Customer Experience News & Trends

The surprising upside of nasty winter weather

Most people don’t like the unprecedented cold, excessive snowfalls and unpredictable ice storms, but there’s an upside: They create the perfect opportunity for businesses to wow customers.

“Climate commerce” spiked when temperatures plummeted this winter, according to new research from IBM Digital Analytics. Online shopping coming from the Northeast during two major storms it faced in February increased more than 20%.


  • On February 2, the Northeast accounted for almost 25% of online sales in the United States — a 25% increase over the previous, non-storm Monday.
  • On February 8 — another storm-ridden Monday in the Northeast — shoppers there accounted for almost a quarter of all online sales in the United States, which was a 23% increase over the previous, non-storm Monday.

What they use

When the weather’s bad, customers turn to their tablets and mobile devices — both had increased usage on those storm-ridden days — as much as they turn to their shovels and scarves.

Just because it’s cold outside and customers are hankering for some retail therapy doesn’t mean they’ll put up with a sub-par online shopping experience. In fact, because they might have more time inside, they’re more likely willing to shop around.

Make it easier to shop

So you want to make sure your site makes it easy to browse, click and buy. You also want to avoid the top reasons customers abandon online shopping carts — regardless of the weather conditions.

Several organizations over the past few years have researched shopping cart abandonment, and this is what causes it most of the time, according to data gathered by

  1. Complications. If customers have to fill out too many fields — pretty much anything beyond their name, address and credit card numbers — they’ll give up on the process. Once you’ve established a relationship and can communicate via email, you can ask more questions.
  2. High cost or low priority shipping. If customers can make choices quickly online, they expect that their choices will arrive to them quickly — and inexpensively. Free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount is practically the norm now. If they want it faster, many customers are OK if you charge a nominal fee.
  3. Forced socialization. Many customers won’t buy if they’re forced to create an account. They want an anonymous relationship, and if you won’t let them do business that way, they won’t buy. Ask them to opt-in to your email list or promotions after they’ve purchased.
  4. Lack of payment options. Customers need options when it’s time to pay. Some need PayPal. Others want credit cards. If you don’t offer both — and possibly more — they’ll find a company that does.
  5. Coupon codes. If customers see a box that accepts coupon or promotional codes, and they don’t have one, they’ll drop their items and find a site that gives them a discount. Only include a coupon or promotional code box if the codes are plentiful.

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