How Retailers Can Prepare for Friction-Free Holidays Right Now

Creating a friction free experience is key

The dog days of summer probably seem too early to be thinking about the holidays, but if you’re a retailer, you know that plans for key holiday moments need to be finalized right now.

Now is the time when retailers that are thinking carefully about what happens between now and November—and what comes after Thanksgiving—have the opportunity to make a huge difference for customers.  And while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are incredibly important, the retailers that have the greatest success over the holidays are the ones that think beyond those two days.

The fact is that shoppers have a lot of choices these days. If brands don’t meet peoples’ expectations, the numbers prove that they will shop elsewhere.

Over half of U.S. digital shoppers abandon their carts because sites had errors or crashed, according to the Baymard Institute. And a staggering 84% of people will not shop with you again if they’ve had a bad experience, the Baymard research found.

Which means that anything a retailer does that creates unnecessary friction becomes the single biggest threat to their business this holiday season. During the holidays and beyond it’s Facebook’s goal to help you make it easy for your customers to shop with you.

Conduct a pressure test

Luckily, there are things you can do this summer to reduce friction and prepare your systems for the holidays.

Some retailers are pressure-testing their systems with short, high-impact moments like high discount one-day sales to drive masses of customers to their stores and online shops. They’re creating artificial demand so they can understand any friction points and fix them before it matters.

As you know, any friction will only be amplified during the holiday window when the entire ecosystem is under pressure. If something fails mid-summer, like your site crashes or packages are delayed, it’s inconvenient. But if an issue arises during the holidays, it can be disastrous.

Come September, there are only 60 days to get your systems right. If you can break and fix something in your system right now you can avoid disasters when the stakes are highest.

Don’t forget about last-minute shoppers

While we tend to focus on high-volume shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s actually become easier than ever for customers to be last-minute shoppers with services like buy online pick up in-store and next day shipping.

Most retailers wisely increase their campaigns during those two shopping days but far too many go dark during prime shopping time at the end of November. It’s become clear that people shop right up until Christmas Eve.

Last year, U.S .shoppers spent an estimated $26 billion on December 22, beating out the $24 billion they shelled out on the day after Thanksgiving, according to Digital Commerce 360. If you’re not talking to those last-minute shoppers about how easy you’ve made it for them, you are creating unnecessary friction.

Seize the opportunity now

At Facebook, we want to encourage you to rethink how you plan for holidays and help you consider additional ways to ease pain points for your customers from discovery to purchase to post-purchase.

For example, make it easy for someone to see as much about the product as possible online or in-store. Ensure your online checkout experiences, like load-to-cart pages, are user-friendly and efficient. Offer free pick-up in-store within hours of placing an online order.

These are the types of things people have come to expect. Almost half of U.S. holiday shoppers say the ability to buy online and pick up in-store influences their holiday shopping decisions, and 51% of shoppers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer same-day delivery, according to Retail Deep Dive.

Additionally, make it simple for customers to connect with you quickly on platforms like Messenger if they have questions or issues. Now is also a great time to explore new opportunities like Stories and shoppable ads so you know what works when things pick up in November.

The future belongs to businesses that can remove friction for customers at every stage of their shopping journey. This summer, retailers have the opportunity to create a less stressful holiday season by doing just that. There’s more information on how to prepare for the holidays at the Facebook for Business Holiday Hub.

As group lead, Eva Press leads Facebook’s sales and account teams in the U.S. for the CPG, healthcare and retail verticals. She and her teams focus on partnering with large, complex traditional advertisers to navigate the disruptions that are shaping the marketing landscape.