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From Data to Decisions: Drive Exponential Sales this Holiday Season (and Beyond)

October 29, 2014

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“In God we trust. All others must bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant

This is the age of ‘smart data.’ Retailers have shifted focus from sheer volume of data to how they can use it to achieve business objectives. This data-led economy creates massive opportunities for retailers to harvest insights that drive customer acquisition, conversion and loyalty. With each click and swipe through the buyer journey, online and mobile shoppers generate a veritable treasure trove of information based on their behavior and preferences. Gifting is an area of ecommerce vital to retailers but still sorely lacking in leveraging data.

The all-important winter holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Brands and retailers went deep into planning months ago to prepare for this critical time. Optimism reigns supreme this year as the NRF predicts a 4.1 percent increase from 2013 in holiday sales to $616.9 billion. From responsive design to viral marketing, strategic planners and decision makers are hyper-focused to ensure their online stores are primed to capture their share of this lucrative uptick in consumer spending. Every touch point in the omnichannel ecosystem creates new data that is ripe for gathering and use to make intelligent decisions.

One in five e-commerce transactions year round is a gift purchase. It’s paramount for retailers to parse their overall data with gifting-specific information to make smarter, more targeted marketing and merchandising decisions. Here are three areas to apply data to your advantage and open commercial opportunities to sell even more products this holiday season (and position yourself for success all year long).

Shopping cart abandonment

Abandoned carts are top-of-mind for retailers and wreak havoc on holiday profits every year. Retailers that have integrated an e-gift checkout into their online store have already opened a vast opportunity to capture real-time data that can be used to retarget abandoned gift purchases and convert them to completed transactions. Once an item has been designated as a gift, every data point in the path to purchase can be captured and analyzed. Armed with the right data-driven platform, retailers can garner insights into the where, when and even why a gift shopper abandoned a cart. Because of the rich data available that is unique to a gifting transaction (recipient info, gift occasion, product details, etc.), retailers can use this information to retarget shoppers, address the pain point that caused the cart abandonment and recapture the lost transaction.

Locating and Leveraging Brand Ambassadors

By its very nature, gifting is an act of brand ambassadorship. When somebody gifts an item from a preferred online store, he or she is promoting that brand or retailer. Gifting has exponential power. Every transaction automatically creates two customers, each with the potential to further disseminate their brand love and generate repeat and referral sales. Every gifting transaction can generate social data that allows retailers to identify their most valuable customers driving both gift-specific sales and return business. Information such as sales from referral traffic and return visits that originated from a gifting transaction and the average order value (AOV) of a gift shopper’s or recipient’s shopping cart allows retailers to focus on these brand ambassadors while encouraging them to share their gift items and experiences with like-minded consumers through social networks.

Providing Data-Driven Gift Recommendations

Smart data is all about using information to make informed marketing and merchandising decisions. A retailer’s online gift guides and tabs can be populated by a combination of data-driven insights and human curation. On the data side, it is important for retailers to understand more than just surface level metrics such as popular store items in general. While these KPIs can inform decisions for gifting and holiday promotions, there are much deeper data points available that can help retailers understand most popular items by different gift occasion or geography. After all, it doesn’t make sense to recommend a best-selling winter coat to someone shopping for someone that lives in Hawaii. With an integrated e-commerce solution that use machine learning and pattern recognition, retailers can populate gift recommendations based on details such as a recipient’s gender and the specific occasion.

Planning for Beyond the Winter Holidays

While retailers understandably put a lot of focus and resources toward the winter holiday season, it is important to step back and examine your entire gifting strategy. In fact, it is a great time to ask yourself if you have one at all. After the holidays, retailers are swamped with gift returns and then it’s all about rushing to prepare for Valentine’s Day. Instead of jumping from holiday to holiday, innovative e-gifting technology is providing opportunities to create comprehensive gifting strategies that align objectives including marketing and price point optimization for items across all gift occasions using the power of data.

As part of our mission to help retailers create year round gifting strategies, we will be at Money 20/20, the seminal event for the payments and financial services markets focused on disruptive innovations in commerce at the intersection of key macro trends that include mobile, retail, marketing services, data and technology. SmartGift will join an incredible line up of speakers and sit on an expert panel on Gift Card Disruptors on Monday, November 3 at 8:50 a.m. We will also be available at kiosk 32 in the exhibition hall to discuss gifting and dig further into how data can be a powerful driver of customer acquisition and conversion. Check out the entire agenda here, and we’ll see you in Las Vegas!

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