How brands can give customers the gift of buyer confidence this Golden Quarter

Niels Stenfeldt, CEO, inriver
By Niels Stenfeldt, CEO, inriver

We’ve all seen the headlines on how the rising cost-of-living is causing huge dips in UK consumer confidence. And it’s no surprise. With food prices, energy bills, and interest rates all going up, anxious UK consumers are feeling the squeeze like never before. That means less money in their pockets, forcing them to be more selective with their purchases.

The challenge for brands is knowing how to support their customers while still making sales and meeting their revenue goals. And the next three months are crucial to hitting those goals with the upcoming Golden Quarter expected to deliver the majority of their annual sales.

It’s not just Christmas fuelling the rise in consumer spending at this time of year. Halloween and Guy Fawkes also contribute, as do recent US imports like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, with consumer anxiety growing, this year’s Golden Quarter promises to be more challenging than ever.

So how do retailers and manufacturers beat a continued cost-of-living squeeze this Golden Quarter and hit those Golden Quarter revenue goals despite this growing anxiety? It all centres on digital touchpoints, and how brands can build critical trust with their online customers through better information and the right product stories.

Here are three ways to give the gift of buyer confidence this Golden Quarter.

Tell the right story across the digital shelf

Everyone loves a good story around the holidays – and that includes shoppers on the digital shelf. You’ve probably heard about product stories before, but what does that actually mean? And why are they important?

Let’s start with the why. According to inriver’s latest eCommerce report, Inside the mind of an online shopper, only 10 per cent of UK shoppers start their search on a brand’s website. That means brands need to craft a product story that gets told across the digital shelf. But how?

Firstly, every tale needs a good hero. That’s the product. But every good hero needs an origin story. On the digital shelf, this is the product information, such as material data, size guides, compatibility specs, and much more. Our data shows 95 per cent of UK shoppers think this is important or essential, so be generous.

A good hero also needs credibility. On the digital shelf, this can be the customer reviews. 16 per cent of UK shoppers think reviews are the most important detail in a product listing. Having at least five positive comments can significantly boost conversions and give your product story a happy ending.

Take away the uncertainty

The holiday season might be about giving, but brands should be taking away the uncertainty this Golden Quarter. Product uncertainty, stock issues, and delivery delays all fuel customer anxiety – and make them less likely to buy.

More selective shoppers want increased certainty about what they’re buying. Our report shows that 31 per cent of UK shoppers return products because they aren’t as described. A further 23 per cent return items because they don’t like the fit. That’s a lot of costly product returns for retailers.

To reduce returns and build a digital shelf customers can trust, its essential brands equip their product listings with reliable data. Optimised content, size guide charts, and multimedia assets like videos, images, and immersive AR (augmented reality) can give shoppers confidence that what they see is what they’ll get.

Of course, a certain degree of uncertainty will remain. Delays in delivery, for example, are typically outside the control of brands. However, with a digital shelf customers have confidence in, brands know that when their products do arrive, it will be worth the wait.

Remember sustainability is for life, not just for Christmas

The leaves might be turning, but the digital shelf remains increasingly evergreen. Sustainability is nothing new in retail, and eco-credentials are now top of the Golden Quarter wish list.

Our data shows that 78 per cent of UK shoppers think a product’s eco-credentials are important or essential on the digital shelf. And that means all products. It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying coats, consoles, or kitchen counters, green is definitely in fashion this winter.

It’s clear that brands should make sustainability a key tenet of any digital shelf, with a product’s eco-credentials front and centre. This includes raw material sourcing, labour practices, and any recycled material, to name just a few. It should also include local sustainability regulations, if applicable.

And remember, too, that sustainability goes beyond the digital shelf. For a green-minded buying journey, brands should consider recyclable packaging and carbon-neutral delivery to bring a more sustainable product story into a customer’s home.

PIM: the gift that keeps on giving

For brands looking to build confidence in their digital shelf, there are several options. For example, brands can manually audit and update product listings across their customer touchpoints. Alternatively, they can integrate the latest software innovations into their company tech stack.

One of these software solutions is product information management (PIM). A PIM equips all brands – from manufacturers to high street retailers – with a single source of product data truth. This can then be crafted into reliable, accurate product stories and distributed across the digital shelf. Some also offer digital shelf analytics that let brands monitor product performance with real-time, actionable insight.

With this year’s Golden Quarter shaping up to be the most challenging yet, it’s never too late for brands to build a better digital shelf that meets the moment. One that not only gives customers the gift of buyer confidence but also ensures brands aren’t left with a holiday season hangover.


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