By Rory Dennis, Amplience
Another holiday season has come and gone, and while the majority of us are focused on emerging from the sugar daze and paying off the credit card bills, America’s retailers face different challenges. The holiday period is a boom time for retailers, but the post-holiday lull can bring a significant drop in sales and revenue, and coaxing consumers into purchases after the holidays is not always easy. It’s critical that retailers not let the sales momentum slip in January, however, and approach the new year with organization and well thought-out campaigns. With that in mind, following are five tips for maintaining consumer engagement, growing brand awareness and boosting sales — in January and beyond.
1. Finger on the Pulse
Keeping content fresh and relevant is always key to boosting customer engagement, but this is particularly important after the traditional holiday shopping craze. One way in which retailers can maintain interest and engagement is with up-to-the-minute campaigns that reflect changing circumstances — weather, competitive offers and hot–selling items, for example.
The ability to create and modify campaigns on the fly using rich media and campaign management technology allows retailers to offer merchandise that consumers may actually need, versus peddling the same seasonal items as their competitors. These types of customized campaigns can even be drilled down and modified by geography or news events. An outdoor apparel retailer, for example, can respond quickly to a major winter storm by offering specials on snow boots, parkas or other cold-weather gear. Retailers can also capitalize on pop culture events — for example, offering specials on sports jerseys to customers located in a particular region following a major sporting event win.
2. Make Product Move
In addition to jumping on the latest news or trends, the ability to rapidly modify campaign content and promotional pages is also key in boosting sales. For example, if a certain line of items isn’t moving as well as others, retailers can push out a campaign designed to highlight the slow-moving merchandise with additional promotion and possibly reduced prices. These targeted product campaigns can be particularly useful in getting remaining holiday items off the shelf to make way for newer stock.
3. Virtual Browsing
Traditionally, one of the biggest benefits of shopping in-store versus online is the ability to physically interact with merchandise. Examining the stitching on an embroidered blouse, for example, or gauging the thickness of a wool sweater can often be the deciding factor for a brick and mortar consumer hesitant to purchase. However, technology has evolved to provide online shoppers with a similar ability to interact with products — deep level zoom on particular details, rotating the item to view it from all angles, and presenting the article in a lifestyle setting or paired with other items all help to drive conversion and lift average order value.
Video is also becoming an increasingly important tool in retailers’ promotional arsenal. Today’s interactive video solutions go far beyond simply demonstrating how items look in motion. Retailers can provide a comprehensive shopping experience—ranging from specific product details and pricing through to the final purchase — entirely within the video itself. As we kick off the new year, this is an excellent time for brands to take advantage of the latest imaging and video technology has to offer and integrate these new capabilities into their online campaigns.
4. Consistent Experience
It’s important that retailers consider every customer touch-point as part of their post-holiday campaign strategy. To ensure optimum success, online campaigns must deliver a synchronized experience across channels so that the customer experience is identical even if more than one channel is used to make a purchase. For example, enabling a customer who initiated the purchase via her tablet to resume shopping from her laptop without impacting the status of items in her shopping cart is a key benefit in boosting conversions. Responsive web design technologies ensure this multichannel functionality, enabling brands to maintain consistency across channels and provide the best possible customer experience.
5. Remember Brick-and-Mortar
While the world is growing increasingly digital, it’s critical that the in-store experience is also factored into brands’ strategies for success in January and beyond. Technology has evolved in a number of ways to help retailers capitalize on sales in their traditional brick-and-mortar locations, and also to provide a stronger link between their in-store and online identities.
For example, many fitness gear retailers offer exercise classes in select locations as a strategy for increasing individual store sales and raising awareness among local shoppers. Why not also stream these classes via the website, promote their availability via social platforms, and provide a merchandise discount or similar offering to customers who sign-up for the online sessions?
Bringing digital in-store through interactive screens and digital displays also harnesses the power of rich interactive media and effectively pairs the in-store experience with the promotions and campaigns in the online world. In today’s connected world customers can easily disseminate these offerings within their own social channels, effectively introducing the retailer to potential new buyers in the process.
While the post-holiday period is historically a stagnant time for sales, the above considerations can help online retailers combat the early winter doldrums and be well-positioned for successful growth throughout the year. Personal New Years resolutions can be hard to implement and difficult to stick to but brands face no such challenge in embracing the steps outlined above. Today’s technology enables retailers to easily and cost-effectively develop more responsive, interactive campaigns and modify their offerings on the fly, ensuring maximum campaign efficacy and, ultimately, increased sales.
Rory Dennis, general manager, North America, Amplience, which drives profitable omni-channel revenue growth by creating rich customer experiences.