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Quick Wins for an Ever-Changing Holiday Season

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You could argue that this year’s peak season has been a little hard to plan for. With most retailers well underway, preparing to kick off their 2020 Black Friday campaigns, it feels like every day we’re hearing about the industry’s giants pioneering their own version of peak season events that we must pivot to compete with. We also, of course, are faced with some unique and continually changing challenges posed by COVID-19, so it’s crucial for marketers to stay flexible as the season progresses.

So what do we already know about consumer behaviors and the major campaigns that are already dominating the holiday season?

First, let’s look at the impact of COVID-19 on consumers. Store closures and strict social distancing measures are inevitably inclining consumers to avoid the crowded doorbuster events that we usually see, most specifically, on Black Friday. We already know that the pandemic has massively changed the way that people shop online, so unsurprisingly, according to Google, 73% of shoppers in the US plan to do more shopping online throughout the peak season than they did in previous years, while 57% plan to purchase Christmas gifts during discount periods. 

Likewise, the impact of the pandemic has changed the way retailers are providing goods and services for their consumers. Prime Day is arguably the biggest culprit here, showing up early (or late, depending how you look at it) and with little warning, pushing deals curated to appeal to the holiday season shopper. It undoubtedly caused a stir in the retail industry amongst consumers and retailers alike, but was a seasonal success nonetheless: according to Amazon, third-party selling partners surpassed $3.5 billion in global sales on Prime Day, approximately a 60% YoY increase worldwide. The two day event also prompted other retail giants such as Walmart and Best Buys to kick off their own campaigns to compete with the Prime Day sales. 

Whichever way you look at it, Black Friday, aka the “traditional” holiday kick off event, has already been truly disrupted, and with such a wide range of engaging and convenient online shopping options at their fingertips as early as October this year, holding consumers’ attention throughout the season is going to be a challenge for retailers.

So how can brands effectively engage customers? 

Data driven personalization

It’s as important as ever, throughout this period, to create connected customer experiences through data-driven personalization, by targeting customers with content that’s uniquely relevant to them. Whether it’s offers, product recommendations, or any other type of content, consumers will be more likely to engage when the message speaks to their current needs. 

Digital in-store experiences

As creatures of habit, many shoppers really miss going to the store, so replicating elements of the in-store experience throughout the digital journey will serve to capture the hearts of customers and foster greater relationships and loyalty. Some examples of digital in-store experiences are:

  • Related product recommendations to cross-sell/upsell combinations of products
  • Abandon cart reminders across email campaigns and push/in-app messaging to keep selected products front of mind
  • AR product visualisers

Assuring the price-conscious customer

With consumers feeling increasingly price conscious, in addition to the obvious appeal of promotions and discounts, user generated content (UGC), such as reviews, has also become a way to reassure customers of the value of your products. Furthermore, 50% of Gen-Z and Millennials said that availability of buy now pay later (BNPL) would influence their decision to buy something online, even at full price. You can highlight your BNPL proposition by showing the installment price of a recently browsed or carted item. 

Stock visibility

In addition to these experiences, accuracy and visibility around inventory and shipping has been proved to impact conversions and allows marketers to manage customers’ expectations.

At Movable Ink, we’ve been working closely with our retail clients to get them peak holiday season ready with engaging and interesting digital shopping experiences such as these examples above. We’ve created [this mini catalogue of strategic recommendations]( Retail Strategies.pdf) where we showcase some key campaign elements that will empower marketers to have the creativity and agility to face whatever challenges will continue to be thrown their way in the coming months.

About the Author

Becki Francis, Associate Director of Client Strategy – Retail

Becki leads Movable Ink’s Client Strategy for retail in EMEA, supporting our clients’ business objectives by helping them create sophisticated CRM programs leveraging Movable Ink technology. Prior to joining Movable Ink in April 2020, Becki spent 8 years working in retail marketing, primarily managing email, app, and loyalty programs. Her career began on the agency side, where she crafted and built lifecycle programs for a range of retailers, from small startups to household name brands. She then moved on to lead the CRM team at House of Fraser before most recently heading up digital marketing and CRM for a London-based beauty brand. Her history and experience working within retail marketing teams means that she has unique insight into the typical pain points faced by retailers.

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