It’s that time of year again when brands and retailers work to find the best way to market a product to drive the greatest amount of sales during the holiday season. But this year is different: limited retail floor space combined with consumers’ demand for more information in real-time has presented an opportunity for brands to create a direct-to-consumer connection, one that can inspire greater brand loyalty and drive more sales.
But how can this be done? With their web sites.
Believe it or not, a brand’s web site has greater influence on sales and brand loyalty than most people think. When the web site is designed correctly — delivering a seamless integration of content, social interaction and commerce opportunities that customers look for — the potential to inspire greater loyalty, engagement and sales increases significantly.
Here are the top five ways brands can better leverage their web sites this holiday season to drive sales and increase the direct-to-consumer relationship.
1. Make it easy. Think about all the information a consumer needs when he or she considers a purchase. Whether it is product information, ratings, reviews, social generated content or a combination of these things, an effective web site allows consumers to find and digest information in a way that makes the most sense for them. Blending content with community (i.e. social interactions) to create a rich, immersive and informed shopping experience is extremely effective in building brand loyalty.
2. Make it fun. Remember: commerce is more than just driving consumers to complete transactions. Online interactions should be a rich and streamlined experience, offering consumers information, guidance and recommendations to help them make the right purchasing decision. And a big part of this is encouraging consumers to contribute to the discussion, whether it’s before, during or even after a purchase is made. This type of community-based experience can drive commerce and produce brand champions.
3. Go to where your customers are. There’s little surprise that consumers are using their mobile devices more frequently to complete various shopping tasks. In fact, digital marketing analyst firm eMarketer predicts mobile commerce will comprise 16% of digital holiday shopping this year. To reach these shoppers, brands’ web sites must accommodate mobile experiences, allowing consumers to easily move across channels or devices and still access the information they’re looking for in a consistent and easily navigable format.
4. Showrooming is an opportunity. Retailers may be concerned about showrooming, and ultimately losing their customers to a competitor, but from a brand’s perspective, showrooming can create more informed consumers. Web sites present the opportunity for brands to build a relationship directly with consumers, regardless of the location or channel where the brand’s product is purchased.
5. Own the two-way relationship. The reduction in retail floorspace has forced many retailers to change their brand relationships. Smart retailers are using information from brands’ web sites to inform consumers in-store as they’re searching for information in real time. This two-way relationship helps retailers close deals in their stores, while building brand loyalty. It’s a win-win.
Kelly O'Neill is the senior director of commerce for Acquia where she heads the company's commerce strategy. Previously, O’Neil was Senior Director of Product Strategy for Oracle Retail, leading the commerce and cross-channel product strategy and solution marketing activities for the business unit. She held a number of director-level roles at ATG, which was acquired by Oracle in 2011. O’Neil has more than a decade of experience in commerce and marketing and is a regular speaker at retail industry events like Oracle Retail Crosstalk, Shop.org and eTail.