Wrapping Gifts


Messaging: A Gift to E-commerce Businesses this Holiday Season

September 13, 2022

The holiday season is right around the corner, and for e-commerce companies, that represents a huge opportunity to take advantage of one of the most significant, highest revenue-generating periods of the year. But as any e-commerce leader will tell you, that’s easier said than done. In this post, we’ll explore the ways in which you can capitalize on the benefits of messaging this holiday season to help drive success and connect with customers all year round.

Capitalizing on seasonality as an e-commerce business depends a great deal on where, when and how you already connect with your customers. Ensuring you and your customers have a successful holiday season will depend on a few critical factors within your marketing strategy including identifying the appropriate channels to amplify your communication efforts, timing of when your messaging hits the market and how you will entice and delight customers through the purchasing process. If email and traditional channels aren’t driving the engagement you need, we’ve got some good news: Messaging is a great way to connect with consumers where they already are. In fact, if you're embracing the right approach to business messaging best practices, the holiday season is a great time to use messaging to share relevant and timely promotions, alerts related to new products, give special access to VIP customers, and more

Tackling e-commerce challenges head-on

Before we go any further, it’s worth calling out that this holiday season will certainly be rife with challenges for e-commerce businesses. After all, the market continues to face challenges related to competition, resourcing, and demand. Fortunately, turbulence creates opportunities for success and messaging has the potential to help e-commerce companies mitigate the effect of the following challenges:

  1. Staggering resource shortages: What does a lack of resources or a continued labor shortage mean for your business? It potentially means longer wait times for customers, order errors, damage to your brand reputation and, of course, a potential loss of revenue. But messaging can help here, too, by streamlining some of your operational processes making it easier to connect with customers. We’ll dig into this later on.
  2. Traditional marketing channel clutter: Customers are constantly being bombarded with ads, emails and holiday catalogs. And let’s be honest, most marketing emails end up in a customer's spam folder. Messaging, on the other hand, has the potential to meet them exactly where they are via mobile devices. The data doesn’t lie: Almost two-thirds of consumers surveyed in 2021 say they prefer messaging as a means of communicating with a business.1
  3. Keeping up with customer expectations: Improving the customer care experience is the fastest growing priority for leaders.2 With a growing business comes a growing customer base and challenges such as higher call volumes, digital solutions that aren't one size fits all and higher customer expectations.

Leveraging messaging can help mitigate these challenges and potentially even turn them into opportunities for engagement and customer care moments.

Let’s dig into the opportunities the holiday season brings for your bottom line and how enterprise business messaging can add value to your overall customer experience.

With great opportunity comes great challenges this holiday season

E-commerce businesses face increasing competition and potentially dwindling consumer attention spans during the holiday season. What’s more, stores are often packed with busy shoppers, leading to lines, disorganized inventory, and usually, high expectations. But the holidays also provide a fruitful opportunity for e-commerce businesses to make it easier for shoppers and, in turn, potentially boost end of year sales, among other outcomes. So, where and how does messaging help save the day? Keep reading to find out.

Timing is everything

Last year, e-commerce sales increased by 11% and that number is projected to grow based on the accelerated shift consumers have taken to digital platforms and current shopping behavior.3 These trends present a huge opportunity for your business and a messaging strategy but when and where you meet your customers will play a huge part in whether or not you end your fiscal year on a high note.

During the holiday season last year, marketing efforts began for “Black Friday" in mid-October and we suspect that proactive trend will continue this year to beat shipping and labor shortage challenges.4 But, as we mentioned, turbulence creates opportunities for success. Businesses should embrace messaging solutions that allow them to provide channels for outreach, support, and other personalized experiences.

→ Tip: Offer early shopping access to VIP customers. Supply chain challenges will likely carry through the holiday shopping season. Use messaging to proactively reach out to your customers with the products you anticipate will sell out quickly so they can get a head start on their purchasing journey.

→ Tip: Take advantage of personalized, curated product collections. Reach out to your customer and share a tailored list of products based on their interests. Accelerate the customer journey and provide potential “gift bundle” options all through messaging outreach. Do the hard work up front for customers so they don’t have to, and you’ll potentially stand out.

Woman Shopping

Optimize the journey to purchase

During the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to make sure your website is optimized for ease of mobile browsing, and ultimately, ready for purchases. This is particularly true if you’re investing heavily in digital ads to drive traffic to your site. A challenging customer journey filled with long page load times, difficult navigation or confusing copy can result in loss of revenue and potentially customers who will not return.

