By Sarah Curran MBE, MD EMEA of True Fit
While we have not seen a market like this one before, no retailer can afford to blink; the ones that thrive in the next few years will be those that work hard to execute well in every channel. And there is already ample evidence that despite falling footfall and consumer confidence, there are plenty of companies doing well by tuning into their customers’ needs.
The best place to start with planning for peak is by looking at what we already know. Looking back, we know that consumers began their holiday shopping much earlier in 2021 than in 2020. This year, supply chain disruptions, cost of living increases, growing consumer privacy concerns and now the threat of a recession, have all contributed to rapidly changing consumer behaviour and will continue to shape behaviour as we enter the peak trading period.
For instance, digital window shopping in 2021 grew 37% on average over 2020 from September through the peak shopping season, proving that getting the offer right online is critical to conversion.
True Fit’s Fashion Genome, consisting of 17,000 brands, hundreds of retailers and 90 million active shoppers, observed that consumers began their holiday shopping much earlier than the year prior, up 10% in October over 2020. Due to worries that their orders might not arrive on time, shoppers did not wait for Black Friday or December deals to begin their Christmas shopping.
Giving shoppers the right tools to convert and be confident in their purchases will be the key to a successful Golden Quarter. Peak events present an opportunity to turn new traffic into loyal buyers by giving shoppers a great first experience. And a key tool is fit personalisation to enable customers to find, and keep, exactly what they are looking for.
Here are three techniques retailers can implement immediately to help succeed during peak. These are all fundamental activities that can easily be planned within the existing marketing infrastructure, and will demonstrate return quickly.
Protect and grow traffic
According to Wordstream, the average cost per click for search ads across all industries is £2.91 with fashion coming in at £2.19. Paid traffic gets high marks on conversion but also depends on good digital advertising to cement that conversion. When it comes to fashion, being able to personalise size and fit are key to conversion, particularly as shoppers may not be buying for themselves or are trying new brands they are not familiar with.
Drive marketing efficiency
To drive marketing efficiency, retailers must make it simple for shoppers to evaluate products on the product detail pages (PDP). This means giving them access to rich information including reviews, features, imagery, checkout options, shipping time estimates, return policies and most importantly for apparel retailers: size and fit guidance. This information will drive confidence for shoppers that leads to higher conversion and a lower cost of acquisition.
Use 1st party data
With cookies being phased out in 2024 and consumers being more savvy about protecting their privacy, it makes sense for retailers to focus more on freely-given 1st party data which reveals a rich picture of loyal shoppers if used effectively. Fit technology is just one source of earning 1st party data as it allows retailers to get to know buyer personas and their preferences.
1st party data is an essential tool for turning peak traffic into loyal, repeat shoppers. This starts by giving them a great first experience as the foundation for customer lifetime value and advocacy. The same data can help retailers set promotions that are relevant and personalised.
No one wants to pretend peak 2022 will be a bumper affair; inflation continues to rise, savings are falling and more disposable income is being spent on basic needs, not least domestic utilities. However, while these factors weigh heavily on some customer cohorts, income and employment remains high in others and retailers serving these cohorts well are still thriving.
However, in good or bad times, these techniques are fundamental to the operation of a successful, profitable ecommerce operation. Customers and their behaviours have changed for all time and there is no normal to go back to, so retailers will need to work harder to understand customers and their preferences so they can ride out the troughs and the peaks.