As Summer comes to a close and back-to-school shopping is done, a major event will take place soon in the world of retail – the 2017 holiday shopping season.
Retailers need to get energized and kick-start their planning now if they haven’t already in order to have everything “in-place” by October, when customers start collecting wish lists and conducting their research. Basic items on the readiness checklist should include:
- Website or microsite is optimized for the best shopping experience.
- Inventory is fully stocked and re-stock plan is in place.
- Physical store is fully staffed and seasonal helpers are recruited and trained.
- Customer outreach channel strategy is nailed down.
The above list represents only some critical aspects of holiday planning so it’s up to each retailer to identify areas of opportunity leading up to the holiday shopping season. Some trends were highlighted in a recent National Retail Federation survey of last year’s holiday shoppers and learnings from the study can be applied to this year’s holiday retail sales strategies.
Inspire Shoppers In-Store and Online
Consumers are already discovering, exploring and looking for inspiration both in-store and online. Almost half surveyed said they still browse brick and mortar stores, followed by 43% who look to TV for inspiration. Social media, email and apps all play a smaller role in general (under 30%) in terms of inspiring consumers, though their influence is much higher for Millennials and Gen Z.
Retailers should use learnings from their online presence to help inform what to display in-store and on their websites. They should also make it easy for consumers to tell friends and family what they want i.e gift registries or product sharing.
Help Holiday Shoppers Do Their Research
Many consumers research the products they are interested before purchase, even if the products are less than $50. By the time they reach the point of purchase, 9 out of 10 shoppers have done their research online, either through the retailer’s website and/or product reviews or mentions from a friend.
Retailers should plan on ways to make it easier for consumers to do research before and during the holiday shopping season. Create buying guides or add a text-for-info call-to-action (“Text ABC5 to 41411 for recent reviews on this product!”) to each product on display in-store so shoppers can easily access product web pages using their mobile phone.
Influence Purchase Decisions
As shoppers become knowledgeable about the products they want, retailers can influence purchase decisions in a number of ways. Free shipping tops the list when asked what convinced shoppers to make a purchase, followed by limited time offers. Retailer recommendations are also useful, with more than half of online holiday shoppers saying they purchased items recommended by the retailer.
Retailers should have offers in place to trigger impulse buys throughout the shopping season. Make recommendations and show what other customers are purchasing to help drive more sales.
Engage Now: Build a Solid Text Subscriber Base
Choosing the right technologies to engage with customers in-store and online is also an important step in prepping for holiday sales. Physical stores, e-commerce sites and social media channels all play an important role in inspiring shoppers, helping them do research and influencing purchase decisions. But with a growing number of people spending over 3 hours a day on mobile media, adding a mobile component like text messaging can help retailers take advantage of trends along a consumer’s path to purchase.
As retailers amp up their engagement efforts, a key goal should be to start growing their text subscriber base through these channels. Building a mobile subscriber base prior to the holiday season will mean a retailer will have a readily available base of opted-in subscribers to market to via text messaging when they deploy their promotional campaigns. Promote your VIP text club by adding “Text MYSTORE to 41411” CTAs to all marketing communication channels, emphasizing to customers that they’ll be privy to great deals during the holiday season.
Interested in learning more about retail marketing by text message? Contact 800-696-1393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.