Needless to say 2020 has been one that has seen world-changing seismic shifts in pretty much everything in our world. The Covid pandemic has affected each and every one of us and there is no end in sight, unfortunately.
For retailers, the effect has been devastating and the 2020 holiday retail shopping season promises to be, well this is how PwC bluntly puts it: “The 2020 holiday season will be unlike any before it and will be shaped by the pandemic.” Jill Standish, Global Retail Lead at Accenture says 2020 is shaping up to be a very ‘human’ holiday season for consumers, with a desire to support the people who have served our communities adding that “now is the time for retailers to be authentic to their purpose and transparent about how they treat employees.”
I could not agree more. This holiday season, with emotions running so high for so many reasons, consumers will want and expect and demand a highly human side to their shopping experiences. Retailers cannot afford to do the “status quo” and follow playbooks from years before because we are truly in un-chartered waters.
Recently the team at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting released its Holiday Marketing Quarterly Fourth Quarter 2020 Checklist and it they call out specific ideas to maximize success during the 2020 holiday retail shopping season.
Here’s some of the highlights:
Reengage your seasonal buyers. Because they’re buying for others instead of themselves, some of your customers only purchase from you during the holiday season. After potentially many, many months of inactivity, you may have moved these subscribers to a suppression list to protect your email engagement rates and sender reputation. As you start to kick off your holiday messaging, it’s the perfect time to move these seasonal buyers back to your active list. However, this needs to be done in a methodical manner to avoid deliverability problems.
Do progressive profiling. Because they’re suddenly buying for others instead of themselves, a customer’s buying habits from the past 9 months may be almost completely useless during the holiday season. That means that it’s difficult to personalize and segment messages effectively. One solution is to do some progressive profiling, where you poll your subscribers about, for example, which products or product categories they’re interested in deals on this holiday season.
Managing seasonal shoppers post-holidays. The flipside of reengaging seasonal shoppers is having a clear plan for retaining these shoppers after the holidays. Make it attractive for these customers to stay subscribed by giving them the option to opt-down to receive emails less frequently, as well as the option to pause their subscription for anywhere from 1 to 3 months.
Contingency plans. Update your apology email template and have concrete plans for what you will do in terms of messaging if your stores or deliveries are impacted by coronavirus or a winter storm. Be prepared to send a geo-segmented crisis message email to those affected, whether it’s an update about store closures, a change in hours, or other service updates. Have a designated email template ready to go to handle these kinds of notifications to subscribers.
Keep It Simple
Those who know and follow me know I am the living embodiment of keeping as much as humanly possible in my life, simple. Lord knows we have enough to deal with these days, and then some. We know consumers will still be consumers this holiday season. Pandemic or not, they will shop.
The key for retailers is to make the experience as easy (READ: simple) as possible. Don’t overwhelm them by cramming in 500 different items in one email for example. Don’t make the math difficult re: discounts. Make it easy for them to have items delivered right to their front door, preferably for free.
This is a time for a lot of stress in a lot of people’s lives. The retailers who can de-stress shoppers will win the day. Trust me.