Business Strategies

The Evolving Landscape Of Christmas And How To Prepare Your Business For It

The Christmas mood hits cities long before you turn the calendar page. Never ending strings of fairy lights start twinkling and shopping lists get longer. This is a season retailers look forward to but you need to be prepared or you could easily get overwhelmed.

While the essence of the season stays the same, the way people shop for gifts and share them with loved ones is changing. Understanding these evolving trends is key to increasing holiday sales numbers. So let’s dive in.

What do Christmas Shoppers Want?

Irrespective of age, exchanging gifts is a central part of holiday celebrations. We’ve been spoilt by the convenience of online shopping. Fewer people are stepping across town into stores to buy their Christmas gifts.

The 2022 holiday season saw shoppers spend $211.7 billion online. Why trudge through traffic and elbow your way to sales counters when you can place an order in a few clicks from your mobile phone. What’s more, there’s no worrying about store timings - ecommerce outlets are open 24/7.

A survey also showed a changing trend in how gifts are being exchanged. 27% of Gen Z shoppers said they were shipping more gifts rather than in-person exchanges. 22% of millennials agreed with the trend. Thus, a shopper may have multiple addresses linked to their accounts.

And finally, customers are looking at having Christmas gifts delivered in more than just a corrugated box. Many customers are happy to pay extra to have their orders gift-wrapped. It isn’t just about saving time, it’s also a neater solution when it comes to wrapping large wheeled objects, plush toys and other oddly shaped things. Priority delivery with shorter timelines can also be advantageous.

So, What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Understanding the experience customers expect helps businesses be better prepared.

With convenience being the main driving force for online shopping, it’s important to ensure processes are as smooth as possible. 18% of respondents to a survey said they abandoned shopping carts simply because the checkout process was too long/ complicated. Delivery timelines and shipping costs are other common influencing factors. Addressing these issues can help boost sales.

Given that shoppers are sending gifts to recipients across the globe, it’s more important than ever before to capture shipping data accurately. Receiving a gift the day after Christmas isn’t nearly as fun as getting it on time. Your customer may have been the one to enter a wrong pin code but when their order isn’t delivered on time, it’s your brand name that will bear the flack.

The Christmas season can also be an opportunity for businesses to discover new opportunities to offer value-added services. The option of gift-wrapping paper or a gift bag is a popular expectation around this time. But, you don’t have to limit yourself to this.

Options for eco-friendly or reusable gift wrapping paper make 24% of retailers more likely to add a gift feature to their order. Similarly, the option of a hand-written note increases the likelihood of adding gift features to an order by 22%.

Getting Ready for the Season

You’ve probably already worked out your marketing campaigns and stocked your warehouse shelves. Now it’s time to look at the customer’s shopping experience and order fulfilment. Here are a few more key steps to take in preparation for the Christmas shopping rush.

Clean up your checkout processes

Focusing on your checkout process can help reduce your cart abandonment rate and have a significant impact on your sales numbers. Optimize the steps to be mobile-friendly and keep the forms as short as possible.

Do not collect any unnecessary information. If there are additional shipping fees, make sure these are clearly listed to maintain transparency through the checkout process. Also ensure that your post-payment processes are in place – send confirmation emails and give customers an easy way to track their orders.

Prepare your supply chain

Next, make sure your supply chain can handle the order rush. Review your delivery network and shipping timelines. Customers rarely mind orders being delivered a day early but almost never take kindly to late deliveries. Given the additional load on the postal system and couriers, add buffer time.

Validate shipping addresses

A customer in the USA may place simultaneous orders to be delivered in Australia, Japan, the UK and France. Each country may have different street address formats. It may also be difficult for businesses to keep up with city administration when they update street and city names. Hence, validating addresses when they are entered in your checkout form is vital to ensuring delivery.

The simplest way to do this is by integrating an address verification tool with our checkout form. Look for an address verification tool that ensures you gather complete address details, verifies their deliverability by comparing them to third-party databases and structures them according to standardized formats.

Verify communication details

In addition to shipping addresses, you also need the customer’s contact details. You need email addresses to send order confirmation messages. You also need phone numbers. If the customer and the order recipient are two different individuals, make sure you have phone numbers for both individuals.

As with street addresses, you need to verify your customer’s phone numbers and email addresses. Here’s where you need an identity verification tool. These tools compare the submitted contact details with third-party reference databases to verify that they are active, you have the complete phone number/ email address and they are connected to the individual named on the order.

Summing it up

The Christmas season is a great opportunity for online retailers and it’s never too early to start prepping. In addition to your marketing campaigns, pay attention to customer data management. Simplify the checkout process and make sure you have the correct addresses, phone numbers and clean email lists for your customers and order recipients. Verifying these details with identity and address verification tools helps you deliver exceptional customer experiences. The better your customer’s experience; the higher your sales – it’s a win-win for everyone!

To commence validating your customer's data, join our complimentary 30-day trial today. Warm holiday wishes from the entire Melissa team for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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