Managing Director TERRITORY Influence, a leading full service influencer marketing agency activating 4 Mio creators for brands in Europe

It’s likely the pandemic will dramatically impact shopping behavior this holiday season, with U.S. e-commerce a particular focal point due to its increase over the past few months. In fact, in the U.K., 91% of shoppers are “planning to avoid physical stores this Black Friday,” and 35% say they will be directing their focus to finding deals online.

So, what do brands need to do heading into the holiday season — especially brands that are relying on holiday sales to rescue the year?

1. Boost your visibility on social media now.

Due to social distancing, social media usage increased in 2020 as more people looked to connect virtually, seek information or entertainment online. Facebook alone has more than 2.6 billion active monthly users, followed by YouTube with more than 2 billion users.

People no longer use social media only to connect with friends, but also to look for information about products and brands. For this reason, it is becoming increasingly important for marketing teams to ensure their brand, product or service is visible while customers browse social media and explore the product category. Social media not only allows brands to present their products and increase awareness, but most of the platforms have also added shopping features during the last few years to increase conversion.

2. Coordinate promotional offers with retail partners.

Forrester estimates that 63% of all e-commerce sales are driven through “marketplaces,” such as Amazon and Alibaba. It is critically important for brands to align their seasonal promotional plans not only with their traditional retail partners, such as Walmart or Carrefour, but also with their key online e-commerce partners. Shoppers have become experts in navigating digital spaces, especially during the pandemic, and are likely to allocate their budgets to the retail channels offering the highest convenience (e.g., free daily delivery) and cheapest price.

3. Drive traffic at key shopping dates.

Last year, the holiday shopping season generated more than $138 billion in online sales, with Black Friday rivaling Cyber Monday for the biggest single shopping day of the year. This year, many brands and retailers are preparing for an even bigger shopping event due to the recent e-commerce growth prompted by the pandemic.

Brands that want to benefit from the expected shopping spree need to grab the attention of holiday shoppers and channel them to their own or partners’ e-commerce sites. To stand out during the holiday season, marketing teams should be increasingly using social media to drive traffic to Amazon and other e-commerce sites. Macro influencers and social celebrities can also help to raise visibility for your offer online and drive traffic to e-commerce thanks to the influence they have on their followers.

4. Convert e-commerce visitors to shoppers.

Social proof is an important cognitive bias that influences purchase decision-making. Hence, shoppers often look at online ratings and reviews to decide which brands and products to buy online. Good reviews can lead to more sales because they encourage consumers to trust your brand, while negative ones can lead to a serious sales decline. According to 2019 research, 71% of consumers think that ratings are important, and “47% regularly check ratings before making a purchase.”

Since high volumes of reviews won’t appear overnight, it is critically important for brands to start planning their ratings and review strategy today. This may include automatically asking buyers to write a review or reaching out to your customer relationship management (CRM) database. At Territory Influence, we also run a dedicated ratings and reviews campaign by identifying brand lovers among our consumer panels and asking them for help.

Summary And Conclusions

With the pandemic still impacting consumers’ usual routines, it’s uncertain whether they will return to stores for the 2020 holiday shopping season. Brands and retailers should be preparing for another huge digital shopping season by building online visibility and engaging with potential shoppers on social media. And because customer endorsements have transformed from word of mouth to detailed online reviews, brands need to ensure that all their SKUs are adequately rated to drive e-commerce visibility and conversion.

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