2020 has been a rollercoaster year for many consumer electronics retailers. The last few months of the pandemic have created a whole new breed of shoppers that have a newfound level of comfort with online shopping. Consider what this means for the holidays when it’s likely that hordes of people won’t be able to flock into stores. I’d predict online holiday shopping in the consumer electronics industry will be explosive this year.

The pandemic has driven a major shift in shopping behavior. Many of these new shoppers will transition to using online shopping as their primary channel, opening the doors for brands to earn their business.

The next few months are critical when it comes to preparing your commerce business for the holidays. We say that every year. But! This year, it’s going to be different. We’ve put together a creative list of initiatives you should consider as we approach a very critical holiday shopping season.

Personalize Every Session

Welcome your shoppers into a store personalized to their preferences. Oh, hi Mike, welcome back, let’s pick up where we left off: 65’’ curved TV’s. Here are the ones you clicked on in your last visit, and we’ve bundled accessories to get you going right away! (Cue add to cart).

Personalization is the most powerful tool in building the in-store shopping experience online. Every consumer electronics site needs to focus on personalization as the likelihood of physical retail experiences during the holidays are very uncertain. Moreso, there are many recently converted online first shoppers coming your way.

Strong and effective personalization is at the intersection of customer profiles and in-session signals. When you marry these two data sources on-the-fly, shoppers feel like they have a store associate helping them find what they’re looking for. Whether it’s through recommendations which compliment past purchases or results sorted in a way that put brand, size, or feature preference at the top, personalization will increase both conversion and average order value (AOV).

And you can’t argue with the results. For example, our customer Lenovo, the number one PC manufacturer in the world, saw annual revenue contribution through search increase by 95% after deploying Fusion to provide a hyper-personalized experience. By leveraging Fusion’s NLP (natural language processing) capabilities, signals (collecting, processing, storage), and content/user analytics, consumer electronics companies can create that special “you-know-me” experience.

B&H Photo speaks to the shopper based on their previous interactions on the site, from one visit to the next, to establish continuity and personalization.

Educate the Consumer

There are endless questions and curiosities around features and technologies, especially when it comes to making a large purchase for yourself or a family member; and even more so now that many shoppers are avoiding stores. Who are Bixby and Alexa? What is the difference between UHD and HDR and…. you get the idea.

It’s critical to have highly engaged vendors who can arm you with exhaustive product data. It’s even more important for you to normalize the data from vendor to vendor so that the consumer can easily compare, filter, and shop. Then provide the detailed product information and educational content to shoppers throughout their journey so they can make confident purchase decisions.

This website does a great job incorporating educational content and information on PDP’s and throughout the shopping journey to help educate shoppers.

Provide Multiple Payment Options

The more options, the more information, the better—this is true for product info as much as it is for payment options. Another way to boost conversions is providing third-party payment options, in-store and online. For example, CVS recently announced that it’s integrating PayPal and Venmo QR codes into its checkouts across its 8,200 stores nationwide, and to a joint report between Baymard and Amazon Payments, 83% of the top 60 grossing commerce sites across the US and internationally offer third party payment options.

They also found that nearly 10% of shoppers abandon carts solely due to the lack of payment options. Whether it’s Venmo, Paypal, or some other option this can be a huge value add.

Additionally, as we approach the holiday season, consider offering different payment plans or financing, especially for the big-ticket items like laptops, TVs, and monitors for new remote workersThe pandemic has impacted many shoppers’ primary source of income. This would be a major differentiator from your competition and likely enough to secure many more sales.

Newegg provides many different payment options, a reason for the shopper to continue the transaction with confidence.

Optimize Your SEM Strategy

Competition will be high as brands are fighting to capture the attention of highly qualified traffic. This means that your SEM (search engine marketing) strategy will need to get tuned up. But this does NOT mean that your budget needs to go up!

One creative strategy is to take the “Moneyball” approach to SEM. You don’t need to go buy out all the heavy hitter keywords. These are going to cost a pretty penny and not drive the qualified traffic you’re looking for. Instead, look for more specific keywords that are relevant to the specific assortments in your catalog. If you capitalize on a list of these you’ll surely drive more qualified traffic at a fraction of the cost.

Want to take this to the next level? Plug in Lucidwork’s Fusion to the feedback loop. Fusion will incorporate your shopper’s user behavior, or signals, and plug that back into the equation to recommend high performing ad word suggestions.

Integrating Lucidworks Fusion with your SEM strategy, including ad and keyword buys.

Double Down on Self-Service

One of the most valuable and cross-experience improvements you can make ahead of holiday is to launch a smart chatbot solution. This will enable you to scale up your call centers virtually, without adding more human agents. You’d be amazed at the different kinds of questions chatbots can answer today, including facilitating returns, helping shoppers answer questions about products, and providing order tracking information. Save your human resources for the shoppers that really need complex or critical support.

Lucidworks has developed a chatbot enhancer which applies all of the machine learning and natural language processing inherent in Fusion (including natural language processing, machine learning, signals collecting) to the chatbot experience. Better self-service frees support and helpdesk agents to focus on the complex and valuable questions that matter for retaining customers and supporting employees.

Read more about Lucidworks Smart Answers here.

Overhaul Your Returns Process

Spaghetti is to meatballs as returns is holiday shopping. This is my least favorite part of online shopping. Who do I call? I have to call someone? When will my credit arrive? Where do I find the status? For many reasons, this is a huge challenge today. As we approach a holiday shopping season in which we may not have physical stores to return products AND with a new influx of online shoppers, we need to give the returns process a serious overhaul.

You don’t want your customers to be waiting in a queue in the parking lot the day after Christmas for a curbside return because they didn’t see in the updated FAQ that the return window was extended by a few months.

A couple of recommendations:

  • Educate the customer ahead of the purchase on how returns will work for that specific product this year
  • Provide free returns
  • Make request a return extremely simple by way of a link on your homepage, in a shipment confirmation email and order history
  • Consider providing store credit in advance of actual credit
  • And… advertise this!
There is a huge opportunity to edge out the competition with a thought-out and effective return process; Statistics from Baymard Statistics from Baymard; There is a huge opportunity to edge out the competition with a thought-out and effective return process.

Prepare for the increase in online returns and get the word out about how easy and fast and free returns are on your site. Shoppers will notice and confidently shop on your site this holiday season.

Happy Holidays

Holiday season 2020 is going to be critical for the consumer electronics industry. The recent growth in ecommerce is explosive. Consider implementing some (or all!) of these creative strategies to ensure you edge out the competition and position your brand for success.

Interested in more tips to improve your ecommerce site? Check out this article: 4 Quick Ways to Audit Your Site Ahead of the Holiday Shopping Season.