How brands can give customers the gift of buyer confidence this holiday season


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We’ve all seen the headlines on how rising living costs are impacting US consumer confidence.
And it’s no surprise. With food prices, energy bills, and interest rates increasing at the fastest rate in 40 years, anxious US consumers are feeling the pressure like never before. That means less money in their pockets, forcing them to be more selective with their purchases.

The challenge for brands is knowing how to support their customers while still making sales and meeting revenue goals. And the crucial period leading up to the end of the year is critical to hitting those goals, with the upcoming holiday season expected to deliver the majority of annual sales.

It’s not just Christmas fueling the rise in consumer spending at this time of year. Toss in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the second Prime Day Amazon introduced in mid-October, and it all adds up. Factor in growing consumer anxiety, and it’s clear to see this year’s holiday season promises to be more challenging than ever.

So how can retailers and manufacturers still hit revenue goals this holiday season despite this growing anxiety? It all centers on digital touchpoints, and how brands can build critical trust with their online customers through better information and the right product stories.

Here are three ways to give the gift of buyer confidence this holiday season.

Tell the right story across the digital shelf

Everyone loves a feel-good story around the holidays – and that includes shoppers on the digital shelf. You’ve probably heard about product stories before, but what does that actually mean? And why are they important?

Let’s start with the why. According to inriver’s latest e-commerce report, Inside the mind of an online shopper, only 9% of US shoppers start their online search on a major search engine like Google. That means brands need to craft a product story that gets told across the digital shelf. But how?

First, every tale needs a good hero. That’s the product. Every good hero also needs an origin story. On the digital shelf, this is the product information, such as images, videos, short-form and long-form descriptions, size guides, compatibility specs, and much more. Our data shows 89% of US shoppers think this is important or essential, so be generous and make sure all the information is as high quality and accurate as possible.

A good hero also needs credibility. On the digital shelf, this can be either the product descriptions or the customer reviews. A whopping 52% of US shoppers said they feel “frustrated” when they read bad or inaccurate descriptions while it makes 41% downright angry. As for reviews, those are also an important detail in a product listing. Having at least five positive comments can significantly boost conversions and give your product story a fairytale ending.

Take away the uncertainty

The holiday season might be about giving, but brands should be taking away the uncertainty if they’re considering the perfect gift for shoppers. Product uncertainty, stock issues, and delivery delays all fuel customer anxiety – and make them less likely to buy.

More selective shoppers want increased certainty about what they’re buying. Our report shows a quarter of US shoppers return products because they aren’t as described. A further 17% return items because they don’t like the fit. That’s a lot of costly product returns for retailers.

To reduce returns and build a digital shelf customers trust, it is essential brands equip their product listings with reliable data. Optimized content, size guide charts, and multimedia assets like videos, images, and immersive AR (augmented reality) can give shoppers confidence what they see is what they’ll get.

Of course, a certain degree of uncertainty will remain. Delays in delivery, for example, are typically outside the control of brands. However, with a digital shelf customers have confidence in, brands know when their products do arrive, it will be worth the wait.

Remember sustainability is for life, not just for Christmas

Even as seasons are changing, the digital shelf remains increasingly evergreen. Sustainability is nothing new in retail, and eco-credentials are now top of the holiday season wish list.

Our data shows a whopping 83% of US shoppers think a product’s eco-credentials are important or essential on the digital shelf. And that means all products. It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying coats, consoles, or kitchen counters, green is definitely in-fashion this winter.

It is clear brands should make sustainability a key tenet of any digital shelf, with a product’s eco-credentials front and center. This includes raw material sourcing, labor practices, and any recycled material, to name just a few. It should also include local sustainability regulations, if applicable.

And remember, too, sustainability goes beyond the digital shelf. For a green-minded buying journey, brands should consider recyclable packaging and carbon-neutral delivery to bring a more sustainable product story into a customer’s home.

PIM: the gift that keeps on giving

For brands looking to build confidence in their digital shelf, there are several options. For example, brands can manually audit and update product listings across their customer touchpoints. Alternatively, they can integrate the latest software innovations into their company tech stack.

One of these software solutions is product information management (PIM). A PIM solution equips all brands – from manufacturers to retailers – with a single source of product data truth. This can then be crafted into reliable, accurate product stories and distributed across the digital shelf. Some also offer digital shelf analytics, allowing brands to monitor product performance with real-time, actionable insight.

With this year’s holiday season shaping up to be the most challenging yet, it’s never too late for brands to build a better digital shelf that meets the moment. One that not only gives customers the gift of buyer confidence but also ensures brands aren’t left with a holiday season hangover.

For more information on the benefits of PIM, visit

Niels Stenfeldt
Niels has more than 20 years of tech leadership experience in scaling high-growth, B2B companies like Esko (a Danaher Company), Stibo Systems, Oracle, SAP, OpenText, and Boyum-IT Solutions (Acquired by Volpi Capital), where he still serves as chairman. In addition, he is a specially appointed member of The Danish Business Regulation Forum where he advises the Danish government on future business-oriented EU regulation – particularly regarding the new EU data act, green taxonomy and GDPR, all relevant topics for his board role at inriver.


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