5 Tips to Get Ready For an Unpredictable Shopping Season

This 2021 guest blog by iQmetrix partner PayBright has been updated. 

In our previous post on holiday preparedness, we talked about the complex impacts of inflation, supply chain problems, and economic downturn on both businesses and consumers. And while it’s true that consumers are planning to spend less this holiday season, one bright spot is analyst projections for a significant increase in holiday eCommerce sales. This means that growth opportunities still exist for retailers that make serious investments in online customer experience.

With peak retail season fast approaching, what should your business be prioritizing in order to come out on top this holiday shopping season?

1. Check your stock and your supply chain

Make it a point to know your inventory inside-out before the holidays hit. Disappointed shoppers mean lost sales, and knowing exactly what your stock room looks like will enable sales staff to create great customer experiences by meeting or exceeding customer expectations. 

With supply chain and shipping disruptions expected to continue into 2023, it’s also vital to perform a thorough health check on your supply chain so you can be prepared for any potential delays. Communicate with your suppliers regularly to identify any risks.

2. Optimize and customer-proof your website

Website improvements can be a daunting prospect going into the holidays, but investing effort now will have big impacts later on customer experience. The must-haves to prioritize:

  • Website load speed and navigation: If your website is too sluggish, confusing, or leads to too many 404 pages, you may be setting yourself up to lose your biggest-spending customers to your better-equipped competitors. Optimize image sizes on slow-loading pages, and remove dead-end links so customers can always find what they’re looking for.
  • Product pages: Are your product descriptions complete, clear, compelling, and error-free? Are tech specs and details easy to find? Customers should be able to view all information in one place so they can finish their research before completing a purchase.

    Similarly, are your product photos the best they can be? Do they show all color options for all devices?
  • Inventory status: Does your inventory show the real-time status of products and online visitors? Add an​“Only X number left” to high-demand items or include an​“X number of people are looking at this now” feature to create urgency.
  • Unifying online and in-store experience: do you have omnichannel offerings to connect e-commerce and in-store experiences, such as curbside pickup and queue management?

If all of that is in order, then consider adding customer reviews and clear and up-to-date return and exchange policies:

  • According to Trustpilot, over 88% of consumers trust online reviews when they want to make informed purchases. And the purchase likelihood for a product with just five reviews is 270% greater than one without.
  • 72% of consumers said they’d spend more and buy more often with merchants that make the return experience as simple as possible, with 89% of repeat customers saying they would buy again if they had a solid return experience.

3. Get a handle on your shipping

Do your homework now to ensure you’re working with the most reliable company with a few potential delays as possible. Additionally, be sure to avoid the wrath of unhappy customers by posting clear order deadlines on your home page to manage expectations. For example:​“Order by December 1 to ensure delivery by December 24.”

4. Promote gift cards

In a year when inventory and supply chains are uncertain, gift cards have never been more attractive. Make gift cards a destination on your website by adding a prominent​‘gift card’ tab on your home page that makes it easy to purchase and give.

5. Offer payment plans

The holiday season can be a financially fraught time. Alleviate the monetary burden for your customers by providing flexible payment plans. With tightening household budgets, holiday shoppers want to avoid breaking the bank. Buy now and pay later will give customers on a budget options for making important holiday purchases.

iQmetrix integrated partner PayBright offers two basic BNPL plans, neither of which will impact your customers’ credit scores:

  • Pay in 4: Customers get instant approval and make four, interest-free biweekly payments for their purchase.
  • Pay monthly: Customers enter a few fields of information for approval and make monthly payments for their purchases.

What’s in it for you? Better sales conversion, a higher average order value, more repeat customers, and no risk (you get paid upfront).

Telling your customers that you offer PayBright early in their shopping journey — which begins well before checkout — can make all the difference. Promoting the option to buy with PayBright on product display pages, email campaigns, or banner ads has proven effective for many PayBright partners.

Adding PayBright at checkout can also give your business a competitive advantage while providing customers with a more manageable way to shop for the holidays. Providing a customer’s payment breakdown alongside the total purchase price helps drive conversion as consumers know they can break up the cost.

For more information on supporting your customers and their changing needs, explore what PayBright has to offer.