Foolproof Your Brand For The Holidays As spending habits and customer behaviour change; for brand-led businesses, in particular, it is less about offering a competitive price and instead providing customers with a full experience beyond the actual product they are receiving. Placing brand and customer connection at the forefront to ensure retention will be crucial during this time when businesses are competing to create the biggest noise.
Heading into the peak sale and Christmas gifting season it is easy to get overwhelmed and overlook the most important parts of your brand - namely the unique positioning and offering. This year the Business of Fashion predicts that consumers will be shopping earlier than ever and spending less due to rising inflation and the increasing uptake of major trading events. Direct-to-consumer businesses will be doing everything to keep up with competitors and the pace of this period, but it is key to not lose sight of your brand proposition during this time.
As spending habits and customer behaviour change; for brand-led businesses, in particular, it is less about offering a competitive price and instead providing customers with a full experience beyond the actual product they are receiving. Placing brand and customer connection at the forefront to ensure retention will be crucial during this time when businesses are competing to create the biggest noise.
Ensure that you are speaking to your key brand values more than ever during this time in order to break through the noise around this peak trading period. Customers will be shopping around more than ever this Christmas season due to the changing economic environment with increases in inflation and interest rates and so on. Focus on highlighting your key brand messages and unique selling points to convince customers to shop with you. This sales period is not the moment to be introducing new ideas to your customers, rather it will be important to reiterate those key values that initially appealed to them as first-time customers.
It is easy to get swept up in the noise around the sales and gifting period but make sure that you don’t forget to highlight opportunities and offerings outside of this, particularly in the post-Christmas period which is typically quiet. There are a variety of opportunities outside of gifting that occur during the summer season and may be relevant to your business; summer holidays, entertaining at home, New Years' parties and wedding season are some examples. Think about whether consumers will be coming to you for any of these occasions and how you can refine your outputs to make the most of these moments for your customer base. While the market will be saturated with gifting messaging, consider leveraging some of the other opportunities over this period to stand out and showcase your unique understanding of your customers.
The gifting period presents a unique opportunity in that you will likely have an increased number of people shopping with you for the first time as they purchase gifts for friends and family. This will likely include customers outside of your typical demographic eg. those shopping for their partners, or those from younger or older age brackets shopping for their parents or children - ensure you are collecting first-party data for these customers when they shop with you. In the lead-up to the gifting period, it will also pay to think about how you can facilitate new demographic conversion journeys on your site. You may want to do this by optimising your navigation bar to include gifting edits, ensuring your product categories are frequently merchandised or speaking to your gift wrap offering. Gifting edits will benefit your existing customer base as well, where you may see the average order value increase as customers look to purchase multiple gifts at a time.
Making sure every interaction on the purchasing cycle is optimised for ease during this period will be critical to maintaining retention and increasing the lifetime value of customers. Ensure that your post-purchasing experience is optimised and painless and be sure to also front foot any communications around delays if you happen to experience this while order volume increases. Within your existing customer base, consider whether you can offer personalised shopping experiences including suggested items or wishlist notifications. It is also worth looking into whether you can broaden your shipping offerings - can you look to include express delivery during this time, or if you offer same-day shipping or click-and-collect services already make sure that this is something you are communicating. If you have a loyalty program be sure to highlight this throughout all touch-points to ensure customers are incentivised to keep coming back after that initial purchase. In lieu of a loyalty program, consider offering a discount or gift with purchase during the typically quiet January period to encourage retention.
Customer Experience will be as valuable as ever over this period. While it is easy to overlook this when you’re thrust into the hustle and bustle of peak season sales, this is a crucial time to ensure that customer experience processes are optimised to support both your customers and internal team as order volumes ramp up. Make sure that key information is communicated through various channels and easy to find on the website, you could consider updating homepage sitewide banners with deadline cut-offs and shipping updates. For ease on both your and your customer’s end, processes need to be seamless and communicated clearly online - consider adding a FAQ page with all key questions over this period. Ensure all payment gateways & BNPL are available: test these in advance, to provide a seamless checkout experience.
While brand loyalty can falter over the holidays as people shop around, there are a number of things you can do to deepen your connection with your customers and remain front of mind. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, utilise in-store opportunities to offer a more personalised shopping experience over this period. All businesses should be utilising their organic channels (socials & EDM) to communicate to their customers as early & frequently as appropriate. Ensure things like gift cards are easy to purchase and consider offering the option to have orders gift-wrapped.
After the Christmas rush, the quiet month of January rolls around. While this is typically a quiet sales month, there are several things you can do during this period to ensure sales consistency is maintained. Think about what your customers need from you over this time. Whether that’s the convenience of getting their items shipped to their bach or campsite, or incentives to treat themselves after a period of buying for others, such as a gift with purchase or a discount code for VIP customers to say thanks for the support. Maintain brand presence over this time by planning your Instagram, blog, and EDM content well in advance and have them scheduled to roll out over the closedown period.