But what exactly does a loss of potential customers look like? Let’s go over some of the numbers:

On average, 85% of people globally are shopping online which means coupled with a strong messaging strategy your business has the opportunity to acquire new customers.5 Take into account that a staggering 80% of adults surveyed say that messaging is an easy way to communicate with businesses and you have the recipe for a successful holiday marketing strategy.6 So make it easy for people to connect with you. Have your business social and promo ads redirect to your preferred message platform, allowing shoppers to gain access to assistance without having to send an email or call a help desk. Messaging makes conversations with customers easy.

→ Tip: Allow for easy access to customer support. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on hold for extended periods of time or waiting days for an email response when you need to get in touch with a business, especially around the holidays. Messaging is a great way to offer customer support in real time. Cultivate clear and concise conversations through messaging and take away some of the potential anxiety that comes with holiday shopping.

→ Tip: Make shopping easy -a win for you and your customer. No one wants to spend hours sifting through lengthy product pages with inaccurate inventory counts and product descriptions that confuse buyers instead of compelling them to purchase. Messages have a 98% open rate - reach customers faster and help drive purchases through the finish line making it a happy holiday season for you and them.7

Give the gift that keeps on giving: Exceptional customer service

Holiday shopping comes with excitement and joy. But it can also introduce stress and anxiety due to out of stock products, unpredictable delivery estimates, and unresponsive help desks.

But here’s where messaging really shines as a solution: You can build and launch automated customer care flows to route people to the frequently asked questions, the right resources, or escalate support issues, all via conversational messaging. Your business could see up to a 90% decrease in response time, giving your employees more time to focus on work that is truly impactful.

→ Tip: Want to track your order? One of the biggest ways your business can remain top of mind during the holiday season is to elevate your customer service. In 2020, 68% of customers' surveyed that their purchases were influenced by estimated delivery times.8 Couple that information with the fact that 70% of respondents said they would not make a repeat purchase from a business that did not clearly communicate shipping delays and you have a recipe for a holiday disaster.9 Provide more information around shipping estimates, delays and costs through messaging in half the time like Australian fitness brand, Women’s Best, and keep your customers up to date and at ease with when and where they will receive their products.

→ Tip: Last call! When time is of the essence, as it usually is at the end of the year, your business will want to make it a priority to make every purchase process seamless to get the most out of holiday sales. VIP promos and last chance sales are always exciting events for customers. Two-way messaging is a great opportunity to offer customers access to exclusive sales, new products and limited edition items. Last call promo messaging also creates a sense of urgency within your customer base that can help push sales over the finish line.

Woman Looking at Phone

Returns and exchanges

In 2020, the National Federation of Retail estimated the costs of holiday returns to be $101B. That number increased significantly in 2022 in which $120B worth of goods were returned between Thanksgiving and January 2022.10 The return and exchange process is a big part of your business relationship with customers. This process is even more important during the holidays because you have the opportunity to execute a smooth return/exchange process and increase customer loyalty. How can you make this process less painful? A strong messaging strategy will allow you to communicate directly with customers and keep them informed every step of the way.

→ Tip: Post-purchase, how do I initiate a return/exchange? Messaging can easily guide a customer through the return/exchange process. If a customer cannot identify what the return/exchange process is, if they will receive store credit or money back, what the time frame is for returns, etc. they are less likely to come back and make another purchase. Connect with customers directly to guide them through this tedious process and while you're at it, offer them the option of an exchange versus a return - a win for you both.

→ Tip: Want to track your order? Watching a purchase move in real time from a warehouse to a customers front door has become part of the purchasing process. The tracking process builds excitement and anticipation if done well. Tracking notifications also have an open rate between 50-80% which means customers want to know where their items are and when.11 During the holidays when shipping can be delayed or when you want to make sure a package is arriving at the correct address, tracking messages are especially helpful.

The holiday season is right around the corner

The holiday season is approaching rapidly providing a chance for your e-commerce business to scale customer communications and marketing efforts with messaging. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about what type of messaging strategy will put you in front of your customers and competitors. Create a full funnel customer journey that incorporates messaging and supports your buyer through every step from discovery to post-purchase. Whether a customer is taking advantage of this holiday season's sales and buying for themself or someone else- the experience is something they will never forget.

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