Retailers see Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching. Are you one of those temped to just “sit this one out,” saving margin and calling it a year? Well, there is still a lot you can do to reach out to your customers. Most people want to get into the holiday spirit and we should help them. Here are a few tips for retailers – or any marketer who wants to work with the discipline of a retailer.
Tip #1, for digital engagement: Maximize the data you have
Use your data in real time. Customers think that because they’ve shared their information with you, that you will tailor messages to them in the way they want to be spoken to, when and where they want to hear from you. To fully deliver on this, you need to capture every movement and moment – and automate your responses and next steps so you don’t disappoint.
Structure your customer-experience measurement around journeys, not single-point interactions. Track who has looked at what, but then didn’t convert, or complete a form, or engage in the ways you wanted.
Identify the customer journey(s). Learn how your consumer creates data, and then you create paths to get and analyze that data. Discover which journeys are profitable and which are not. Don’t waste your time.
Tip #2, for digital engagement: The crucial last mile
Your customer is most aware of what your brand does in the last mile before delivery. It has the greatest danger of risk, but also offers the greatest opportunities.
Whenever possible, offer trackable deliveries: communication and transparency are paramount for creating more loyalty customers. Customers expect it to be easy to know when a package will be delivered. This process should be automated and is frequently done with SMS and mobile push.
Geo location offers can also be enabled with SMS and mobile push and are a great way to drive incremental revenue on the fly. Retailers drive big incremental value in add-on sales, hence why they drive you through product-lined queues like at Home Goods. Now that holiday will produce less footsteps, retailers will see less add-ons. Figure out a way to add the add-ons to curbside pickups. Make it easy for people to add onto their orders with your mobile app: “Need any avocados added to your order?” Or, “Would you like a black scarf to match your gloves?” Equip your associates with a daily hero product, iPhones, and a SQUARE POS tool to get that add-on. Almost anyone shopping online sees only a small fraction of the products offered. Predictive analytics will serve this up for you.
Look for call center cost savings: The number one reason people call into retail call centers is to track a package or missing delivery. Many Acoustic clients have identified these questions as the cause of over 65% of their calls. Keep your customers posted and you’ll keep them from tying up your customer service lines.
Tip #3, for digital engagement: Profitable touchpoints and call centers
Make sure your call centers (and everyone else in marketing) has a view into what’s actually going on and the why behind it. In 2019, the global cart abandon rate was around a staggering 78%. This was mostly driven by phones, at 80%.
One estimate shows that $260 billion of sales lost to cart abandonment is recoverable – with the right marketing. Understand the why by watching session replays. (Every marketer has experienced promotion codes that didn’t work – and not shockingly –customers can be the first to find the problems, and they go straight to social media to share their distress.)
Automate what you can. Follow-up emails for abandoned carts have a great effect on conversion rates. Emails sent within 20 minutes have an average conversion rate of 4.5%, while emails sent more than 24 hours after cart abandonment only convert at around 2.6%.
Tip #4, for digital engagement: Generations matter
Adding a “generation attribute” to your customer files can be remarkably helpful. While it might sound like a broad brush, it’s a quick way to spot opportunities as you build up a profile of individual behaviors. Here are a few examples:
One the smaller generations – roughly 20% of the U.S. population – is Gen X, whose members were born between 1966–1981. Yet, they make more online purchases than any other age group, averaging nearly 19 transactions per year. They have the highest rate of brand loyalty of any other generation and have the highest spending power next to Baby Boomers.
The Millennial generation, born 1981–1996, is the largest – nearly 22% of the U.S. population – and it the first digital-native generation. They are also known as the podcast generation. When you market to Millennials, you need to create a value proposition they can identify with, because they see the products they buy as an extension of their own image. For example, 50 % of Millennials will pay 10% more for products that are sustainable.
Notably – at 21% of the population – Baby Boomers have been dethroned in the U.S. as the largest generation, but will remain the wealthiest generation until 2030. And COVID-19 drives them to buy online – even though they prefer in-store shopping. This is a huge opportunity to boost online sales.
