3 Ways Retailers Can Visually Prepare for Post-Holiday Shopping, Both Online and Offline

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 10.17.42 AMThe holiday shopping season is coming to a close. By now you’ve already put your strategy into action and are reaching holiday shoppers everywhere. But what happens after? What are you going to do about the post holiday crowd? And I’m not just talk about discounts to move last years inventory. I’m talking about your customers, who are flocking to the visual web (see Pinterest and Instagram) to find the stuff that they missed out on during the holidays. Have you made your list of how to best optimize your digital efforts for those customers, but not yet checked it twice? Don’t worry, there’s still time! Here are three ways retailers can visually ensure they’re filling the gaps in consumer’s wish lists during this post-holiday shopping season.

1. Get pinnable.

As consumers get over their holiday hangovers, they’ll turn to Pinterest to catch up with some of their favorite brands. At this point one would think encouraging pinning from product pages and informing fans about a Pinterest presence would be a no-brainer for brands. Well, you’d be surprised. We recently found that only 48 percent of retailers link to their Pinterest profile on their homepage while many have also been slow to adopt Pinterest branding and “Pin It” buttons throughout their site.

In comparison, as reported during last year’s holiday season, retailers that have recognized the potential impact of the “Pin It” button saw tremendous results: eight of Pinterest’s top 10 retail brands prominently displayed a Pin It button and brands like Ikea and Target generated nearly 1 million shares (aka pins and repins) from their website. Those 1 million shares represent 1 million different product links that are ripe for discovery. Also, let’s not forget those links leave users just a single click away from purchase.

Since Pinterest has made it extremely easy to integrate its buttons and widgets throughout your site, ease of use is no excuse. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today by visiting Pinterest’s Business Center and make it easier than ever for your fans to add your products to their wish list.

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 10.17.42 AM

2. Get visual.

Buying yourself a crummy product is bad; but buying one for someone else is even worse. Yes, brands have implemented things like user reviews and ratings into their e-commerce sites to help consumers feel more comfortable about their final purchase decision, but let’s be honest, those reviews are bland, dry and feel like a massive formality. They also require a lot of work from your customers and, as a result, don’t receive much engagement.

So, what’s a brand to do? Replace those heartless reviews with authentic images of your fans using your products in the real world. Chances are, consumers are already sharing these images across social networks, especially on Instagram. Bring that content directly into your website and product pages to increase social proof, keep your visitors on-site longer, and present user-driven, authentic reviews to prospects.

Forward-thinking retailers like Urban Outfitters (UO) are already bringing user-generated content into their site. Customers that use #UOonYOU in their Instagram photos could very well end up on Urban Outfitter’s site, which celebrates current fans and inspires new customers. Did we mention that UO has also made these user images shoppable by linking to the products featured in the photos? Awesome, right? And you thought you couldn’t put a return on investment on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 10.15.14 AM

3. Get responsive.

Given the granularity of visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, for the first time ever consumers aren’t just liking brands, they’re telling them the exact products they like and in what styles, colors and sizes. This is even more apparent nowadays with digital wish lists. Yes, retailers are already tracking which products are being purchased on-site to optimize the e-commerce experience, but what about tracking engagement with your products across the visual web to understand the products that are actually driving users to your site in the first place?

Although this can be extremely difficult given that most conversations on the visual web don’t mention a brand’s name, social platforms can help discover and surface all of that rich engagement, revealing actionable data that can drive not only e-commerce optimization, but in-store merchandising as well.

For example, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom was one of the first brands to leverage social cues for in-store merchandising by marking their topped pinned products with a physical Pinterest tag. Although this integration was the first of its kind, it certainly wasn’t the last. We’re now seeing other retailers follow suit with entire racks and end-caps merchandised by what’s popular across Pinterest. This drives more relevant shopping suggestions and, as a result, an improved shopping experience. It’s too early to tell, but we’re betting this will drive higher conversions too.

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 10.08.04 AM

In the new year, make it about the consumer, and not about you. Make it easier for your fans to build their wish lists, celebrate and inspire customers by featuring their images on-site, and use online social cues to improve their in-store shopping experience. Remember, even after the holidays the greatest gift is giving!