5 priorities for retail executives to prepare for the peak shopping season


James McCormick

August 23, 2022 | 3 min read

Executive summertime focus: Prepare the online experience now for the peak shopping season

Summertime is not the time for e-commerce to take a break. In the aggregate, we are worse off from a customer experience (CX) perspective than before the pandemic.

Forrester’s CX indices have dropped from 2021 to 2022 in Europe, and they’ve not done much better elsewhere (Forrester CX EMEA 2022 Event). The story is not so much about rising customer expectations, but it’s one where brands have taken their “foot off the gas.”

While it may be tempting to slow down during this summer’s heat waves—don’t! Get ahead of the competition and prepare your online experiences now for the holiday peak season.

For peak online shopping season, retail executives must:

1. Beware of the retail headwinds this autumn season

The bump in the contribution of online sales caused by the last two years of the pandemic has meant that 79% of retailers have outperformed their digital commerce targets. But in 2022, only 27% of digital commerce leaders are expected to exceed performance expectations for revenue and profitability.

Retail execs must close the gap between expectations and reality by rigorously aligning C-level leaders now on what success looks like. Digital experience improvements must be used in mitigation by boosting digital ROI through every stage of the visitor journey: from landing pages to product pages to buying experiences, through to shopper experiences delivered as they consume services and products.

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2. Focus customer experience on eliciting the right emotion

Forrester calls out three dimensions of CX quality—effectiveness, ease, and emotion. However, emotion is key to differentiation. Retail execs must make sure their teams focus beyond traditional conversion and engagement metrics.

This summer retail execs must ensure that the right investment in insights, technology, and processes are in place to elicit and act on advanced insights such as digital customer frustration, happiness, and satisfaction throughout the customer’s online journey.

3. Use analytics and benchmarks to identify user  journeys

Retailers that create digital differentiation with their online experience have a common ability to prioritize visitor segments, journeys, and interactions. Retail execs must encourage their teams to use analytics to identify and prioritize important experiences and key moments. By doing so, their teams can better measure and optimize interactions that drive the most value for their customers.

Contentsquare’s 2022 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report shows that key retail areas to focus on for the 2022 peak season are simplifying buying journeys, improving mobile landing page experiences, and reducing page load times.

4. Bolster investment in enterprise CX analytics

According to Gartner’s The State of Digital Commerce report, most eCommerce leaders don’t feel they have enough analytics capabilities to drive their digital efforts. This is particularly true when it comes to CX analytics. The good news is that for these systems implementation times can be measured in weeks if not days and the time to gain valuable insights are correspondingly short.

There’s still time before the autumn code freezes for retail execs to boost their investment in CX analytics, which they can then use to identify and act on high-impact digital CX opportunities. And if you’re underinvested in this area, then you must use this time to catch up.

5. Boost experimentation culture and capabilities

As we approach the peak season, retail execs are challenged to balance an organization’s risk appetite versus willingness to disrupt the status quo further. To address this, 69% of leaders have adopted a test-and-learn approach to increase the organization’s risk appetite and belief in digital commerce according to Gartner.

Retail execs must follow suit and prepare their teams to optimize and innovate the shopper experience ahead of the peak season by a) allocating sufficient test-and-learn resources to bolster practice maturity, and b) integrating their experimentation practice tightly with their organization’s CX analytics capabilities.

2022 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report

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Preparing for the peak online shopping experience

As retail executives prepare for their summer break, they should be preparing their online experiences for the autumn peak season. Today, they should be setting realistic expectations on what can be achieved in 2022, while trying to overachieve by boosting investment experience optimization and innovation capabilities.

For further guidance on preparing for peak, download the 2022 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report.