Strategies From Industry Leaders for the Final Shopping Stretch

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As retailers and brands face the final stretch of the holiday shopping season, they face frugal shoppers who are waiting for markdowns and looking for deals. This makes it a challenge for companies to maintain margins and move inventory.

WWD asked solution providers, fintech companies and brands to suggest a few ideas and tactics to drive sales and maximize conversions. Here, their observations.

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Prerna Bhushan, senior vice president of growth marketing at cart.com

Brands who are offering expedited, two-day shipping for last-minute shoppers as a promo with higher purchase points, i.e. “free two-day shipping with $100 purchase,” or coupled with other discounts to encourage a larger basket size or “buy more and save” offerings should see a solid ROI in the final weeks of the year.

It’s also a good time to shift messaging away from gifting to “now that you are done shopping for all your friends and family — gift yourself” and throw in an offer of an extra gift for you with another purchase from the brand. This tactic works well to keep customer acquisition efforts going while the consumer is still in the buying mindset.

Brands have spent a lot of money and have been collecting data all through fourth quarter on customer acquisition and this allows them to maximize their ROI across campaigns — whether it’s PMAX for Google, Adv plus for Meta, TikTok shops or any display dynamic remarketing efforts. This is a great option for brands who cannot or are not interested in expedited shipping.

Kristen D’Arcy, chief marketing officer at True Religion

Don’t underestimate influencers as powerful new customer acquisition drivers. Engaging content that is amplified across social channels, DTC touchpoints and in-store can reach new audiences and increase last-minute gift buying, just as we’re seeing here at True Religion.

It’s also imperative for retailers to keep shoppers engaged with compelling brand content and messaging during key shopping moments like holiday.

Rohan Deuskar, founder and chief executive officer of Stylitics

This time of year, people are looking for a cheat sheet — what to wear for the holiday party, for the upcoming trip, etc. Even if you don’t have outfitting recommendations, your content on social, in email and on landing pages should tell a “wear it with” story.

Show products in the context of occasions. If you can make customized collections, tie products to end-of-year occasions and themes.

Will Eadie, chief revenue officer at WorkJam

Staffing shortages and employee engagement continue to be huge retail industry challenges.

Retailers who are investing in technology and training built specifically for their frontline workforce are seeing double-digit improvements in productivity and customer satisfaction and reduced absenteeism of up to 16 percent.

The best solutions have an app-based offering that connects the frontline to headquarters and delivers real-time communications in each employee’s native language, digital training and development, rewards and recognition, flexible scheduling with express pay and task management tools.

In 2023, these solutions are helping retailers bridge language barriers, create a more inclusive and productive workplace environment and accelerate the training, development and advancement of their frontline workforce.”

Purva Gupta, cofounder and CEO of Lily AI

Retailers can leverage the speed of AI to assign trend-based themes to each item across the entire product catalogue so when a customer visits the site and searches for the latest TikTok trend, they can be ready to inspire and convert quickly with a highly relevant, AI-curated assortment. Landing the perfect gift reduces the potential for returns as well.

Don’t forget the gift of giving to oneself. When your products are properly tagged with customer-centered attributes, when she visits your site looking for the classic “office holiday party outfit” or “New Year’s Eve dress,” you can close the deal quickly.

Nandan Sheth, CEO of Splitit

The holiday shopping season is a marathon, not a sprint. Retailers need to have a plan in place to capture last-minute shoppers and maximize their sales potential. Retailers can ensure a successful holiday season by offering compelling deals and highlighting fast shipping options.

At this point in the holiday shopping cycle, two crucial components for success are fast and accurate shipping options and late-stage discounted offerings. It’s important to the late holiday shopping consumer to know they are still getting a good deal and that it will arrive on time.

Neha Singh, founder and CEO of Obsess

More than two-thirds of today’s consumers play video games, and they expect every one of their digital interactions to be gamified. Retailers can incorporate quick-win elements of gameplay into their holiday selling strategies — whether that’s by adding extra incentive to loyalty or by creating a digital scavenger hunt for exclusive gift items. Last holiday, Obsess created a virtual store for a fine jewelry brand in which visitors were 10 times more likely to add to a cart after playing a game within the experience.

Where content was formerly king, context has taken the reins — and brands need to strategically surround their holiday products and promotions with visuals that add context as to why consumers need them now. For example, 3D immersive shopping environments enable brands to showcase their products and content in a highly visual, educational way (i.e., a skin care brand can show the long-term effects of sun damage from holiday vacations by virtually diving into layers of the skin).

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