7 New Customer Expectations for Holiday 2018

7 New Customer Expectations for Holiday 2018

As the first step to success, it’s essential for retailers to understand the updated customer expectations for Holiday 2018. Last year broke records for holiday shopping, and with another strong year currently underway, the final weeks of 2018 are likely to build upon the robust sales.

Nothing stays static in retail. Our industry is evolving – and improving – all the time. With this in mind, here are our 7 new customer expectations for Holiday 2018.

1. Shoppers Want a Customized Experience

Graze snack box pop-up saying welcome back

If we had to declare a “Word of the Year” for retail in 2018, it would be personalization. We live in a time of tailored experiences. Think of it like this: increasingly people get their news through a curated feed, right? For better or worse, the era of broadcasting, where everyone got the same information, every night, through the same program, is over.

The same holds true for retail. Shoppers are no longer buying as much from all-encompassing department stores. People search for what they want, and they’re lead to specific results for that item. In fact, as Demac Media reports via Think with Google, “Over the past two years, mobile searches with the qualifier “for me” have grown over 60%.” (Example: what’s the best shampoo for my hair type?)

Thus, it becomes crucial for retailers to offer them the experience they’ve come for. And to remember them for the future.

Now is an excellent time to review your sales from Holiday 2017. What is the 2018 follow up to your customer’s 2017 purchase? If they bought baby clothes last year, do they need toddler gifts this year? If they gifted a cool jacket during Holiday 2017, what can you show the customer from the same designer’s 2018 collection?

2. Products Should Be Curated

Pop Chart Lab gift guide showing products by personality type

Of course when someone first comes to your store, you won’t know much about them yet. (Although be sure to study your online traffic sources, so you know where your customers are coming from. This will begin to develop your shopper profile.)

Furthermore, a new customer won’t know much about your store either. With the holidays in mind, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to navigate your inventory for potential gifts. Think about the gift recipients; for Mom, for Sister, or for Girlfriend will take users on three different tours of your inventory. Also, think about personality types and other playful descriptions of people who will love your products. Pop Chart Lab’s Gift Guides are a masterful for this!

3. Delivery Should be Fast

According to the 3rd Annual Holiday Survey by Dropoff, a same day delivery service, 67% of consumers have abandoned a gift order due to slow delivery times. Furthermore, 91% of those surveyed said that on-time delivery is a top concern for them. And at the same time, 77% said they will likely do last-minute holiday shopping this year. In fact, over the past year, 45% of luxury shoppers have purchased gifts and had them delivered the same day.

Now is the time to secure your shipping and delivery plan for Holiday 2018. The calendar works in retailers’ favor this year, as there will be 34 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the maximum possible. Work to extend your shipping cut-off dates as long as you can. The more merchants can serve the procrastinating shopper, the better their holiday sales. (And note: millennials say they are 118% more likely to pay extra for same day delivery.)

4. The Good Deals Begin in November (or October!)

Several of Command C’s top trends from Holiday 2017 will be alive and well this year, too. In particular, regarding the shopping timeline: Black Friday is no longer the holiday kick-off. As Shopify preached last year (see above), shoppers begin looking for holiday deals up to six weeks before Thanksgiving.

In contrast to the last-minute shopper, 50% of shoppers say they’ll be done with shopping by December 3rd. At the same time, 60% of shoppers report that they continue to shop during the two weeks after Christmas. Thus, with customers buying from October through early January, it truly is a holiday shopping season.

5. Help Needs to be Readily Available

In their article, 4 Crucial Trends for Holiday 2018, Zendesk reports that “Customer requests for support tends to surge dramatically over the holidays.” Furthermore, the customer’s overall satisfaction is often determined by how quickly the retailer sends their first response to the query. Much like a retailer’s delivery plan, it’s important to develop a customer service plan now, too.

6. Buy Quickly and Easily on Mobile

Image courtesy of Pinterest app for Shopify

As the site Business Insider describes it, mobile shopping “exploded” during Holiday 2017. It’s true: mobile shopping had been steadily increasing for years, but few predicted the 15% jump in traffic in 2017 over mobile rates for Holiday 2016. Mobile conversions increased 12%, year over year, as well. Mobile is not a novelty, or in development, or anything of the sort – it’s simply how we shop now.

7. Keep Shoppers Informed at Every Step

Shoppers do not like surprises, especially in the holiday crunch time. Keep people in the know throughout the shopping process on your site. If something is out of stock, let it be known before they add it to their cart. If a product is going to take an extra long time for delivery, say it up front. Whenever you need to communicate something unexpected, say it quickly and clearly.

Take a lead from Everlane: at the time of this writing, they were in the process of moving their distribution centers. Most retailers can relate to this, right?  (Truth is a lot of customers can relate to moving as well.) Everlane scores points for announcing their situation at the top of their landing page. Now, before a customer even clicks on a product, she knows that it may take up to two weeks to get it. If she’s an Everlane loyalist (a lot of people are) and not in a rush, she’ll keep shopping. She can work with the information she’s been given right from the start.

How does your retail site perform with these new customer expectations for Holiday 2018 in mind? Do you see some areas for improvement? If so, don’t worry. We’re here to help. Let’s work together to get your site in top form for the biggest selling season of the year.

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