Almost one-quarter of US online adults expect to spend more for the 2022 holiday season than they did in 2021, per Forrester’s October 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. Another 45% expect to spend about the same amount again, while the remaining 21% expect their spending to decrease. With online retail holiday sales expected to grow at a faster rate than overall retail holiday sales, retailers must ensure that their sites are set up for success.
Tune Up Value-Add Website Features For Your Online Shopper …
One of the hardest parts of online shopping is the inability to physically see a product before purchasing it. To equip customers with the tools for a positive online shopping experience, retailers should:
- Improve imagery to ensure that customers know what they’re getting. One in five US consumers plan to avoid in-store shopping this holiday season, per Forrester’s October 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. To boost consumers’ confidence when they’re shopping online, use high-resolution images; include images for all options, if the item comes in multiple sizes or colors; and add size comparisons to common objects. Depending on the product, take it a step further with the ability to view items through augmented reality (e.g., for cosmetics or home furnishings). Explore adding videos to the mix: 44% of US online adults say videos of products are an important feature for retail sites, Forrester’s February 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey shows. For example, ASOS includes videos of its models on most of its product detail pages.
- Elevate customer reviews for further reinforcement. If you can’t change imagery this late in the game, explore boosting your customer review section: 66% of US online adults think customer ratings and reviews are an important feature for a retailer to have on their site, per Forrester’s February 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. Sephora’s review section allows customers to filter by criteria such as beauty match (determined by self-provided info in your profile), customer rating, skin type and tone, shade of product used, age range, and content (if it includes photo or video or not). Other best practices include the ability to search reviews for keywords (e.g., “easy to use” or “fits true to size”).
- Make gifting easy to simplify the checkout process. We found that 44% of US online adults had items delivered to another person’s home during the 2021 winter holiday shopping season, per Forrester’s December 2021 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. Why? Some customers will opt for this option to send gifts to people they may not see in person during the holidays. Improve gifting features on your site by allowing customers to add gift receipts, gift wrap, or messages to their orders. Nordstrom customers can place personal and gift orders in one checkout (e.g., enter multiple fulfillment options and add gift wrap or messages only to designated items in an order).
… As Well As Your In-Store Customers
With one in five US online adults planning to shop more in stores during the 2022 holiday season, remember that they will still use your site. In 2021, 38% of total-year US offline retail sales were digitally influenced (i.e., purchases from consumers who research products online but then buy them at the store). To best serve your in-store customers online:
- Include in-store inventory available online to aid store visits. Three-quarters of US online adults think in-store product availability is an important feature for a retailer to have on the site, per Forrester’s February 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. Plus, one-quarter plan to check online for in-store inventory availability before going into stores to do their holiday shopping, according to Forrester’s October 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. For example, both Lowe’s and The Home Depot show exact inventory numbers for their in-store fulfillment options.
- Add details about in-store fulfillment options. Sixteen percent of US online adults plan to use in-store pickup more regularly this holiday season, and 12% say the same for curbside, per Forrester’s October 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. Additionally, half of online adults think it is important for retailers to include the ability to buy online and pick up in the store (BOPIS) on their sites, revealed Forrester’s February 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey. To make the BOPIS process easier, retailers such as Target allow customers to filter searches by in-store pickup availability at their selected store. Sephora and Tractor Supply Company have in-context help (i.e., they don’t bring customers to a new page) that outlines instructions and details for their fulfillment options.
To uncover more insights from our latest consumer surveys, stay tuned for more holiday-prep blog posts by many of our Forrester colleagues in the coming weeks!