How Did Your eCommerce Platform Shape Up This Holiday Season?
State of Digital | Industry Savvy

How Did Your eCommerce Platform Shape Up This Holiday Season?

on / by Robyn Collinge

The holiday season may be done and dusted for another year. But for retailers, particularly online, the January downtime is actually a key moment for reflection. How did your ecommerce platform perform during the 2017 holiday season? And, more importantly, how can you ensure it does even better this year?

The numbers are in (and they’re record-breaking!)

As Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President of Market Insights at Mastercard, summarized at the end of 2017, “Overall, this year was a big win for retail.”

The global payments and technology company reported that retailers saw the best holiday season since 2011 with sales jumping 4.9% and ecommerce surging an impressive 18.1%. The analysis attributed the good news to an increase in early sales; sales in the first three weeks of November were 18% higher than they were in the same period in 2016. In fact, online sales from November 1 through 22 totaled almost $30.4 billion this year, accounting for nearly 18% year-over-year growth.

ecommerce holiday season

But it’s not just Mastercard reporting such a high turnover for e-retailers. Amazon was also quick to announce it’s record-breaking holiday season, with more than 1 billion items ordered worldwide. Plus, email marketing giant, MailChimp, saw customers with connected ecommerce stores generate almost $6 billion in online sales throughout the 2017 holiday season – that’s $3.5 billion up from last year!

Ecommerce customer expectation is higher than ever

Although this impressive hike in revenue is great news for online retailers as they kick off 2018, it also suggests that customer expectation is higher than ever.

For example, alongside it’s record-breaking revenue, Amazon reported that in a single week more than 4 million people signed up for an Amazon Prime trial – a premium membership that comes with expedited shipping among other benefits.

Today’s online shoppers are used to getting what they want at the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen, and they aren’t willing to wait around for it.

ecommerce 2018

Forrester has gone as far to claim that 2018 will be the year of reckoning for ecommerce and retail platforms. Their recent report explains, “Unmet customer expectations are resulting in churn; the lack of digital transformation gains is translating to loss of market share; and longstanding, durable business models are failing.”

So, how can you prepare for the year ahead?

Top tips to optimize for 2018

Using our optimization expertize we’ve put together the following 3 tips. Make the time now to implement these changes and your online retail platforms will be in tip-top condition by the time Michael Buble hits the soundwaves once more.

Make changes based on data

Be smart with your optimization efforts for the year ahead and base them on real, tangible data sets.

voice of customer example

Implementing a Voice of Customer (VoC) solution enables you to collect qualitative data in the form of user feedback across your digital channels. Opening the channel of communication with your customers can help you to identify any bugs and issues, as well as remove unnecessary friction and barriers to conversions. All of which will streamline a shopper’s journey to the checkout by the time the holiday season hits.

Once you’ve optimized the customer journey, take your data one step further and use real-time insights to outsmart your competitors. By integrating Usabilla with a session recording platform such as Clicktale, Tealeaf, or Decibel Insight, you can easily pair feedback items with session recordings to get an in-depth and full understanding of the user journey. By knowing exactly what your customer is doing, you can optimize customer engagement in real-time for higher conversion and customer retention.

Personalize your customer experience

According to Forrester’s ‘Top Tech Investments For Retailers’, more than 3 in 4 American consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.

ecommerce 2018

This means over 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

Think about how to best personalize your holiday promotions and deals in a way that provides meaningful value to customers.

In 2018, an email marketing campaign is no longer enough. Just think of all the holiday spam that infiltrates our inboxes between November and January – not to mention all those shipping, delivery, and returns notifications. Instead, target consumers with promotional codes or freebies in the space of your website or app. These can be in the form of a subtle slide out campaign powered by a Voice of Customer solution like our own.

ecommerce personalization

What’s more, if you already use a data management platform (DMP) such as Tealium or Relay 42, you can combine your findings with Usabilla and your data layer to deliver a highly personalized customer experience. React to mood score in real-time (e.g. by offering a promotional slide-out to dissatisfied customers), create personalized product pages, and use live data to follow up with users instantly!

Focus on all channels and devices

In 2017, the average number of connected devices per person reached 4.1, almost double the 2.2 from 2012. So, it’s no surprise that the companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers.

ecommerce omnichannel

In 2018, having an omnichannel strategy means much more than being mobile responsible. You need to make sure your retail platform looks good on all screen sizes, including larger than standard. Remember, this year’s holiday shoppers will have the luxury of browsing where and how they want – whether that’s on a smartphone or a smart TV.

However, this doesn’t mean that retailers can overlook mobile shopping apps. According to a Walker Sands study, 65% of consumers have shopping apps on their phones and just as many (66%) have made a purchase through a mobile app.

With a sophisticated VoC app solution, you can target a specific user journey, behavior, or status based on completely custom events. This means you can trigger non-intrusive surveys based on the actions a user does, or does not, take.

in-app surveys

Running in-app surveys like this enables you to deep dive into conversion barriers such as shopping cart abandonment, but also allows you to go the extra mile with customer experience. For example, using the user data your app provides you could reach out to users when a specific event occurs, such as “Your package was delivered today, how do your new shoes fit?”

In short, 2018 is about getting the right information to the right customers at the right time, all optimized for the right sized screen.


With global e-retail sales projected to grow to $4.48 trillion by 2021, knowing how to meet the growing demands of your online customers is imperative, particularly throughout the holiday season.

You need a solid strategy in place that will see you from Gray November and safely out of the other end of the January sales. And having a VoC solution in place will certainly give you a headstart.

For more insights about 2018 is going to bring, check out our free webinar ‘Customer Centricity in Retail: Are You In or Out?’ or download our ebook to see the brands that are already getting it right.

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Article by

Robyn Collinge

As Usabilla's Copywriter, Robyn brings nice words together - like peanut butter, napping, and Sunday brunch.

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