There are plenty of proven and reliable strategies for retail, fashion and beauty brands to employ to increase customer engagement, Revenue Per Visitor (RPV), conversions and revenues leading up to the 2018 holiday shopping season. Finding the right balance between strategies that deliver an uptick, as well as adding new strategies that will meet revenue goals is key, especially in an ever-evolving competitive e-commerce market. Not only do brands need to compete with, and stand out from, a lengthy list of other retailers, they also have to stay a step or two ahead of consumers who have come to expect an Instagram- and Pinterest-like customer experience.
Fashion and retail brands have plenty of reasons to invest in Black Friday campaigns. Taking a look at the 2017 holiday shopping season, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that holiday sales increased 5.3 percent from the previous year, totaling more than $687 billion. This marks the largest gain since 2010, after the end of the Great Recession, and includes $138.4 billion in online and other non-store sales which were up 11.5 percent from 2016. NRF is predicting another successful holiday season for retailers in 2018, expecting retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent and revenues to range between $717 billion to over $720 billion.
As both the fashion and retail industry continue to transform and evolve, most brands have come to the realization that in order to successfully execute a multichannel strategy, they must invest in the digital technologies and platforms that will help them to engage, acquire and retain customers—during the busy holiday shopping season and beyond.
Personalization versus Conversion Rate Optimization
A core difference between personalization and conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the addition of segmentation—targeting an experience towards an audience with a specific need or characteristic. We’ve found that by adding segmentation, personalization can be 3x more effective. Data for segmentation can be derived from:
- A website—people who shop for sales items, women shopping for men, etc.
- Other corners of your business – consumers who return items in-store, etc.
- Surveys or quizzes—for example, “What’s Your Style?”
In our 2017 research, “Getting 6% more,” our consumer survey found that 49% of people were happy to share their preferences with businesses who use the information to make the shopping experience better, with 57% revealing that their favorite retail websites already make efforts to personalize around their preferences and interests.
Now, let’s take a look at four strategies that you should consider adding to your 2018 holiday season campaign toolkit. One of the most important of the four tactics is consistency, so let’s start there:
Ensure consistency across channels
Nailing a multichannel experience is important for brand consistency, and fashion is no exception. Difficulties lie in connecting both the online and offline worlds (e.g. ensuring that an in-store “end of season sale” message is reflected on the website) and mirroring messaging across various digital channels.
Consider someone who has received an offer by email but chose not to follow the link immediately—instead they return to your site by directly typing in the search term. Clearly, you’d like them to see the offer they received by email, but if they didn’t click the referrer link, how do you make that happen?
This is where unifying the messaging across email, Facebook retargeting ads and the website, so that various offers are mirrored across all channels comes in handy. By leveraging existing data in a CRM database, all the lapsed customers who had been receiving promotions by email and through retargeting can be delivered the same offer code presented through other channels, regardless of whether they clicked on the same referrer link or not.
Increase revenues without steep discounts
We all love a discount. However, when consumers come to expect discounts it will be difficult to convince them to pay the full price the next time they shop. In fact, frequent price cuts reduces profitability and may attract only price-driven shoppers.
The optimal strategy is to drive sales without falling back on these measures, often by using scarcity, urgency, authority, social proof or any other psychological principles of persuasion. The more targeted these messages become, the greater their impact. A useful way to improve the accuracy of your targeting is to ask customers about their interests so you can become more persuasive with your personalization tactics further down the line.
For example, you could surface a survey that asks, “Which occasion are you shopping for?” Once a shopper made their selection, they entered a corresponding segment, and then received the most useful personalization tactics based on their responses. Say they’re shopping for a cocktail party: on category pages cocktail dresses are now badged as trending or low in stock—two tactics that are good for driving sales.
Building segments such as these allows a deeper level of analysis to understand the behavior of these segments— you might see that shoppers interested in wedding-related products have both higher order values and higher returns. With this data they’d be able to see which products are the highest converting for each segment and adapt their merchandising tactics accordingly.
In personalization terms, fighting abandonment is not a new tactic yet it’s still one of the most effective personalization strategies available to retailers. Our research found abandonment to be the fourth highest performing tactic, providing an average 1.1 percent increase in Revenue Per Visitor (RPV)—outperformed only by scarcity, social proof and urgency.
Abandonment isn’t always executed in a consumer-centric way though. Many brands are guilty of trying to collect an email or serve an offer at all costs, which may illicit some immediate results, but in the long term, can hurt deeper e-commerce metrics. These key points can ensure that abandonment is both well-timed and useful:
- Try to be as helpful as possible with abandonment tactics
- Trigger these tactics when a shopper is tempted to leave your site, rather than in the middle of their session
- For maximum effect, combine tactics such as scarcity or social proof into the abandonment message
Drive urgency and reduce returns with predictive sizing
With Amazon offering free delivery and free returns, the pressure is on for many retailers to follow suit. But when you’re potentially losing money on shipping, it’s paramount that you don’t have even more revenue at stake on returns.
Predictive sizing is one tactic that helps shoppers buy the right-sized garment in the first place. However, predicting someone’s size is a complicated (and sometimes sensitive) matter: Getting it wrong can have devastating effects on your brand image.
To get it right, use all the relevant data sources to predict someone’s size. This data comes in the form of browsing data, purchasing data and even previous returns data (both online and in-store). A few tips on how to successfully execute predictive sizing:
- Build a size profile for each shopper based on their past purchases
- If insufficient data is available across each category, make a prediction
- Deploy size-specific personalizations, such as pre-filtering and low stock alerts
Replenishment: not just for beauty brands
In the cosmetics industry, replenishment is a big deal, with repeat purchases happening as soon as 30 days after a purchase. In fashion, the need is not as frequent, but particularly in menswear, it does exist. We’re talking socks, underwear and essentials such as white, black and grey T-shirts.
What’s true of both moisturizers and T-shirts is that people wear them out at different rates. Therefore, the science of a successful replenishment strategy lies in being able to predict when someone is about to run out of something—until that point in time, the real estate on your website can be used to display different content and products.
Using historical data, specific staples in the menswear department were targeted for replenishment, including shirts, sweaters and linen shirts. When a return shopper who has bought one of these items comes to the site, a quick calculation is done to see how often they buy the product. If that data didn’t exist, the mean frequency of purchase across the whole site is used for that product. For multichannel brands, this is done by looking at both ecommerce and in-store datasets. If it’s time for new items, a personalization panel is deployed to show the items that are ready for repurchase.
Even during the hectic holiday season, the right personalization strategy and tactics can deliver on your business goals by drawing on granular data from browsing, offline shopping and CRM sources to deliver highly need-based experiences. The magic of personalization lies not only in the nature of the tactic, but potential combinations of multiple tactics and, most importantly, the audience to which the tactic has been focused.
The key to increasing RPV is to avoid using discounts when you don’t need to and ensuring shoppers find what they’re looking for in less time — especially when they’re looking for the perfect present. Herein lies the beauty of personalization—your site should never be all things to all people. It should present a smooth and coherent experience, finely tuned to the needs of individual shoppers.
Qubit provides personalization software to online retailers and brands.