Graham Cooke is chief executive of ecommerce consultancy Qubit.
As UK retail gears up for Christmas it may wish to heed a warning from previous festive seasons.
Qubit research suggests UK retailers walked away from £1.5bn by neglecting to properly personalise their offers to online visitors.
Online is now a principal player at Christmas. The Office for National Statistics reveals that internet sales increased 11.8% year on year in December 2013. The British Retail Consortium reported that nearly a fifth (18.6%) of non-food sales happened over the internet during the festive period.
Break that down to gain greater insight: for example, visitor traffic peaks but conversion rates are lowest on Christmas Day. Customers are in browsing, not purchasing mode, so engaging content could work better than a hard upsell.
Londoners do their online shopping in early December, and Birmingham has the highest conversion rate in the week before Christmas - suggesting that retailers should adopt a location strategy.
True personalisation is about becoming a real-time retailer. It’s about remaining agile during a ‘code freeze’; about identifying your VIP customers by not only tracing their journey through your site, but also their previous purchases or browsing history; about using real-time content and urgency messaging and keeping customers informed of everything from shipping, price and, of course, tailored offers.
Personalisation can enable you to convert all those first-time visitors to your site at Christmas looking for presents. The same goes for those obviously stressed and confused customers - uncertain shoppers looking to find a present for someone who has everything or who is difficult to please. For these visitors, Christmas shopping is a miserable experience. This is a valuable segment to build a strategy around. These people want to spend - they just don’t know where or on what.
Online personalisation this Christmas should be a key strategy if you want to avoid being haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past.