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Winter is coming – is your eCommerce ready?

With less than 100 days to Christmas (sorry, yes, I know the kids have only just gone back and who knows if they’ll stay back), and less than 60 to Black Friday, it seems appropriate to examine the way Covid has already influenced shopper behaviour, what the predictions are for the immediate future of online retail and see what you can to do to ensure that a potentially damp squib of a day isn’t a damp squib of a seasonal sales period.

a quarter of shoppers hope to have finished their shopping before the start of December

First out of the gate

According to eBay’s Christmas Report, 27% of consumers surveyed are planning to start their Christmas shopping earlier than usual. And that’s not a huge surprise, given the strictures placed on a lot of people’s finances and the still uncertain employment future for many. There’s plenty of offers already out there to encourage buyers to part with their cash – in a socially distanced contactless way of course and it makes sense to spread that cost over a few extra weeks rather than risk falling short later. (I may have already started too, and I guarantee the bits I have purchased I will not be able to find come Christmas eve!) The report also notes that it is the younger generations who plan to start shopping earliest, if they haven’t already, and that a quarter of shoppers hope to have finished their shopping before the start of December. Not only that, but in an era of restricted movement and new hobbies, the report also suggests that more thought will be put into meaningful, useful, unusual and unique gift-giving.

Embracing change

It’s now a well-accepted fact that the pandemic has significantly shifted the way many consumers shop. Those who formerly eschewed online shopping have found it to be the only way to get their weekly groceries and other items needed to survive lockdown, and while a proportion will revert back to shopping in physical stores for some or all of their needs, a significant percentage have embraced the convenience, time-saving and protection that online shopping provides.

As for those already-savvy online consumers, BazaarVoice reports in Behaviour that sticks that 39% of global respondents said that they had purchased from new brands during lockdown that they’d previously not heard of, 83% of those would continue to buy from those newly discovered brands and 72% would continue to try to shop online from local and independent stores over big multiples and marketplaces.

Despite this trend to shop local, and despite consumer concerns regarding quality issues from marketplace sellers and the dominance of the retail behemoth, 95% of consumers admitted to buying from Amazon at least once during lockdown (note : I do not recommend looking at your own amazon account history to see how many you placed in the last 6 months. I did. I wish I hadn’t.) Wunderman Thompson’s Covid, Commerce and the Consumer report also shows a 5 percentage point increase in Amazon’s UK online shopping market share during the pandemic from 30% to 35%; a trend that is unlikely to be challenged.

Ahead of the curve

All this, bar the Amazon trend of course, is incredibly good news for independent retailers and those with a purely local client-base who have branched out into eCommerce during the pandemic, however there is still plenty you can do to usher those customers through the door rather than simply waiting for them to appear, and more you can do to ensure they come back again and again.

1  Advertising budget
If you haven’t already, it is probably worth looking to allocate some additional budget to your online advertising and looking carefully at your target audience and Christmas spending trends to see how best to tailor your ads, which channels to advertise on and when, and really dig deep for those specific and trending keywords.
Advertising budget

2   Nurturing
Make sure you have plans in place to show all your new-found customers some love. Don’t just put out campaigns to attract more new users but create specific incentives to encourage your new customers to make repeat purchases – you have their details, make use of them, personalise the messaging.

Fetchify client Moonpig, use their knowledge of important dates for their customers to offer special deals.



3   Recommendations and Reviews
If you don’t already have one, consider implementing a new reviews tool into your site and/or social media to help boost your trust scores and use this with impunity. Don’t just try to sell to your lockdown buyers, turn them into your brand advocates. Make sure you respond to both good and bad reviews with grace and, if appropriate, good humour. It’s the personal touches that matter. So do hashtags. #hashtagsmatter

Here’s how Fetchify client Protein World appeal to their existing customers to become their brand advocates. 

Winter is coming - referrals

4   Website readiness
Unsurprisingly, I am going to recommend that you install Fetchify’s address lookup and verification tool as a minimum. Not only does it make your customers route to purchase that much quicker and easier, but it also means fewer failed deliveries and customer service headaches for you. And per lookup it’s cheaper than a couple of Anadin to sort that headache before it happens!


5   Plan ahead
This cannot be stressed this enough. Christmas has the potential to be both amazing for business and disastrous. Don’t oversell yourself. Make sure you have stock capacity, shipping capacity and give yourself and your customers a realistic delivery cutoff to ensure pre-Christmas delivery. Having Fetchify on board in your site guarantees you have valid shipping addresses for each of your customers. Taking advantage of our free phone and email address verification until the end of the year also ensures you get clean contact data to be able increase your marketing engagement and support your customer service teams.

It’s also probably worth reading our Top 10 Tools to Optimise Basket Completion guide to make sure your website is ready for the busiest shopping period of the year

About Fetchify

We are a pioneer in SaaS address lookup and data validation solutions. We process millions of data transactions each day for thousands of clients ranging from small e-commerce startups to large household brands such as Heinz and RBS. Our flagship products Address Auto-Complete and Postcode Lookup reduce friction on checkouts, leading to increases in conversion rate of up to 40%, and helps reduce failed deliveries by as much as 75%. Since launching in 2008, we have differentiated by our ease of integration and exceptional support.