The holiday shopping season is a perfect opportunity to boost your existing customers’ spending and attract new shoppers. In the UK, sales grew by a total of 36% in the three months to December 2021. For 2022 and beyond that figure is expected to increase for in-store and online shopping. Through a combination of holiday promotions and clever marketing, a retailer can see its offline and online sales soar. Here are 10 ways fashion retailers can make this year’s holiday shopping season their best so far.
Have a dedicated marketing plan for the holiday season
How consumers shop in June is not the same as how they shop in December. To capitalise on the boost in holiday shopping, brands must have a dedicated marketing strategy that recognises the changes in shopping behaviours. Holiday purchases are often made with gift-giving in mind. Many retailers will augment their marketing campaigns and boost social media budgets to focus on gifts.
Because their target audiences are likely shopping for multiple gifts for friends and family, some brands appeal to a shopper’s need to save money. By offering complimentary gift certificates with larger purchases or three for two offers. Shoppers may seek to compare prices more in December so major retailers that can confidently offer consumers the best prices will do well.
Companies with a clear marketing strategy that works for both online sales and in-person shopping will reap the rewards throughout the holiday season.
Offer better value instead of always offering discounts
So often, a retailer looking to boost sales will reach for the discount option. Offering 50% off your products will boost your online sales for sure, but it could also damage the perception of value throughout the rest of the year. Worse, for brick-and-mortar retailers, it can shift the consumer perception from luxury or prestige to downmarket or cheap. If your target customers care about your brand’s image then ongoing promotions can negatively impact that perception.
Offer your shoppers better value for money. Instead of discounting online and in your stores you could consider offering a gift voucher with sales over $100. Alternatively, many tech-savvy retailers offer online shoppers bespoke gifting. A smart website will detect men browsing online for shoes and can offer a free pair of premium socks as an incentive to buy. People buying scarves and leather accessories from a prestige retailer can be offered free monogramming or embossing on purchases over a certain value.
The key is to pivot to added value rather than reduced prices. A small business with excess inventory can use this approach to better manage its stock while incentivising more shoppers to spend more money. A massive retailer can use this method over the holiday season to reward loyal customers.
Offer a seamless shopping experience
Online shopping is meant to be convenient, but so often, it isn’t. 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a retailer’s website if they’ve had a negative experience. Repeat customers come for the products, the good service and the ease of use. Without this busy consumers over the holiday shopping season will go to your rivals. Simple steps like ensuring your website is optimised for mobile and has simple easy-to-use navigation, can improve the customer experience. If your target audience is younger and your website traffic is predominantly mobile, focus your attention on making the mobile experience seamless.
This also applies to brick-and-mortar retailers. Holiday season sales are renowned for the stress and toll they can take on shoppers. Retailers need to deliver the best customer service experience if they want to beat the previous year’s sales figures.
During your busiest time of the year ask yourself how long does a shopper have to wait to be served? Is your store well organised for optimum selling? Can consumers pay with their preferred choice of credit card?
For many consumers, a seamless shopping experience means the difference between shopping with one brand that gets it right over a host of brands that get it wrong.
Check and double-check your supply chains
During the holiday season, transport infrastructures, suppliers and supply chains are all under immense pressure. To secure the revenues from increased holiday spending you have to be sure you have enough stock.
With recent economic uncertainty, the higher cost of manufacturing big and small businesses need to be selling products they can replenish with confidence. Many retailers assure their supply chain by paying upfront for stock or by placing orders well in advance of the busy holiday shopping season.
There’s no one size fits all solution and every business is different. But a store that has a plan in place will always be better than a store that doesn’t.
Use technology to remove friction, obstacles, objections and doubts
Not all holiday season purchases are Christmas presents. Lots of online shopping is for party outfits where the customer is looking for that perfect look for their different holiday gatherings. Considering that these purchases are being made at the same time of the year that the customer is likely to be spending vast amounts of money on gifts means the stores have to offer great prices and easy shopping. No one wants the hassle of returning an ill-fitting dress during the crazy holiday shopping period.
