The holidays are just around the corner, which means brands and retailers are ramping up for the busiest shopping season of the year. Getting in on the action can reap huge results: In 2022, holiday retail sales in the US are set to hit $1.3 billion, which is a 3.3.% increase from 2021.
But the mad clamor for customers can leave some brands high and dry if they don’t deliver the right message or provide a stellar experience. Here’s the thing: While there’s a huge opportunity to attract new shoppers, you’re also up against fierce competition from brands offering cut-throat prices and mega discounts.
Instead of indulging in a race to the bottom, the goal should be to create engaging customer experiences that keep your brand memorable long after the snow has melted.
So, with an increase in traffic, the promise of new customers, and the chance to win out against competitors, how can you maximize the influx of shoppers before, during, and after the holiday shopping extravaganza?
Shopping online is inherently different from shopping in-store. Customers can quickly flit from one site to another and they are far more fickle with their brand choices. If one store doesn’t have what they’re looking for or they can’t find it, they’ll have no problems jumping ship.
Keeping shoppers on-site and engaged is critical to holiday season success. But it’s near-on impossible to do this for each and every new shopper that comes to your store.
This is where AI-guided shopping comes into play. Automated conversations, answers to in-the-moment questions, and personalized experiences recreate the in-store experience and ensure shoppers stick around for longer to find what they’re looking for. This isn’t just critical for converting new shoppers–it’s also crucial for retaining new shoppers who found out about you during the Black Friday Cyber Monday sales.
So how can you secure the attention of fickle shoppers and ensure they stay on your site and continue to buy from your brand during the holiday season and when it’s over?
84% of online shoppers say that personalization influences their purchase decisions. 41% are even willing to share their personal information to get a more personalized experience, while 88% are more likely to continue shopping with a retailer that provides a personalized experience.
Think about it: if a shopper comes to your store during the flurry of holiday sales and you serve them a generic promotion for an item they don’t need, there’s a good chance they’ll go elsewhere.
But if you serve them a promotion based on their interests and past purchases (if they’ve bought from you before), they’re far more likely to convert and come back.
How to provide personalized product recommendations:
Use an AI tool like Rep to guide shoppers on their own personalized journey. Ask relevant questions to get to the crux of what they’re looking for and recommend relevant products based on their answers.
Traffic can spike dramatically during the season as deal-hungry shoppers click through from ads, social media, and email marketing campaigns. But if you don’t deliver in the first few seconds, they might go elsewhere.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you’re selling. It might mean they can’t find what they’re looking for, or the ad they clicked on hasn’t taken them to the right page, or they got distracted while comparing prices with another brand.
Either way, your aim should be to re-engage customers whose attention spans are waning.
Fresh Roasted Coffee asks shoppers questions about what they’re looking for so it can serve highly-targeted product suggestions.
How to identify disengaged customers:
Rep uses powerful AI to detect when a shopper is about to leave your site and jumps in to offer real-time assistance. It can determine exactly when a visitor is about to jump ship and serves a pop-up that digs deeper into their wants and needs.
If a customer has hesitations, the tool can provide reassurance in the form of FAQs, customer reviews, and additional supporting content.
When a shopper goes to a brick-and-mortar store, they are often greeted by a real-life sales associate who engages them in conversation about their purchases. This isn’t the case online, which is why it’s so easy for customers to jump ship–it’s much harder to ignore a real person standing in front of you and walk out of a store mid-sentence.
AI-guided shopping can replicate this part of the in-store shopping experience by engaging visitors in a conversation based on their unique wants and needs.
How to engage shoppers through contextual conversations:
Rep gives customers the chance to choose their journey. Ask them questions to discover more about what they’re looking for, direct them to relevant content, like blog posts and customer reviews, and answer purchasing questions. These conversations will keep customers engaged while also gently guiding them toward a purchase.
Input different outcomes based on where a customer is in the buying journey. For example, if someone has just discovered your brand and needs more convincing, your Rep sales associate can share past customer reviews. Or, if they’re ready and raring to purchase and just need to find the right product, Rep can direct them to the most relevant product pages.
Herbaly redirects shoppers to relevant product pages and, when they’re there, invites them to ask questions and learn more about the product through automated conversations.
Customer behavior during the holiday season is an exaggerated version of customer behavior throughout the rest of the year. Shoppers often have a purpose, a higher budget, and are on the hunt for the best deal.
The key to retaining first-time shoppers during the holiday season is to understand their behavior–why did they buy from you? What products did they show the most interest in? How did they navigate around your site?
This information will help fuel your future marketing and communication efforts to make sure you turn one-off holiday shoppers into long-term loyal customers.
How to understand customer behavior patterns:
Rep tracks user behavior across your site. It monitors the conversations it has with shoppers, what products they’re most interested in and the common questions they have. This gives you a better understanding of who your customers are and what they need from you moving forward.
The ability to detect disengaged customers means you can learn more about why shoppers navigate away from your site and put tactics in place to stop this from happening in the future.
It’s easy for brands to forget that each shopper is a unique individual during the holiday season when they’re wrapped up in getting as many site visitors as possible. But, for your holiday season campaigns to work, it’s important to make sure every shopper feels special and valued.
This means providing unique and relevant customer experiences for each shopper–something that is basically impossible to do manually at scale. An AI-guided shopping experience treats each customer as the unique individual they are by tapping into their pain points and delivering solutions based on their questions, hesitations, and objections.
How to deliver slick customer experiences:
Holiday season shoppers won’t wait around to get the answers they want. Rep’s AI-powered sales associate can target shoppers at the right time with the right content. It can answer pre-purchase questions in seconds, deliver personalized product suggestions to drive more sales, and continue to provide an excellent customer experience after a shopper has made a purchase through order updates and post-purchase FAQs.
Herbaly goes on to tackle objections and friction in the buying journey by offering people who are on-the-fence content like customer reviews and benefits.
There’s no doubt about it: The holiday season is a great opportunity to attract new customers and delight existing ones. But the competition is fierce and you have seconds to make an impression. Make the most of new traffic by incorporating AI-guided shopping into your holiday campaigns to answer customer questions, provide personalized experiences, and deliver enjoyable customer journeys for each individual shopper.