Get Ahead of This Holiday Season

This year’s holiday season requires more advanced planning due to the changing face of retailing in particular and commerce in general.

Smart business leaders are already planning for the year end, which can be the difference between a so-so year and spectacular profits. 

One of the major changes in this current marketing world is a simple fact: the average customer has more ways of shopping than previous generations.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Today’s savvy customers are comfortable both online and in store.
  • They expect brands to deliver seamless sales experiences.
  • Mobile-based buying is strengthening.
  • The sales process revolves around the customers and their needs.
  • Products, services need to be there when they want them and no delays.
  • Customers are less loyal than previous generations.

With this in mind, here are some ideas on how to reach and satisfy more customers this holiday season and build lasting loyalty all year:

Enable on-demand, in-the-moment customer service: As much as possible integrate the in-store and online experience so shoppers can easily move between them. Insure they do not need to leave your purchasing venue(s) to get the item and price they want.

Store drives experience; digital delivers convenience: Despite the rapid growth in online purchasing the store experience still drives sales. Make the in-store experience as positive as possible. Poor customer service, hidden stock, long check-out lines hurt sales. Stay on top of crowd surges and determine heavy cashier times.

Focus your efforts on shopper needs: Armed with endless options and instant access, customers choose how, when, and where to shop based on their in-the-moment needs. Leaning into the native advantages of all of the brand’s channels will help retailers meet customers’ ever-increasing expectations.

Understand which parts of the shopping experience customers value most and anticipate what they need. Then,

  • Simplify the customer experience by ensuring servicing options are easy to find and navigate across channels;
  • Develop digital resources that enable customers, and associates, to find what they need and accomplish their tasks quickly; and
  • Offer customers control over how to pay by enabling mobile and digital payment technologies, in addition to traditional options.

Maximize mobile’s micro-shopping moments: Customer behavior is shifting to focus on mobile as they look to make the most of their time. Mobile impacts nearly every aspect of a customer’s journey. Look at their behaviors across devices, online and offline, to understand how and when customers are using the technology. Ensure promotions can be redeemed via mobile app or a mobile-optimized website. Give them mobile access to accounts and rewards. Enable location-based technology to provide the right message to the right customer at the right time.

Make it easy to get the goods: Delivering the goods in a way that’s most convenient to the customer is a critical satisfaction point during the holiday season. A free, reasonably timed shipping option offering a variety of shipping and pick-up options that enable the customer to choose the method that best meets their needs. 

Use store pickup to sell added goods: Incentivize customers to pick up merchandise in-store to drive traffic and increase engagement. Maximize the BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) opportunity with quick gift options, impulse merchandise displays, and appropriate staffing at pickup locations. 

Build loyalty that rewards at holiday and beyond: Holidays offer merchants the chance to add new repeat customers and enhance current relationships. Start with simple, straightforward loyalty program with meaningful rewards, like program-specific discounts, promotions, and offers, can deepen relationships during the critical holiday shopping season. Offer members surprise-and-delight moments throughout the season. Elevate the rewards-redemption moment to ensure members feel special and valued. Promote the program across all channels, including giving customers a view into all of their options as well as higher-level loyalty program tiers that offer bigger benefits for increased spend with the brand.

Inspire customers to find that perfect gift: Introduce holiday customers to products and help them find the perfect present. Create compelling, curated gift guides, including guides by interest, price point, theme, and other psychographic elements. Use promotional vehicles to tout special, company-unique offerings. Develop a social media strategy that enables customers to start, and even complete, their journey via their preferred platform. Explore how new technologies, like voice commerce, fit into the customer’s gift buying journey.

The time to start your holiday efforts is now. The results can last through the New Year.

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