Black Friday locked down: the offline customer experience goes online

There’s no doubt about it: Covid-19 has hugely accelerated the growth of ecommerce. One report by Adobe suggested that total online spending in May 2020 hit $82.5 billion, up 77% year-on-year

According to our data, it would’ve taken between four and six years to get to the levels that we saw in May if growth had continued at the same levels it was at for the past few years.

Vivek Pandya, Adobe’s Digital Insights Manager, Adobe

With Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) fast approaching, it’s pivotal that online retailers can anticipate shoppers’ needs in this tricky-to-navigate landscape. One overwhelming fact is clear: people will discover products and buy online more than ever. Almost 75% of US consumers who plan to purchase this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons.

What does this mean for retailers looking to provide a quality BFCM experience? 

It requires ecommerce businesses to remain agile and to meet customers where they’re able to shop. Brands must adapt to ensure their customers’ experiences are at the minimum maintained – and preferably – improved. 

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What makes a stand-out retail experience?

🎩 Top-quality customer service

Online this year, consider providing shoppers with correct, up-to-date information about products available at your store. You should also stay in touch about operation hours, returns and health and safety policies. A user-friendly website with information communicated clearly is key to providing online customer satisfaction. You’ll also avoid the potential for disappointment when customers arrive in-store hoping to purchase a certain product.

👯‍♂️ One-to-one personalized experience

Creating a personalized shopping experience this BFCM is key to making customers feel valued.

65% of customers say they are motivated by receiving personalized offers. 61% appreciate personalized product recommendations. With a renewed focus on online sales for the holiday period, use your loyalty program to analyze your customers’ data. 

Notice what rewards they have redeemed and how they like to engage with your program. Use this information to send them personalized emails that include exclusive BFCM rewards related to your customers’ interests. These could be free gifts related to previous purchases or even gated content that is tailored to their interests. 

Whereas in-store you would have had staff members assisting customers to give a personal experience, transition this element online by implementing a live chat function. This way, online shoppers can still receive one-on-one assistance with just the click of a button.  

👀 An exciting and engaging experience

Retailers need to think of their websites as a place for customers to experience the brand, not to just make transactions. How can you best provide an easy, simple and fun UX experience?

This might look like a bespoke loyalty page for customers to sign in to, that gives them a personal welcome, clearly displays their latest points balance, and recommends products based on their previous purchases.

Just as you would guide a shopper through a physical store, think about how to implement a clear layout and effective signposting on your website so customers can easily find your program without bouncing. Signpost your loyalty program in the main navigation toolbar or with an on-site pop-up and ensure it displays the perks of your program.

✅ High-quality products

It goes without saying, but offering high-quality goods is essential. You can have the most beautiful branding in the world, but without delivering on quality you won’t get far. 

This year, resist the temptation to only markdown your products that sell less. Instead,  introduce at least one “bestseller” offer that you can promote to entice customers to your store.

We know that the holiday shopping experience this year will look different to previous years. Now that we’ve covered what makes a stand-out retail experience, let’s outline how to make sure the online experience is just as memorable.

How to optimize your online customer experience 

Offer in-store experiences online

Shoppers can’t make it to the store? Bring the store to them. 

Start by analyzing and identifying the in-store services or experiences you could recreate online. If nothing fits, think about the common queries or questions your customers might have on size, fit, color and usage. Then, formulate how you might best answer those questions.

The beauty brand, 100% Pure, has started offering free video consultations online with their resident beauty experts. They offer both skincare consultations and foundation shade matching. These services are useful to customers who would usually ask an in-store member of staff for help. Read more about 100% Pure’s loyalty program over on our case study page.

Foster a sense of community

47% of customers say they’ll be loyal to a store if they feel like they’re part of a brand community. Knowing they share common ground with a brand and other shoppers is a key part of making them feel like they’re a member of your tribe. 

Annmarie Skin Care enrolls its loyalty program members into a private Facebook community. Here, members trade beauty secrets with one another. Not only does this keep their members engaged, but it’s also a forum where they are inspired to make new purchases based on the recommendations of others (rather than the brand). Read more on Annmarie’s loyalty strategy.

Allow customers to redeem their loyalty points online

Retailers who provide an omnichannel experience retain, on average, 89% of their customers. This BFCM, make your loyalty program unite the online and offline customer experience. 

Start by letting your customers redeem their rewards from offline purchases, online. This will encourage them to keep spending with you as they are incentivized by the rewards available. 

For example, The Detox Market has a variety of ways to earn points that span offline and online shopping. From returning empties in-store through to writing a review online, customers can continue to rack up points no matter where they are or how they engage with the brand. 

This year, take the BFCM offline experience, online with LoyaltyLion. From offering in-store experiences digitally to fostering a sense of community, a loyalty program lays the foundations for you to care more effectively for your customers.

Peak 2020 Pack

About the author

Mollie Woolnough-Rai

Mollie is a Senior Content Marketing Executive at LoyaltyLion. After graduating from UCL in 2016, she has worked both in-house and at marketing agencies providing expertise in content for both B2B and B2C clients. At LoyaltyLion, Mollie manages our content, making sure our readers get the best quality resources about customer loyalty and retention.

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