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The gift that keeps on giving: How everywhere commerce is fuelling holiday shopping and beyond

Julia Fontaine, SVP Growth at MediaMonks London on the new user behaviours suggesting a shift in shopping mindset and how brands can connect with audiences through differentiated digital experiences.

Julia Fontaine, MediaMonks London

Senior Vice President of Growth

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Until this year, the thought of holiday gifting may have conjured up an image of a crowded shopping centre, endless checkout queues, family gatherings, an overall predictable holiday shopping season. But since the possibility of big gatherings and teeming streets is now on pause, brands face both challenges and opportunities to meet their customers digitally.

According to Adobe, online sales this December are forecast to surge 33% compared to 2019. This rapid change in digital shopping behaviour demonstrates just how much more comfortable consumers have become with buying things online, and in many cases, it will be their only option as they try to avoid crowds and large gatherings.

According to eMarketer, retailer ecommerce sales will rise by 16.7% this holiday season to £28.51 billion in the UK. To capitalise on this trend, brands and retailers alike must rethink how they show up for consumers online. As we enter this atypical holiday season and the years to come, here are a few things to keep in mind.

The idea of not being able to meet in person is changing the way we give the gift of joy.

Wesley ter Haar, Founder, MediaMonks

New user behaviours suggest a shift in shopping mindset

“The idea of not being able to meet in person is changing the way we give the gift of joy,” MediaMonks Founder Wesley ter Haar told the audience in his recent talk at Adweek’s Commerce Week event. “This is where ecommerce is changing at scale, not just people buying more and feeling comfortable buying online.” For example, people aren’t just buying online more; 61% of UK consumers say the pandemic will  change how they shop, with 38% of UK shoppers using mobile retail apps, according to Google.

This shift in the way people connect through the holidays represents a massive opportunity for brands to differentiate the customer decision journey through indelible shopping experiences. It’s easier than ever for brands to go full direct to consumer (DTC), reclaiming the customer relationship and strengthening it. “What used to be a 24-month process of digital transformation suddenly happened so much faster, in six weeks sometimes,” ter Haar noted.

Brands that already established their own ecommerce platform in time for the festive season may be one step ahead, but they must remain on the lookout for ways to deliver brand promise throughout the shopping experience. Apart from content, customer loyalty can be attained by having a few things in mind: the need to communicate throughout the entire process, from order to delivery, both to inform customers of any delays and to drum up excitement for the new purchase. These are great ways of creating an emotional connection with a brand and it’s the most celebratory season, after all.

Combining content and commerce for added relevance

Online shopping is no longer channel-specific, and in addition to building a robust DTC platform, brands can further build loyalty, drive engagement and inspire conversions through shoppable and original content, reaching audiences whether they are in ‘buying-mode’ or not.

Building integrated brand presence across all platforms has been pivotal for some time now, but the line between content and commerce is blurring. As this happens, one thing is key: to keep it natural. Shoppable content needs to feel organic and comfortable for the consumer, rather than a hard sell.

Influencer partnerships are one simple way to offer that authenticity. Amazon Live, for example, brings brands and influencers together to not only inform the shopping experience, but to entertain. But it’s not just ecommerce sites that are becoming more social; content platforms are introducing new shopping features as well, like Instagram Live Shopping or YouTube’s integration with Shopify.

Another great example is the rising popularity of immersive shopping based on AR technology, which, in addition to enabling customers to ‘try before they buy’, can help create entertaining and shareable experiences that increase their purchase confidence. In other words, brands are increasing their efforts in finding their audience in new places and taking full advantage of the time they spend online, virtualizing the shopping experience in the process and connecting it with social opportunities.

Over the past few months and into the holiday season, it’s become clear just how much consumer shopping behaviour has changed. Now is the time for brands to build real connections with audiences through connected, relevant and differentiated digital experiences. And because there’s no turning back now, brands who enable such experiences will be better equipped to reach consumers well into 2021 and the rest of the decade.

Guest Author

Julia Fontaine, MediaMonks London

Senior Vice President of Growth,

About

Julia Fontaine is MediaMonks’ Senior Vice President of Growth in the London office. In her position she is responsible for growing the portfolio of clients in the London office. As well as bringing in new clients to the Monastery, Julia is the Global Growth Monk on the Procter & Gamble strategic account. Julia has been an active member of the UK digital industry for over 20 years. Before joining MediaMonks, Julia has built her extensive experience in strategic growth in digital and media at industry leaders such as Edelman, MediaSense and Isobar. She’s an active member of the advertising community, sharing her thoughts on stage at events such as The Drum Pitch Perfect and The Art of New Business. In her spare time she heads up Community and Youth Outreach for TedX Tunbridge Wells.