Cooler, damp weather. Spooky season. NFL and PSLs in full swing. Fall is officially here – and with that comes the merry beginnings of the holiday shopping season.
Holiday shopping has pulled forward over the last several years, making the season longer and longer. Before the explosion of e-commerce, Black Friday was the day to shop if you were looking for the best deals. Then, Cyber Monday grew in popularity as more consumers began shopping online. It wasn’t long before there was an entire Cyber Weekend for deal-seekers.
Now, holiday sales begin even earlier as retailers try to meet consumers stretching their shopping dollars. According to Google, by the end of October, 50% of Americans are shopping for holiday over any two-day period, and, on average, 29% of their holiday shopping is complete. Keeping pace with retail, 78% of Q4 buyers make a purchase on Rakuten before Black Friday.
If spend is finite, those that capture early will win
Holiday shopping is almost synonymous with deals. But this year, shoppers are looking for more ways to save as financial pressures build. Shopping earlier in the season allows consumers to stretch their purchases over a longer period of time, and allows time to compare prices and search for the best deals of the season.
For brands, the addition of October increases awareness of offers and drives a new volume of traffic, creating more opportunities for brands to maintain a presence with engaged shoppers. Bottom line, if you’re not in front of shoppers early, you’re leaving sales on the table.
Capture early holiday shoppers and keep them coming back this season
Retail is preparing for a down and hyper-competitive Q4 as consumers become more circumspect in their spend. The increased demand for discounting and deals means brands need to win the attention battle in order to stay top of mind with shoppers and retain brand loyalty. The question becomes, how can brands capture shoppers’ attention early on and keep them coming back throughout the season (and beyond)?
- Set earlier promotions – Brands must set a smart promotional strategy that engages savvy shoppers early and often to meet consumer demand for deals. Shoppers have always sought out ways to save, but this year increased pressure is driving a new demand for discounts and earlier holiday spending. Kick off the holiday season with differentiated promotions and include more pre-Black Friday deals to win early shoppers and distribute revenue opportunities across a longer period of time.
- Make the inventory mix work – To cut through the holiday noise, brands should focus on pockets of inventory that differentiate their brand from competitors. Understand the products and categories that will bring people in and build baskets. Keeping with promotions, using excess inventory early in the season to spark the holiday spirit can also aid in clearing shelves for new arrivals after the Cyber 5.
- Create purchasing flexibility – Along with price, consumers continue to prioritize convenience during their shopping experiences. Online shopping and flexible fulfillment options have made the buying process more seamless than ever. Brands that offer convenience can reach more customers and garner loyalty. This could mean flexible payment options like Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) or fulfillment plans like Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) or expedited shipping.
- Embrace nonprice differentiators – Online ratings, reviews, and price comparisons are top resources for people looking to feel confident in making purchases. Not only can this positively influence sales but as an added benefit, creating more comprehensive product pages can also help reduce the number of returns retailers experience.
Turn early holiday shoppers into long-term, high-value customers
The effort brands put into nurturing their customers and driving loyalty leading up to and throughout the holidays will payoff year-round. People who have positive gift-buying experiences tend to become repeat customers, even after the peak spending period is over. This means brands have a huge opportunity to give shoppers a reason to return, which will drive long-term growth.
Get in contact for more insights and strategies to sleigh the season.