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GUEST COMMENT Digital strategies for creating more value from festive shoppers

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Renowned fashion journalist, Suzy Menkes, once argued that there “is no doubt that online shopping has fed the craze for speed, because when you can’t touch the fabric or try on the outfit, the only emotion you experience is the excitement of the purchase and the thrill of beating everyone else to it.”

This argument from 2013, that online shopping is basically emotionless spending, is one that’s stuck around longer than it should. However, digital experiences can enrich us emotionally in the same way that real life shopping does, as long as retailers are able to deliver on that experience in a virtual world. The problem is not that customers today are digital, it’s that cracking the code to emotional online experiences is extremely difficult to achieve, both in terms of the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’

As we leave peak shopping season behind us, retailers have the opportunity to maximise that experience. The peak shopping period tends to be a big acquisition event for retailers, as shoppers flock to enjoy deals and discounts. The challenge is getting them to stick around without the discount incentive. Key to this is building an emotional relationship between customer and brand; creating real value for them that means they have an enriched and rewarding shopping experience.

If executed effectively, a post-peak customer outreach campaign can offer retailers the chance to hugely increase the lifetime value of a customer, using advanced personalisation tactics to drive repeat purchases.

Breaking past the ’one-and-done’ barrier

New customers acquired during sale seasons like Black Friday or January sales are even more likely than most to be discount sensitive – but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be converted into long-term brand loyalists who come back (and pay full price). The secret to unlocking this is in the experience you offer them. By focusing on relevance and catching customer attention while you have it, retailers can build an engaged and valuable customer base out of a segment that might once have been gone until next year.

There are a few key principles that, while details may need fine tuning to each brand, tend to get more customers to stick:

Introduce the brand: when the customer first interacts with you – remember it’s an introduction. Welcome campaigns are a simple but effective way of doing this. Retailers can use this space to explain the brand and its values. It’s worth experimenting with this, testing cross-channel approaches that break them out of stuffed inboxes at a busy time of year.

Optimise post-purchase campaigns: driving a follow-up purchase is a key step on the road to brand loyalty; and can mean the difference between developing an active customer and one who disappears forever. The tactics a retailer might use to incentivise this will depend on their brand strategy and the type of retailer they are. At the sales end of the spectrum there’s cross-selling based on the purchased product, or creating replenishment campaigns that encourage purchases when a product is likely to have run out. Looking at a more customer-service based approach, it can be useful to follow-up with relevant aftercare information related to their purchase, or to find out if everything was how they wanted it and asking if they need any further help (personalised SMS can be a nice channel for doing this). This helps to make the experience more memorable.

Accentuate value-add perks: while discounts are popular, other rewards, like early access to product

launches, points-based loyalty programs, or perks and gifts on birthdays are also highly valued by customers, and don’t eat into margins.

Monitor ‘newly acquired’ customer trends: it’s crucial to set up a way to monitor and understand newly acquired contacts as soon as possible. Creating new segments for customers and leads acquired during Black Friday or the Christmas run-up means easy review of the categories they shopped and what brought them in. This will identify quick wins and opportunities, and long-term will also enable monitoring and help the business understand future engagement better by looking back at the period.

It’s also important to double down on quick win insights; leveraging short-term insights as part of the post-purchase campaign optimisation effort I discussed earlier. If there were specific categories, products, or channels that proved popular for these new contacts they should be included in this campaign to get that all-important swift second purchase.

Finally, in the coming 2-3 months there should be enough data and time to analyse these monitored segments to see which drove the most revenue, who went on to make a second purchase, what tactics worked best for this and what the most valuable customers have in common – whether source, product preference or marketing preferences. These insights can inform current campaigns to these segments, or in the case of an engagement dropoff or poor performance, help optimise for peak 2022.

While peak shopping may be in the rear-view mirror, long-term engagement with those customers should only just be gearing up. With effective segmentation insights and actions, retailers can reap the rewards from peak customers all year long, driving customer lifetime value and ultimately providing a truly effective way to boost revenues outside of the key trading period. The key is to understand that digital experiences are as emotional as physical ones – and to maximise them accordingly.


Hannah Stacey, brand and product marketing director at Ometria

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