Feel that chill in the air? That’s the signal of big things on the horizon and I don't just mean the pumpkin spice hype. For marketers, it's the start of the holiday shopping season. Thirty-two million shoppers are already be on the prowl for gifts, yet two percent of all American shoppers say they already finished their lists, according to a recent survey.
Aside from the earlybirds, the remaining ninety-eight percent of shoppers will be hitting the stores soon - all the way up to Christmas Day, for some latecomers. Since the majority of shopping takes place in the month of December, right now marks the point at which you should be double-checking that your customer-facing systems are presenting a cohesive message to consumers. Avoiding unnecessary frustrations across touchpoints ensures they have a unified experience across platforms. Over time, your trustworthiness and familiarity proves that consumers can return to your brand for many of their holiday needs.
But even more important than the immediate to-do is following up on any advances you've put into place to capture consumer preferences. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is the best way to encourage customers to engage with you on their terms. By acting on data provided by customers themselves throughout the year, you're able to shape and build relationships over time. Which means that come holiday shopping season, even that two percent of earlybirds will have made their purchases thanks to guidance and communications from you that reflect their stated needs.
In the same survey, 60 percent of shoppers said their main method of holiday shopping would be in retail stores. Thirty percent said that they would be mainly shopping online using computers or mobile devices. Altogether that contingent – 90 percent of shoppers - represents a massive opportunity to coordinate across touchpoints for preferences. Then, using preference management, you're able to parse out how customers want to be alerted about specials that are relevant to their shopping lists, whether they want to order online and pick up in your store, or if they’d like recommendations based on previous purchases. And that’s just the beginning. By offering personalization, time-saving opportunities or anticipatory answers to questions, you can be the big win in a hectic season that ends all too quickly.
Ninety-eight percent of customers are waiting for you. Have you spent the year earning your spot on their must-shop list?
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores last summer. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.
Labels: communication channel preference, customer-facing systems, holiday shopping, marketers, preference management