. eMarketer, in a new report, forecasts that the 2019 holiday season will be the first in which retail sales will pass $1 trillion, rising 3.8% over last year.

According to the eMarketer report, ecommerce will account for 13.4% of total holiday retail sales in 2019, and while mobile sales may only account for 6.4%, it’s still the fastest growing shopping channel. Brick-and-mortar will be the driving force behind holiday shopping, making up 86.6% of sales. 

But that doesn’t mean online and mobile channels won’t influence sales in other ways. According to a recent study by PYMNTS, nearly half of consumers who own smartphones use them while shopping, mainly to access in-app discounts and to research product information.

Clearly, the way people shop today blurs the lines between the physical and digital, which is why it’s so important to shore up your omnichannel strategy now to capitalize on holiday sales.

What is omnichannel?

Omnichannel engagement integrates marketing, purchasing, and payment throughout the consideration and sales cycles to provide a fully cohesive shopping experience.An omnichannel approach means that the customer experience is seamless — on your website, on a mobile device, or in-store.

According to one recent survey, an omnichannel strategy results in a 90% higher customer retention rate and a 250% higher purchase rate. So, with the holiday shopping season on the horizon, here are a few ways to get your omnichannel game in gear.

Personalize offers.

Price drives sales, and with 59% of US smartphone shoppers using their phones in stores to comparison shop or search for deals and coupons, a personalized offer can make or break a sale. 

Make use of a robust omnichannel loyalty program — one that requires a logged-in approach to let shoppers earn points and redeem rewards via your app, website, and POS — to engage with customers in a meaningful way. Send mobile coupons at just the right moment, or target marketing campaigns with just the right message.

Make it convenient.

If you truly want to turn online browsers into in-store buyers, you’ll need to ease the path to purchase. Perhaps an indication for 2019, a study issued in December 2018 indicated that a full 40% of holiday shoppers waited until the week before Christmas to purchase gifts.
Be sure to provide visibility into in-store inventory on your website and mobile app so that customers know where to go to get what they need at the last minute.

Offering in-store pickup for online purchases is another way to offer omnichannel convenience to your customers. Not only can shoppers avoid delivery fees and long shipping times; they can avoid the lines at the busiest time of year.

Integrate your social channels.

According to Sprout Social in a recent blog post, Facebook messages sent to retailers rose by 55% during the holiday season last year. Be sure to meet customers where they are and offer quality service directly through your social accounts to build customer satisfaction across channels. Solid customer service via social will not only boost repeat customer rates; it creates an opportunity for shoppers to share their positive experiences on their own social accounts.

Since many shoppers are turning to social media to research products and get personal reviews, make it easy for them to shop directly on your social channels. Set up social shops on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to offer another avenue to purchase and to promote your products at the same time. You can also add links to your website and mobile app to make it easy for ecommerce shoppers to share what they’ve bought.

Interacting with your customers on all channels is a no-brainer, but it’s in integrating those channels where some brands stumble. Make use of a true omnichannel strategy to offer unrivaled personalization and convenience, and you’re sure to see the payoff in terms of sales this season.

Want to learn more about creating an omnichannel marketing strategy? Contact us at info@taptica.com.