Customers are for life, not just for Christmas: How retailers can convert gift shoppers into regular customers

In 2017 it was reported that an estimated £19 billion had been spent on Christmas presents in the UK. The pattern also showed a steady curve into January with sales remaining strong with little decline in the January sales.

Most retailers’ see a surge in sales leading up to Christmas and usually from two sets of customers'. The first is the brand loyal customer, who buys regularly and the other is the one-time gift shopper, usually buying for a friend, relative or partner.

As one-time shoppers, they will have no real desire or intention to revisit your website or store, however, by capturing their attention early and having the technology enabled to study their preferences, search, personal profile and buying behaviour, you may inspire them to browse again for their own needs.

A lot of retailers do this well with the use of promotional offers to encourage repeat purchasing from first-time buyers and encouraging them to their website or in-store. Once they have acted on the promotion, track their journey to build up a fuller picture of their unique user profile. You can use this to target them with more relevant and personal messages in future, through a range of channels including digital advertising and remarketing.

A large number of retailers would benefit from building close relationships with gift shoppers early in the purchasing period, and not only focusing on their regular customers. It is well commented that if more retailers were to remarket to gift shoppers after the Christmas period, there is a much greater chance of those gift shoppers converting into regular customers.

Brand loyalty is one of the most important aspects to consider when aiming to convert gift shoppers to regular customers. It is also vital that you build trust with gift shoppers with the security of their information. Another way to help build trust is to also consider prominent and visible reviews of your brand and products online and in-store.

It is important for retailers to ensure they are being as transparent as this will help to nurture that all important trust for that first time gift buyer. At the checkout stage, you can expand on this further by showing recognisable e-commerce trust marks to highlight your credibility.

Once you’ve successfully converted a sale from a gift-buying customer, then you are then able to turn your attention to their personal shopping intent. Start trying to build up a picture of what it is they are personally interested in. You can do this by analysing their profile (e.g. demographic information) as well as their behaviours (e.g. browsing history and purchasing history).

The important focus for online retailers is to ensure that they follow up with them during the buying process you are able to understand what the customer wants as well as the person (s) they are purchasing for. This can be achieved using product recommendations and relatable messaging that is closely linked to their intent for future purchasing.

The other key aspect of converting gift customers into regular buyers is to ensure you are not pushing too hard to convert early on but you should focus more on making the first experience, a seamless one. One way in which you can do this is by offering guest checkout where possible. You can always remarket to the customer at a later stage.

While not every one-time gift shopper that visits your site will be relevant in the future, there will be a high percentage of visitors with a potential to become returning customers. As tempting as it may be to simply rely on them returning, you need to ensure their first visit is seamless and you leave a positive lasting impression of your brand. Only then will you inspire gift purchasers to return.

KFP Total IT Solutions aims to provide value to its readers by posting interesting industry news and updates. If you are a retailer that wishes to discuss your retail infrastructure plans in the new year, you can get in touch with us on +44 (0) 1235 539101