Tis the season to be… planning. Yep. We’re talking about Christmas.

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Yes it is August. Yes it is currently sunny. And yes you are reading a blog about Christmas. Retail Week reported this week that Christmas this week is set to be “unspectacular” for the majority of retailers. In-store growth is set to be weak, but online is set to soar.

This is the space where retailers need to be most competitive.

While the majority of businesses see collecting data as an important part of their online strategy, surprisingly of the 170 retailers that KPMG surveyed last year, only 8% collected information on shoppers’ tastes and preferences. Seems like an obvious miss to me.

People want to shop at Christmas, they just don’t always know what to buy or who to buy from. The task of the retailer is therefore to convince that this is the time and the place to purchase. The retailers that will win this Christmas will be those who can convert those in-market, casual shoppers as they browse the website. Here are 3 ways in which you can become a real-time retailer this Christmas.

Remain agile during the code freeze:

Imagine the scenario: extreme weather conditions mean that deliveries can no longer get to customers. Or perhaps a fire occurs at the principal warehouse meaning that your capabilities are reduced. Maybe there is a technical problem on your site meaning that a high number of visitors can no longer be accommodated. None of these are fictional scenarios. In June, for example, ASOS’ entire website was taken down in response to a fire destroyed 20% of its stock. Couple these nightmare situations with a code freeze on the website meaning that no major development can be done. Then add to this to the fact that it’s your most significant trading period of the year. At the time of the year customers are communicating most, browsing most and buying most, retailers are at their least agile.

Having a platform that can sit on top of your CMS can help solve this conundrum. Unlike changes to the backend or the UI of your website, personalization can operate in real time, allowing you to make changes to your messaging and your site. For example, adding and editing JavaScript on your site does not require an entire development cycle. cycle, rather they can be adapted simply. Errors can also be resolved in a short time. For example, if you are having a problem with shipping due to extreme weather conditions, a simple message can help smooth you back to business.

It’s not just the when, it’s also the who. Personalize your sales

Each year, retailers devise a promotion strategy that will keep business rolling in and ensure they keep a competitive edge. This conversation often revolves around when to go on sale and which items to place there. Rarely does the conversation revolve around the individual who will be purchasing the item and what their user journey will look like.

By tracking what customers are looking at pre-sale, retailers can personalize offers once the items have gone on sale. For instance, perhaps they are toying with a range of dresses or electronic items. Perhaps they have visited the pages more than three times, have even placed items in their basket, yet they have never actually bought anything. Price is often a key differentiator in determining a purchase. This can so often be the tipping point.

Keep customers informed and increase urgency messaging

A key determinant in ensuring that your customer buys from you and not your competitor is shipping: the logistics, the pricing, and, of course, the timing. Simple things can be done to ensure to ensure that the messaging about your shipping capabilities are clear. Sharing these messages before customers go to the checkout can prove vital in avoiding cart abandonment.

One effective way is to add a countdown timer to your site. Informative, and also persuasive, a live countdown timer creates a sense of urgency, while also setting customer expectations. The countdown timer could be personalized further by geolocation if shipping capabilities change across regions.

Did you know that on boxing day you attract the most visitors to your site but dip in conversion rate? Or what people complain most about websites during Christmas? No? Then download our research to get the low-down.

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