UK Retailers Unready for Holiday Shopping Rush Traffic, Even With Mobile Payments

September 23, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

It’s known by several names. Commonly in the US, it’s the “Christmas / holiday shopping season,” or for the snarkier, the “Christmahanakwanza Spend Phase.” In the UK, it’s called the “Golden Quarter” for surprisingly clear reasons. Whatever you call it, a new report from Marketingsignals.com sent our way reveals that this Golden Quarter may be merely gilt for UK retailers.

According to the report, nearly one in three—32 percent—of retailers admit their website isn’t ready for the upswing in traffic that will likely follow the last quarter of 2019. Worse yet, nearly one in five—18 percent—note that they haven’t even finished planning for the Golden Quarter, putting them at a serious disadvantage going into the holiday rush.

More specific issues in this lack of readiness abound; 43 percent have yet to stage load testing on their sites to ensure that the expanded traffic can take place, and 38 percent haven’t successfully finished putting together imagery and descriptions for new products, meaning that even if the website could take the load, there would be little new to show. 

Some problems are a little less of an issue; 31 percent haven’t readied their search engine optimization (SEO) and their pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns. Another 27 percent haven’t set up website analytics systems yet to take advantage of the massive influx of new data, and 18 percent haven’t yet updated their user experience (UX) for optimal results.

It is a significant step for retailers that they’ve gone from 39 percent unprepared to merely 32 percent, but this is still like saying that they’ve stopped hitting customers with sledgehammers and have instead switched to the more responsible drywall hammer instead. Granted, some elements of this “unpreparedness” are a little less crucial than others—a less-than-optimized UX or a lack of analytics will hardly slow down shoppers—but any hiccup along the way can result in lost sales, and potentially permanently lost business.

A Salesforce study found that 74 percent of customers will switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult, so let that point color these preparations. Mobile payments will be a great help going forward, but given the troubles seen so far, there may be a lot of coal in retailers’ stockings this year.