For personal shopping, many brands are embracing sizing technology to reduce costly returns and provide a better online shopping experience. Brands that build into their platforms, specialist AI driven sizing tools such as Sizer, can increase shopper confidence, and reduce the time and money wasted through unwanted returns. Customers benefit by making just one purchase and getting a perfect size the first time around.
Use your newsletter to offer bespoke deals for your best customers
The customer shopping experience is now central to shopper retention. Different retailers secure foot traffic in different ways. Brands with loyalty cards and an integrated sales system can have sales staff offer bespoke deals at the in-store sales register. Online, big and small businesses can augment their website or shopping apps to present relevant and tailored offers.
But so many retailers overlook the power of the newsletter. Using gender, age and sales data segmentation, a newsletter can be a fantastic way to improve the overall customer experience. A 40-year-old man who buys shirts can see an offer designed around his shopping habits that is in total contrast to a 21-year-old woman who has a history of buying sportswear.
By offering bespoke offers during the holiday season, your customers can feel more catered to. Their buying decisions are less stressful when the brand has successfully intuited their needs.
Consumers are more likely to complete a purchase if you offer free shipping
Free shipping attracts consumers to buy online with confidence. Studies show that people are more likely to buy something that includes ‘free shipping’ than something where shipping is listed as an additional cost. Even when the total cost for each option is the same.
Over the holiday shopping season, free shipping can give a shopper more confidence that choosing your brand will offer simplicity and ease. Considering so much of the customer experience is about simplifying and removing obstacles and objections, ‘free shipping’ over the holiday season is a no-brainer.
Connect with your consumers’ values and deliver a more sustainable shopping experience.
Millennials and Gen X shoppers are interested in spending with brands that reflect their ideological outlook. Often this means thinking twice before shopping with a big brand whose manufacturing and recycling practices are known to be poor. Ethical consumerism is on the rise with ethical retail sales jumping by 27% in 2020.
A fashion brand that offers decent pay to its workers and emphasises its sustainability practices can attract a certain type of holiday season shopper. Shopping online or in-person, they will be seeking fashions, gifts or objects that have a story to tell. Whether that means they are handmade, support a community or have been recycled from plastic waste is up to you. The key thing is to find a way to communicate these values to the right audience just in time for the holiday season.
Meet your consumers on their terms with omnichannel sales
Thinking of the internet as a physical place with neighbourhoods, shopping streets and shopping centres will make you realise that where you sell your goods will impact who buys them. Instead of geographic locations, a retailer must think in terms of online points of consumer contact: the brand’s core website, its reseller sites, the marketplace sites, its newsletter, its Twitter page, its Facebook, and its Instagram.
Then there’s factoring in who it is that hangs out in these different digital marketplaces.
Alphas, the youngest generation of shoppers, are just starting to have disposable income to spend. Retailers looking to appeal to these teenagers need to figure out where they are if they want to attract them. Likewise, Gen Z, have different shopping behaviours and can be found in a different corner of the internet. Then Millennials, Gen X and Boomers all differ again. It’s confusing but worth figuring out.
Once a brand has established who its shoppers are they need to go to market in the places that appeal to its audiences. With e-Commerce, this is easier. Purchase options exist through social sites like Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok allowing your products and fashions to be bought in that marketplace. More traditional shopping channels such as Amazon or eBay can work too depending on your core shopper. Over the shopping season, the best way to reach more customers is to go to the online places they hang out.
Maximise your online orders and attract new customers by using the best and most relevant omnichannel shopping experience for your target consumers.
Last but not least, keep the customer happy by investing in staff
To incentivise your customer to spend they have to be happy and secure doing so. If your brand has somehow previously made them feel unwanted or unwelcome, you will struggle to get their business again. Retailers have to constantly work to keep their customers happy.
If this means stores, staying open longer hours, or retailers hiring more online support staff during the busier months then it is a price worth paying. E-Commerce only retailers can save on massive infrastructure and staffing overheads, but brands that have zero online customer services at all will fail to reassure and keep their online shoppers happy.
The old saying, ‘People buy people’, is key in retail. A well-trained friendly shop assistant or a convenient and upbeat customer service agent can offer the best customer experience and ensure that holiday shopping doesn’t need to be stressful. Best of all, if they keep the customer happy, that customer will keep spending throughout the year.