As we know, consumer shopping behavior this holiday season will be quite different than previous years. One particular area of change will be the traditional window-shopping experience that comes with the holiday season. This year, family and friends won’t gather together for trips to the mall, shopping centers, or department stores to discover gifting inspiration. So, the joy of pressing our noses up to glass cases filled with snowflakes, holiday spirit, and the items on our wish lists will have to move to the screen.
With the COVID pandemic still significantly affecting the U.S., 36% of U.S. adults say they'll be shopping online more frequently this year due to the outbreak, and 42% plan to spend less time at physical stores. Additionally, 88% of people plan to continue purchasing gifts online and sending them to recipients through the remainder of the year.
As consumers reshape their shopping habits, specifically, being less comfortable shopping in-person at malls or department stores, they're turning to digital window-shopping experiences to find inspiration for gifts, at-home activities, and more. The pandemic will continue to have a tremendous impact on how people shop, and this holiday season will create a new landscape for both customers and brands.
Currently, stores like REI have restructured their customer in-store shopping experience by using an in-and-out floor plan. Shoppers are led through one-path isles and assisted by employees to help them find the items they need to cycle customers in and out of the store as efficiently as possible. Along with updating store layout, offering customers contactless ways of shopping is essential for those looking to limit their time around others. Buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) rates doubled in growth compared to pre-COVID averages, showing that users make purchase decisions from home much more frequently.
As consumers look for more convenience and safety in their shopping journey, they're turning to online resources, specifically mobile, to find an alternative window to peruse products and solutions.
“Recreate the window shopping or in-store experience by showing up where people go to browse. Invest in beautiful product imagery and video that makes online shoppers feel less stuck and more inspired.” – Pinterest, Earlier Than Ever: Holiday 2020
With this in mind, improving your organic social presence to meet your customers where they are is vital this season. Below, you'll find a few organic and paid tactics to help facilitate the holiday shopping and inspirational experience for your customers on Facebook and Pinterest.
How to Build Your Brand’s Digital Window
Spark Inspiration Through Pinterest Boards – Organic
Brands can use Pinterest to create an immersive, festive shopping experience through boards so Pinners can discover products to purchase for the holidays. Our client, Wine Enthusiast, developed a "Holiday 2020" board as a resource to help Pinners plan virtual holiday get-togethers, browse gift ideas for their loved ones, or glean inspiration for decorations to get into the holiday spirit.
We recommend building a similar holiday board for your brand, which will help showcase the products you expect to do well and align with Pinterest's anticipated 2020 trends.
Here are some tips to help you plan out your Holiday 2020 board:
Identify top Trends on Pinterest regarding products and solutions sought after, and then incorporate the products that speak to those trends.
Use Collection Pins that incorporate both lifestyle and product-specific imagery to help educate and inspire.
Write catchy titles and descriptive copy to help your pins stand out and match organically to searches.
Include a clear call-to-action to motivate Pinners to add your pin to their boards, follow you, or visit your website.
Use multiple boards to organize vast offerings into different holiday focuses.
Showcase and Sell Products with Facebook and Instagram Shops – Organic and Paid
With 11% of U.S. social media users shopping on Instagram, adding Instagram Shops to your holiday ecommerce strategy is a must to grow brand discovery. Additionally, Facebook Shops has just announced that it will be available for all marketers and will further allow you to create a seamless shopping experience across both platforms.
As discussed in one of our previous articles, Facebook and Instagram Shops are similar but offer a few different aesthetic focuses based on the platform. With Shops, you can really create the initial window-shopping experience to help drive traffic to the digital storefront.
On Instagram, users can find your Shop by coming across your organic shopping posts, Stories with a product tag, or by visiting your profile. Here’s how West Elm created a festive scene in their organic post while guiding users directly to the products in Instagram Shops through product tags:
These posts are organic, but with paid options, they can lend themselves well to driving a wider reach.
