The holiday season doesn’t only bring excitement and cheer; it brings changes to the retail landscape as well.
The holidays also affect e-commerce businesses to varying degrees: some businesses experience a spike in transactions while others experience a slowdown. In either case, understanding how the holidays affect businesses will help merchants to be prepared so that they can help their business operations withstand the challenges through the season.
Without a timely and effective “holiday” plan in place, the chances of merchants not reaching their revenue goals this season is high, especially given the current market conditions.
Shopping is inevitable as consumers often tend to prioritize gift-sharing during the Christmas holiday. With over 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide, the value of online sales is on an upward trajectory.
This growth is fueled by several factors, including fewer barriers to entry for merchants, an uptick in mobile phone usage, the growth of social media, and the increasing popularity of subscription services.
The purchasing power of consumers however may change the way they spend money this holiday season. In Nigeria the inflation rate accelerated to 21.09 percent in October 2022 and is the highest in 17 years.
This has led to a spike in the prices of goods and services in the nation. In addition, a recent report showed that 51 percent of holiday shoppers said inflation would impact their purchases, with many choosing to buy fewer but more thoughtful gifts at discounted prices.
A consumer’s range of choices when shopping has never been more significant than it is now. Although the strategies implemented by businesses vary, the following can be applied across board:
Utilise a multi-channel approach: As the e-commerce landscape evolves, consumers now have access to more shopping platform options such as buying directly from a brand’s website, instant messaging apps or even on social media. Consumers will always gravitate towards brands that provide the best customer experience with the highest level of convenience to them.
However, convenience isn’t always utilising the same channel; sometimes it involves having multiple channels that offer the same value and standards to reach your target audience. Such channels may include messenger apps, social media and so much more.
Be more flexible: There’s never been a better time than the holiday rush for businesses to take a more customer-centric approach. Offering value add services like free deliveries and returns, pre-orders and early bird discount promotions can make all the difference in whether a website visitor turns into a returning customer. Recent reports show that retailers and brands are being challenged to evolve at a rapidly accelerating pace, placing priority on the areas that promise the greater return from today’s consumer.
System optimisation: As we shift into what is considered the most important and profitable time of the year, a crucial part of an online merchants’ strategy must include optimizing their e-commerce storefronts for a better customer shopping experience. This involves improving their online store to increase customer engagement, user experience, and conversions. Why? Because consumers are becoming more selective with their purchasing decisions.
Taking measures such as reducing the steps a buyer will take to complete a purchase, updating the visualisation on the product pages, increasing the security protocol, and integrating an easier checkout experience can optimise your e-commerce website to better handle traffic surges during this period. For instance, the last thing a customer doesn’t want to see is their payment of choice not being available at check-out.
A study across more than 2,000 consumers — and across several personas including “loyal” customers and “deal chasers,” showed that more than 80 percent of all shoppers said that the ability to use their preferred payment methods was among the most important features at checkout.
Now more than ever, the most important values that a business can offer its customers are: meeting their needs, personalisation, speed, and simplicity.
With a payment solutions provider like Unlimint, who offers multiple payment methods accessible across the globe and a constantly evolving platform, businesses can successfully enter new markets.
This is done by making it easier for their customers to transact however they would want to and whenever they want to, because how a customer chooses to pay is just as important as what they buy this season.
.Goott is a director for Africa and India Unlimint