Gen Z, the children of Gen X and fully tech savvy, were born 1996–2010 and make up 20% of population. This generation is enamored with technology that amps up an experience: think beacons that help navigate with in-store shopping. Loyalty programs are a big factor with this group.
Here’s an action item for you: create a generation task force. Test various ways to connect with each group and begin to market in micro segments.
Tip #5, for execution and testing: Cross-channel selling and new channels
Take this challenge: conduct a marketing assessment of your own brand. How easy is it to post a product to a social media page to “crowd source from friends?” Are you engaging with your customers with surveys? With COVID, people are online more. Here’s your opportunity for more dialogue. Find out how your consumers are using your products and then make sure you’re connecting their experiences across all of your channels.
During the original wave of COVID, many retailers opted to use virtual selling out of local stores. This has become a new way to drive revenue– virtual selling, locally. It’s working and some retailers plan to adopt this strategy permanently.
Tip #6, for execution and testing: Get into the people business
With in-store traffic down, plus the holiday season kicking off, plus alerts that “You should expect delays to occur,” this is the ideal time for retailers to pivot. Use your contingent workers in a new way. Delivery! First, it creates jobs and keeps your staff ready to return to pre-pandemic positions. Second, it gets your product in your consumers’ hands faster. And third, it can be a new revenue stream: delivery vs. shipping, where you can own the last mile and keep the margin for yourself. We know of one retailer that tested this early on and now they have their own fleet! Start small with a micro fleet and test the waters. Be ready to expand quickly.
Here’s a thought: maybe it’s time to let go of the reigns of social. For those retailers that don’t outsource social media responses, but also have a small but mighty staff, and have previously “walled off” anyone else from posting: it’s time to unleash the brilliance from within. Your brand deserves some social media love. Identify internal brand ambassadors, set some guidelines, and let them run.
Buying local is a priority for 46% of the population. Be creative here – it’s not only supporting a local team with gift cards or money, it’s about being so involved with your community that your brand is known for it. And when I talk about community it is not only the physicality of where your locations reside, but also the people that are part of your brand community. I am not talking brand ambassadors there – like paid influencers. I’m talking real, authentic customers who can help you with your “community relations.”
Tip #7, for execution and testing: Content is paramount!
Lighthearted content is key. (Is there anyone out there who couldn’t use a bit of cheering up right now?). Be authentic, lighthearted, and fun. With 27 million views and over 9,000 comments, Dollar Shave Club created a funny video about – you guessed it – men’s razors. And this in a very crowded marketplace of men’s HBA products. The CEO stars in this video. Their “dollar a month” product (well, almost) breaks through with a funny, entertaining video – in what looks like was his warehouse. Watchable, sharable, and memorable. Brilliance.
Time was, cookies were the bedrock of programmatic advertising – then ad blockers came – then the work-around of fingerprinting based on browsers, including IP addresses. With pressure from privacy laws, Google is now implementing the privacy sandbox which is creating anonymity among users, and Apple is using the “IDFA” (Identifier for Advertisers), where you have to actually opt-in to be tracked. Come 2022, brands of all sizes will need to work with external, independent platforms who either have relationships or can navigate this brave new world of walled gardens.
And as you create those ads – mastered to reach unique audiences – get the product and message right! I can’t tell you how many digital ads are either remarkets (meh) or irrelevant or – wait for it – out of stock! Great example: a retailer I’ve shopped at before placed a red jumpsuit in an ad for me to click through. I bit, I clicked, and there was one left in stock, and not my size. Wasted money. Use your money wisely.
Final thoughts and holiday readiness inspiration
- Move beyond actionable. Make your data profitable.
- Customer journeys are no longer quite so simple. Find the profitable ones.
- Blue sky ideations can still take place to design holiday readiness: it’s not too late. As a matter of fact, retailers who are nimble and agile will drive the most learnings.
- Metrics and learnings from the holiday season can help you put new revenue drivers into place.