Christmas in July can be a fun excuse for a summer party. But marketers are more likely to view it as a reminder of the coming year-end holiday sales — and a trigger to start planning for critical seasonal sales.
Remember, your customers today have outrageous expectations — and addressing them is the only way to sustain a competitive edge.
And there’s no argument it takes time, effort, and the right technologies to perfect that convenient, seamless, and engaging omnichannel experience that customers demand.
So with Christmas just six months away, marketers need to strategize right now to reach customers effectively during the holidays.
“You have to make your brand experience the priority if you want happy customers,” said Arke Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Technology Officer Chris Spears.
“Brands need to ask themselves now what they can do to compete with the most customer-centric companies on the planet. Those companies have set the bar very high, and customers today expect amazing experiences everywhere, every day.”
2018 Year-End Holiday Outlook
According to Plano, Texas-based Alliance Data, a provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions, the retail industry outlook heading into the fourth quarter of 2018 is positive. It forecasts 5,000 net new stores openings by the year-end, with a 4 percent increase in total retail spend.
In a whitepaper authored by experts at Alliance Data’s three businesses — Epsilon, Conversant, and LoyaltyOne, it notes customers are increasingly creating their own individual shopping journeys that span digital and physical worlds.
Today’s customers are nimble, “moving in and out of channels simultaneously, and they expect brands to deliver an experience that revolves around them and their needs.
“They view brands’ channels as all part of one cohesive brand ecosystem and expect seamless experiences as they move fluidly through their journeys,” the whitepaper notes (registration required).
Brand Experience Drives Year-End Sales
Customers view their experiences at the brand level, not within specific channels. That means retailers should implement strategies that take a more cohesive, holistic approach that aim to deliver an excellent brand experience.
There is a place for both brick-and-mortar and online channels during the year-end holidays, the report suggests.
Stores, which account for nearly 90 percent of all retail sales, can “deliver the magic of the holidays.” And while digital can’t offer the sensory and immersive experiences available in a store, it makes holiday shopping easier.
What’s more, many customers — especially those under age 35 — have adopted brick-and-mobile; that is, using their smartphones to read reviews and comparison price while they are in stores.
Maximize Mobile Experiences
Last holiday season, mobile played a starring role. Online sales increased 18.1 percent year-over-year, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report. Revenue from mobile (smartphones and tablets) represented more than 33 percent of online holiday revenue — a 28 percent jump year-over-year, Adobe Analytics found.
Mobile will continue to play an important role this holiday season, the Alliance Data report states. In fact, savvy brand retailers should view the mobile shopping experience as a critical component of their holiday strategy.
“Consumers ‘hang out’ on their smartphones. And shopping happens anytime and anywhere, whether waiting in line or commuting on a train. Smart retailers will deliver a streamlined experience that enables a purchase to be completed in quick moments with just a few steps, while also giving customers easy access to their accounts and rewards,” the report explains.
Consider Using Mobile Coupons
Mobile coupons drive purchases and encourage future purchases, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Chang Hee Park is an assistant professor of marketing in Binghamton’s School of Management. He said targeting customers with the right type of mobile coupon can boost revenue.
Park and fellow researchers Young-Hoon Park of Cornell University and David Schweidel of Georgetown University worked with data from a global beauty company. They looked at the short- and long-term effectiveness of two kinds of mobile coupons: price discount and free samples.
Mobile discount coupons increased the odds a customer would make a purchase during a promotion period. They also increased the total average amount customers spent during the promotion.
Free-sample coupons not only affected short-term sales goals but also contributed to incremental purchases over a longer period