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No Summer Holiday, Christmas is Coming!

No Summer Holiday, Christmas is Coming!

By Imran Choudhary, retail solutions specialist, Smarter Commerce, IBM

With Christmas planning in full steam for retailers, it's prudent to re-visit the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark UK Christmas Readiness report to freshen up on what to expect. Here are my own recommendations.

Mobile, growing to a record high of 37.2 percent of all sales last Christmas, will again dominate this coming season.

Average order value has remained flat at around £80 and number of items per order has dropped. This shows retailers must use data better to refine personalisation, create more engaging experiences and improve product recommendations - the latter being a proven and effective way of realising double digit growth in sales revenue.

Social still remains a challenge, with less than one percent of visitors arriving on websites from social channels, resulting in 0.1 percent of sales. But our last annual consumer survey revealed 43 percent of consumers post socially about retailers and 30 percent post about the purchase, creating a digital version of the old 'word of mouth'. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the rumoured addition of 'buy' functions to social sites and this is definitely something for the industry to keep a close eye on.

In February bounce rates reached a high of 30 percent, and in March average minutes spent on site hit a new low of 6:49. Beyond 'optimised for mobile', search and navigation, retailers need to deliver a personalised and rewarding shopping experience as the challenge with customer attention has never been greater.

As well as generating inspiring content, improving product recommendations and ensuring payment and fulfilment is covered, online retailers also need to analyse interactions from the user's perspective , to quickly fix design or usability problems which directly affect revenue.

Finally, omnichannel should always be at the heart of any retailer's strategy, regardless of the Christmas peak. Expect highs in click-and-collect, as consumers want to guarantee receipt of their items. Communication and delivering on promises will assure good service and future advocates, but retailers must also remember the basic cross-sell opportunity when the customer comes in to collect.

Retailers needs to dip into their large data pools to segment, interrogate past touch points, the consumer's behaviour online and offline, as well as wisdom of the crowds, to intelligently create recommendations and a personalised experience for the customer at the right time, right place, and right price.

Why not read the full fourth Annual UK Online Retail Christmas Readiness Report by clicking here.