Instagram recently began testing three new layouts with dedicated home-screen shortcuts for the shopping section. This layout change marks the first time Instagram has used prominent placement to promote the shopping section, a move the company believes is reflective of how people are using the app today.
The new layouts are still in the testing phase, and user-response is to be determined. However, this shouldn't dissuade advertisers from adopting Instagram shopping today. Giving Shopping its own tab will likely boost usage of this in-app feature just in time for the holidays.
For Facebook, the store itself is where the creative magic happens. Brands can customize the Shop's look and feel through festive cover imagery and accent colors that follow your brand guidelines. You're able to segment products however you wish, allowing you to create holiday bundles that shoppers can save for later use.
Another bonus is that you can communicate with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct to answer customer service questions. Use this feature during the holidays to connect with people who have questions about product availability, shipping, or other problems. Staying in touch with your customers and using these tools to provide them with quick solutions can help build brand loyalty.
Here are a few quick tips to consider as you plan to use Shops this holiday season:
Get both the Instagram and Facebook Shops set up ahead of time. You'll need to use their Commerce Manager if you plan to take advantage of the Checkout functionality.
Devise a plan for what products you'd like to showcase in holiday posts to drive traffic to the digital stores.
Use product tags to highlight the items in your shop and include a caption to let customers know if you have any upcoming deals, product releases, or gift bundles they should keep an eye out for.
Most importantly, check that you link each listing to a relevant product page on your website so your customers can enjoy a smooth checkout process.
Improve Your Mobile Presence with Facebook Instant Experiences – Paid
Facebook Instant Experiences are mobile-friendly ads that can capture your audience's attention with interactive visuals. These are some features advertisers can use in their Instant Experiences:
Videos and photos
Tilt to pan
According to Facebook, 55% of people are more likely to make a mobile purchase this holiday season. Designing Instant Experiences is a creative way to display your products outside of a store. Begin by using the designated mobile templates. These templates are designed to help you acquire new customers, amplify your business, inspire mobile shopping, or drive brand awareness. These are the available formats:
Instant Storefront: Use a grid layout to show people several products in one place.
Instant Form: Allow customers to share their contact information with you if they want more information.
Instant Customer Acquisition: Get people to take action with a mobile landing page to drive conversions.
Instant Storytelling: Capture people's attention to get them engaging with your brand, product, or service.
Instant Lookbook: Show your products in action through photos.
Boost Engagement with Creative Social Media Content – Organic and Paid
With social media constantly evolving, there are so many interactive features brands can use to spruce up their social content to connect with their customers for the holiday season. Live video is one of the most engaging ways to interact with people on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Make the most of your time by holding a Q&A, collaborating with an influencer, walking viewers through a BTS shot of a project, or even teaching your customers how they can use a product with a how-to tutorial. There are so many routes you can take with live streams. Make sure you plan ahead of time, let your followers know when you will be going live, and check that your platforms won't have any technical issues.
Aside from live videos, augmented reality (A.R.) filters are a fun way to increase awareness of your product or brand on Instagram. Vessi, a DTC waterproof shoe brand, created a filter on Snapchat to help customers visualize how their new casual sneakers would look on their feet. It allows a user to flip through the different colored shoe options from the comfort of their own home.
Using AR is the perfect way to get customers interested in your products without them ever stepping in a store. And, if you are strictly selling online like Vessi, using these filters on Instagram is ideal for customers who are hesitant about committing to a purchase without seeing it in person first. If you're interested in creating your own A.R. filters, Spark AR is a tool you can use to create your own augmented reality experiences.
Begin Developing Your Digital Customer Experiences Today
People will not be spending the holidays with friends and family like they typically do, so brands must think about how they can offer their customers a unique holiday shopping experience away from stores, that still enables them to feel connected. Investing in organic or paid Pinterest and Facebook tools will allow you to do just that by creating boards, shopping catalogs, and interactive content. If you're looking for a partner to help you get your social strategy ready for this unusual holiday season, contact our experts at Adlucent!