A tsunami of online gift-shoppers is about to break.
More than two-thirds of holiday shoppers (71%) plan to do seasonal shopping online this year, up from 51% last year. And while 40% of shoppers have decreased household spending due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, more than 70% plan to spend the same on gifts in 2020 as they did in previous years.
With traffic and intent expected to rise this holiday season, brands and retailers are tasked with figuring out how to capture this momentum.
The key to increasing sales and delighting customers will be a tailored customer experience that makes finding the best gifts as effortless as possible.
Greater Convenience and Easier Decision-Making Are Top of Mind for Shoppers
For many people, in-store shopping has become a “no-no” out of fears of COVID-19. But, interestingly, the rising tide of online shopping is still largely being driven out of a desire for greater convenience.
Two out of three shoppers (69%) cited convenience as the top reason for shopping online, according to a CreditCards.com study. And although the risk of COVID-19 increases with age, Gen Z’ers were the generation most likely to give “avoiding human contact” as their main reason for avoiding in-person shopping.
Other priorities for eCommerce holiday shoppers this year are seizing better deals (46%) and finding bigger selections (44%).
At the same time, many shoppers (29%) say the sheer amount of choices available online contributes to gift-giving stress. For websites with large inventories, helping your site visitors avoid choice paralysis is integral to keeping them engaged and ultimately, converting them.
Brands & Retailers That Tailor Product Discovery for Gift-Buying Will Come Out on Top
Capturing the attention and intent of eCommerce shoppers on a mission to find the best gifts at the best prices requires an ideal customer experience. As we know, convenience, access to a wide selection of relevant items, and competitive deals are some of shoppers’ main priorities.
With this in mind, brands and retailers that proactively tweak their product discovery journies to enable an easier gift-buying experience will reap the benefits of higher conversion and greater sales.
4 Tips for Building the Ideal Customer Experience for Gift-Shoppers
Here are four ways to bolster your product discovery experience for shoppers on the hunt for holiday gifts.
1. Adjust your website navigation
An easy first step to enhancing your product discovery for gift-buying is making gift discovery a prominent part of your website navigation. For example, you can add a “Gifts” tab to your menu, which will then direct shoppers to popular items that make great gifts.
Another approach is to dedicate the space, text, and images on your homepage to inspiring gift-shoppers. As the holiday shopping season nears and consumers begin browsing, drawing their attention to your site as a gift shopping destination will be a crucial tactic.
2. Create personalized gift guides
An effective method for guiding gift-shoppers to the products that will make the best gifts is with a curated guide.
Sites like Amazon, Target, and Asos are long-time users of gift guides, which help shoppers narrow down their searches by selecting parameters such as gender, age, style, and interests.
In the example above, Farfetch offers a variety of guides, sorted by product type, popularity, as well as buyer preferences (i.e. “conscious gifts.”). By offering this kind of personalization, you can help relieve shoppers’ stress about choice overload and boost engagement while presenting them with relevant products that will make the perfect gift.
3. Embed visual search capabilities
Visual search offers unparalleled opportunities to inspire, engage, and nudge gift-shoppers toward purchase. With the ability to search for items using images instead of text, shoppers who know what their friends and family members love, but may not necessarily know what it’s called, can easily locate the right items.
In this example, Yestersen empowers site visitors to find exactly what they’re imaging by uploading a photo. Whether the photo comes from social media, an online news publication, or a user’s own camera, websites with visual search can identify individual objects within the image and recommend similar products.
For shoppers who don’t have a specific product in mind but are seeking some visual stimulation, image galleries such as the one above can generate inspiration and motivate shoppers to buy.
4. Offer “concierge” services
Provide an effective product discovery support at scale by offering concierge-level personalization. For shoppers who don’t have the patience or time to browse your site, offering them the chance to speak to a sales representative can be an effective way of introducing them to the products that will make the best gifts. It also helps restore the sense of tailored service and attention that most customers miss about in-store shopping.
In the example below, Kay Jewelers offers a live chat option as well as the opportunity to book a virtual appointment with a trusted jewelry consultant. In both, shoppers can ask questions, get advice, learn about products that other shoppers buy as gifts, and even see items via video.
Other sites choose to use chatbots to talk directly with shoppers. These bots can be great tools as long as they are equipped to actually understand what site visitors write and to provide valuable responses. Chatbots that have low-level NLP (natural language processing) capabilities and have a hard time deciphering what shoppers say will not only be unable to answer in a helpful way, but they will add new levels of frustration and friction to the customer experience.
Put Yourself in Gift-Shoppers’ Shoes
When considering how to revamp your product discovery strategy to boost holiday shopping sales, think about the features you’d find helpful as you do your own holiday shopping.
In most cases, combining elements like better web navigation, visual search, and chat options will be your best bet for providing the most personalized and attentive customer experience while introducing visitors to relevant products.