With Halloween in the rearview mirror, there is an open road of holiday shopping ahead. That means it’s time to capitalize on the largest shopping season of the year. Not only has the length of the season extended, but this year’s consumers are forecasted to spend $780 on gifts, and retail sales (excluding automotive, gas, and restaurants) are expected to rise 3.6 percent, according to the National Retail Federation.
Companies would be wise to focus on operations and execution this time of year, because presents aren’t going to be the only thing unwrapping this December. There are some trends to look out for to stay on consumers like ugly sweaters during the holidays.
The Evolution Of The Supershopper
We all know that one person who always seems to be in the know about the must-have products, the latest brands, and where the best deals are hiding. Thanks to Google, we now know why this enigma is a reality. Supershoppers are always on a “quest for the best,” so don’t expect their loyalty to stick to just one brand. Last year, more than 50 percent of holiday shoppers said they were open to purchasing from new retailers. Say you want to spoil dad with a Chicago Cubs hat, but when you search in Amazon more than 8,000 options show … how do you choose?! By searching for the “best” product out there. Last year, one of the top three actions taken by shoppers was reading reviews on mobile. If there is a pattern of concern throughout your reviews, reach out to those individuals and work to eliminate the underlying problem ASAP. Don’t let shoppers move on because your social care or community managers weren’t prepared for the holiday heat. When consumers are ready to buy, mobile is part of the equation to not only make purchase decisions, but to discover new brands as well.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile!
Foot traffic in a physical store is old news. 71 percent of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online, which is why creating thumb-stopping content is a must. But to make sure consumers convert browsing to buying, remove barriers and improve user experience. Technology only serves a purpose if it’s solving problems … not creating them. Shopping happens everywhere: in stores, online, and online in stores. In fact, 76 percent of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase. As easy as it is to press checkout online, consumers still relish the idea of holding a physical product. Just as shoppers want the product to be the same online as in stores, they want their experience to be cohesive as well.
When you put focus on the interaction rather than the transaction, consumers experience a seamless flow of your brand. Stop trying to be everywhere, and be where it matters. Not only does this benefit the shopper, but it eliminates wasted time and money. To boost conversions, leverage all marketing opportunities, like decorating your website and brick-and-mortar store with the same holiday feel. Increase conversions even more with email marketing; it was the number one driver of holiday sales in 2015, according to NRF. Direct shoppers to buy in person with in-store sales originally announced online, or when a web purchase is made, allow a “ship to store” option. Think outside the box when it comes to integrating online and in-person interactions. To efficiently guide consumers down the funnel, there must be a historical understanding of their habits, which requires Big Data at the individual level. Social, email, affiliate, etc. will support a true omnichannel experience.
One Brand. One Customer. Individualized Everything.
The ability to humanize a brand, and let customers know their loyalty is appreciated will benefit companies this holiday season in the long term. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent compared to the probability of selling to a new customer which is 5-20 percent. Ads need to be impactful to the right people. When you put Big Data to work, you can show products that consumers didn’t know they wanted yesterday. Holiday season is the perfect time to share the gift of targeted discounts. Don’t be flushed out by rising advertising costs or holiday waves. Take a list of customers/prospects to connect with and offer deals they can’t resist. Based on last year’s purchases and Big Data, serve personalized ads when consumers come into radius of brick-and-mortar stores or competitors. It’s more beneficial to apply targeted discounts instead of generic mass targeting, since 69 percent of consumers prefer personalized communications, stated Jeff Berry, Senior Director of Research and Development at Loyalty One.
The New Influencers
Yes, celebrities are great when it comes to getting a brand in front of a mass amount of people, but take into consideration what type of influencer is right to increase brand awareness. Talk is cheap, but actions are priceless … let consumers be the new influencers. Millennials rely on their families and friends when choosing their favorite stores. When the time comes to shop with a retailer, 45 percent of younger millennials trust vloggers over celebrities, according to Berry. Video isn’t the only platform to debut holiday gift guides. Content creators with a visual e-commerce presence on social sites like Pinterest and Instagram offer consumers inspiration as well. Drew Sanocki from the Empire Growth Group advises brands to prepare unique personal content for different mediums, go to where people are not branded, but honest. Keep the loyalty loop circulating this holiday season with interesting collaborations, and plugging your brand in unexpected places.
Tis the Season
While everyone is prematurely putting up holiday decorations and planning their New Years outfits, make sure you’re next in line when it comes to the perfect presentation. This is peak season and the competition is high, so how does your brand outshine the others? To get long-term consumer retention and boost conversions in Q1 after a hectic Q4, break the ad barrier with unique messaging, timing or mode of contact, or throw in some humor.
Where customers are shopping is less important than how they are getting there. Businesses need to simplify the path to purchase and reduce barriers to transacting. Every moment matters and with a heightened need for cross device marketing, make sure your brand is there to show buyers the way. This holiday season, give the gift of experience not for revenue, but to build more fans that will become loyal to your brand.