Christmas Comes Early: Five ecommerce tools retailers need to implement in July to be ready for the festive season

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By Chris Boaz, Head of Marketing at PCA Predict (a GBG Company).

Retailers around the UK know that summer is the ideal time to begin the build-up to the Christmas season. When should they start though? Considering that 26% of UK consumers begin hunting for the perfect Christmas gifts come August, July would seem like the ideal time to prepare.

Whatever your goal as a retailer is, from increasing revenue, retaining shoppers or reaching new consumers, there's a number of tools out there to give you the edge in the lead up to holiday shopping madness. Here are five tools retailers should have on their own holiday shopping list.

Personalisation Platforms

Personalising your customers' experience is crucial to keeping shoppers engaged and avoiding cart abandonment while maintaining brand consistency online. You'll want to make sure you're using a platform that is flexible and responsive, like Nosto's.

Nosto's platform enables retailers to build, launch and adapt quickly to carry out highly-targeted marketing campaigns without relying on other dedicated IT resources. It also can be used by virtually any ecommerce provider's website to make integration even easier.

Address validation

Optimising your checkout process to be quick and easy is a simple way to ensure that customers complete the checkout process. Including auto-complete options and capturing data for future transactions are a few ways to increase the odds of repeat customers and build better returns for businesses.

PCA Predict's Capture+ technology removes friction on web forms, making it quicker and easier for customers to auto-complete addresses while capturing valid email, mobile numbers and delivery addresses in real-time. This means that customers have a better overall online shopping experience businesses see more returns on their investments.

Inventory Management Software

Ecommerce is all about integration - for both the consumer and the retailer. Streamlining your business across channels and making sure everything is integrated into one hub helps to manage sales across various ecommerce platforms in real time.

Brightpearl's online inventory management software consolidates online sales, POS, purchasing, CRM, inventory and financials in a single system combined with automated accounting software to monitor and record purchase orders, profits, revenues and spend.

Abandonment Surveys

A recent study found that 47% of consumers abandon online purchases. With consumers walking away from the situation and often never feeding back as to what the problem was, it can leave online retailers scratching their heads looking for ways to improve customer retention.

SaleCycle's Abandonment Survey approaches this ever-present problem by pushing out an email to anyone who has left their cart asking why they didn't complete their purchase. From there, data is collected and collated so that retailers can realign their websites accordingly, leading to a higher conversion rate and more repeat and return customers.

Reward Programmes

What better way to keep your customers coming back for more than to thank them with a rewards programme? Instituting such a programme also means that people will be more likely to shop with you - leading to more loyal and engaged shoppers, as well as increased profits.

Smile.io powers award programmes for more than 15,000 retailers globally, providing highly customisable options for businesses to interact and reward their consumers in the most relevant way. They run some of the best reward programmes internationally including elf, Topps, and mpix.

With Christmas sales reaching £78 billion in 2016 in the UK, the opportunity on offer to those retailers who get their preparation right ahead of the festive rush will be the real winners.

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