November 16, 2016

Are You Ready for the On-Demand Holiday Season?


This is the season of holiday shopping on demand. And both online and offline retailers are more prepared than ever, thanks to the impact of catalysts such as Amazon, Google, and Uber. How prepared are you?

The Digital Giants Speak

In recent months, we’ve seen online platforms ranging from Instagram to Pinterest launch functions such as buy buttons that make it easier to buy products during micro-moments of discovery, when consumers use their mobile phones to decide what to buy and where. Most recently, Facebook introduced new call-to-action buttons, including order food, request an appointment, and get a quote — allowing users to take action faster after they’ve found where they want to go or do.  

Pinterest indicates that since the app launched a product discovery and shopping functionality, 55 percent of Pinterest users have used Pinterest for this purpose. Finding and shopping for products is the second most popular activity on Pinterest. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to modify its Echo device that shoppers can use to buy products and have them delivered to their homes via voice commands. The Echo Dot, which was released October 20 (just in time for holiday shopping), is a more affordable version of Echo that uses intelligent assistant Alexa to help consumers do everything from control their home devices to use on-demand services. Not to be outdone, on November 4, Google released its highly anticipated Echo competitor, Google Home, which offers the ability to have a more contextual, intelligent conversation (e.g., “Where’s the closest place I can see Rogue One and buy Star Wars LEGO watches, too?”).

And those examples constitute the tip of the iceberg.

Brick-and-Mortar Businesses Have Their Say

Smart brick-and-mortar merchants and their partners are taking matters into their own hands by launching their own on-demand services. To wit:

  • Cole Haan and Nordstrom are among the name-brand businesses partnering with UberRUSH to offer same-day delivery of products directly to consumers’ doorsteps.
  • Earlier in 2016, Walmart announced the launch of an in-house on-demand service that relies on ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to make it possible for customers to place orders online, designate a delivery window, and have their orders fulfilled and delivered.
  • In August, SIM Partners rolled out an API that our clients can use to add a “Ride There with Uber” button to their location pages. The Ride There with Uber button makes it easier for shoppers to get to an offline destination, which is especially useful if they find something on a location page that they want to buy, prefer to go to the store for pick-up and perhaps additional browsing, and need a ride ASAP.

As we have noted on our blog, brick-and-mortar retailers need to act now in order to make sure that shoppers are aware of any on-demand services they offer. For instance, retailers should optimize the content on their location pages to promote their services, whether they consist of gift wrapping, delivery, or in-store pick-up for online orders. When consumers use their mobile phones, Echo, or Google Home devices to do a nearby search for Zootopia stuffies, retailers’ location pages should tell them not only that they have them in stock but whether they can wrap and deliver the toys. Retailers should also complement their organic content by investing in paid advertising, such as paid search, to promote their services.

If you lack on-demand services for your offline locations, consider acting with a partner such as SIM Partners that can help you scale quickly with functionality such as a Ride There with Uber button. If you already offer such services, make sure shoppers know about them as the holiday season approaches. Contact us — we’d love to discuss how we can help you.

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