Tech Viewpoint: Three reasons Christmas Tree Shops should reconsider e-commerce

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Tech Viewpoint: Three reasons Christmas Tree Shops should reconsider e-commerce

By Dan Berthiaume - 09/13/2019
Christmas Tree Shops may regret its decision to eliminate selling goods online.

As recently reported in Chain Store Age, Christmas Tree Shops quietly exited e-commerce at the beginning of the summer. The retailer of bargain-priced home décor and seasonal items still allows customers to browse its site for content such as product previews, trends and tips.

According to Christmas Tree Shops, customer desire for an exciting, “treasure hunt”-like shopping experience led to its curtailing online sales. But the retailer may have moved ahead with this decision too soon. Here are three reasons for Christmas Tree Shops to seriously look at returning to full e-commerce operations.

Hunt for treasure – across channels
Any retailer whose customers consider its in-store shopping experience as a “treasure hunt” has a valuable asset indeed. However, a properly leveraged e-commerce component can intensify the engagement shoppers feel in a Christmas Tree Shops store.

For example, customers could purchase items online and then receive emailed or texted clues to locate them in-store, already packaged and waiting. Or by achieving a certain score in an online game, shoppers could unlock personalized discounts to use during their next store expedition. In the age of seamless retailing, e-commerce should be viewed as an enhancer, not a cannibalizer, of in-store sales.

Store stock safety net
Many of the products Christmas Tree Shops sells are seasonal, special offers, or otherwise only available for a short period. While these items may help drive store traffic and make for a more exciting shopping experience, they also can help create a negative customer impression.

A time-starved shopper who takes time from their busy schedule to visit their local Christmas Tree Shops for a particular limited-time item, only to discover it is sold out, will not feel the thrill of the hunt. However, if that same shopper were able to check availability of and purchase items online for in-store pickup, or could place online orders for out-of-stock goods from the store, it would help ensure everyone can share in the excitement.

Sell the boring stuff
Even a retailer with the whimsical brand image of Christmas Tree Shops sells napkins, plates, cups, and other dull, everyday items. Customers who come to a Christmas Tree Shops store looking for a fun, surprising shopping experience probably aren’t stocking up on plastic dinnerware.

All this “boring stuff” is perfect online inventory. Christmas Tree Shops could even take a few unexciting but essential staples and make them available only via its e-commerce site, freeing valuable shelf space for the eye-grabbing special items.

Bonus suggestion: Monetize Instagram
I will briefly mention that Christmas Tree Shops has a robust and well-crafted Instagram presence, complete with user-generated content of shoppers showing off their favorite purchases. The retailer should strongly consider leveraging this presence into a direct-to-consumer sales platform with Instagram’s rapidly expanding set of social retailing tools.