By Michelle MacDonald. Holiday spending is expected to reach its highest point since 2008, increasing 10 per cent compared with the 2015 holiday season, according to the recently released 2016 Holiday Outlook by PWC. Even more striking, however, is the prediction that for the first time ever, shoppers are expected to spend an equal amount online and instore.
“This is a watershed moment in consumer behaviour,” says Bryan Mavrow, senior vice-president of marketing for Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union. “If you are a business owner ramping up for the busiest season of the year, you don’t want to miss out half of your sales because your website isn’t meeting consumer expectations.”
He advises to start by testing your current online experience for any hiccups.
“Regardless of how much online shopping your customer base currently does, it’s critical to provide a fast and seamless e-commerce experience as more and more of your total sales move to the online space,” says Mavrow.
If it takes too many steps to make a sale or your site is too slow, you’ll have purchases deserted in your virtual aisles. A 2015 Radware study confirms that 57 per cent of consumers will abandon a site that failed to load after three seconds.
“Losing sales revenue is simply something that smaller retailers can’t afford,” he says. “Don’t assume that someone wants your product enough to wait for it.”
The PWC report also revealed that 57 per cent of Millennials prefer to shop online and increasingly consumers of all ages are making purchases on their smartphones. As a result, mobile shopping is expected to be up 25 per cent from last year.
Consequently, Mavrow advises retailers optimize their sites for mobile shopping as well as take advantage of advances in payment technologies, such as Mobile Interac Flash®.
If you’re finding that your social channels are collecting dust, then you also need to revisit your approach there too.
“You’ve heard it before but providing customers, particularly younger generations, the opportunity to interact with you is mission critical in the new digital landscape,” he says.
The PWC study confirms that more than half of Millennials and 60 per cent of those born after 1996 (Gen Z) learn about brands via influencers and peer recommendations on social media. What’s more they also research purchases in advance online before going to the store.
“Millennials and Gen Z are the recommendation generations,” says Mavrow. “As a result, it pays for business owners to share about their products and services on social media as well as find ways to enhance their digital experience overall.”
About Envision Financial
Envision Financial is a premier provider of banking, investment and insurance services for residents and businesses throughout the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland and Kitimat regions. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.’s third-largest credit union with 54 branches and 38 insurance offices throughout the province, Envision Financial brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. Visit envisionfinancial.ca for more information.