For consumer durable goods brands, this year’s holiday season is shaping up to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, consumer spending is up. Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, saw a healthy increase in shopping revenue on all three days. Cyber Monday spending rose 19.3 percent year over year, ultimately reaching $7.9 billion in revenue to make it the highest U.S. e-commerce sales day in history (Adobe Analytics – Retail Unwrapped 2018).
The 2018 holiday shopping season is projected to be record-breaking also, as U.S. shoppers are expected to spend more than $1 trillion for the first time ever (eMarketer). That’s a six percent increase over last year and the strongest growth since 2011.
That’s the good news.
The Downside of the Holiday Shopping Season
The not-so-good news is…complicated. First, most of the growth in sales is online, where margins can be tighter due to factors such as competitive discounts, distribution, and shipping costs, including free holiday shipping promotions. During Thanksgiving weekend, foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores was down overall by 6.6 percent (Retail Next), and smartphone purchases jumped more than 55 percent year over year, marking this the first year ever that more than half of visits (54.3 percent) came from mobile devices (Adobe Analytics).
Additionally, some brands that sell through Amazon are facing lost revenue and significant hurdles as the e-commerce behemoth seeks more control over the products listed on its site. According to Recode.net, the situation has caused some brands to leave Amazon entirely. “Over the past few months, Amazon has applied intense pressure to consumer brands across different product categories — seizing more control over what, where and how they can sell their goods on the so-called everything store…. One apparent goal: To take more control over the price of goods on Amazon so the company can better compete with retailers.”
Another problem that comes with holiday shopping is the issue of product returns. Retail Dive reports that returns are up overall this year to around $400 billion. Historically, around 25 percent of all returns occur during the holidays or shortly after.
Lower margins, less control, and costly returns are just a few of the challenges brands face that are especially prevalent during the holiday shopping season. What’s a brand to do?
Registration as the Anchor
Product registration is the anchor to knowing more more customers, higher customer satisfaction, and additional revenue – and a surefire way to offset holiday shopping headaches.
As more and more shoppers move to mobile transactions, the mobile customer experience is paramount. This is true not only before and during the sale, but after, as well. A convenient, user-friendly product registration experience not only connects buyers directly with the brands they buy, it opens the door for brands to capitalize on key ownership moments – ergo, the “ownership experience.”
The ownership experience begins the moment a customer purchases a product and continues through the lifetime of ownership. Engaging buyers during ownership moments – such as warranty registration and service recommendations, product updates and related offers – builds owner satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
This Direct-to-Owner (DTO) channel also results in a new source of high margin revenue to help offset lower margin revenue and the cost of returns. Existing customers are 50 percent more likely to try new products from a brand they have already purchased from, and they spend 31 percent more than new customers. At the same time, marketing spend to existing customers – especially using direct, digital channels – is much less than is spent on new customer acquisition, resulting in high margin revenue.
Connecting with product owners immediately after the “moment of truth” (when they first open the product packaging) also has the potential to reduce returns as brands can easily provide updated product information or product guides via SMS, and product owners can use the same channel to conveniently contact support if additional help is needed.
Here are a few steps you can take to better position your brand for next year’s holiday shopping season.
- Audit your current product/warranty registration practices. Are you offering an easy and engaging owner onboarding process, or making customers jump through hoops? Is customer data accurate and complete, and do you have a system in place to leverage the data and resulting insights? Is registration a “one and done” task, or does it open the door to a direct and ongoing channel with your product owners?
- Review your owners’ post-purchase experience after they register their products. Are you providing them with valuable offers or information that improves their experience with your brand and product from the very beginning? It’s also a great time to ask them for Ratings & Reviews when they’re most engaged. These are just a few of many post-purchase moments that can benefit your customers and your company.
- Evaluate long-term solutions to optimize the return on investment from your existing customer base. Look for a partner that has industry expertise and can share best practices, benchmarks, and methods to improve outcomes such as revenue attainment and customer satisfaction. In addition to considering a solution’s features and up-front cost, determine how quickly the solution can be integrated into your business so you can start realizing ROI.
Want to speak with one of our owner engagement experts? Contact Registria today.