With the onset of COVID-19 and the collective lockdown all over the world, people turned to new ways to shop. With toilet paper out of stock and long delivery times for office chairs, brand loyalty was replaced by convenience, as shoppers turned to new brands and retailers to get what they needed. Not only did they discover new products across a range of businesses, but they also turned to unfamiliar brands for staple products.
This purchasing behavior will have a long-term impact on the retail industry as 84% of shoppers recently surveyed said they would keep purchasing from brands they discovered post-pandemic, according to data retrieved by Criteo.
So, what does this mean for retailers as they begin planning for the biggest shopping season of the year?
With recognition and understanding that 2020 will bring an unprecedented holiday season, retailers and brands will need to keep the pillars of brand loyalty at the core of their holiday strategy while adapting to today’s reality.
And how does that happen?
Here are a few ways brands and retailers can maintain momentum with long-standing customers while satisfying and building loyalty with new ones this holiday season.
Remaining connected to both new customers that discovered your brand in recent months and loyal customers from prior years will, of course, be a major focus for many retailers. Providing a personalized and seamless experience that reaches your customer throughout every step of their shopping journey will be key. As they navigate across devices and environments, relevant messaging, and creatives that are unique to their individual experience will be important in strengthening connections and showcasing your understanding of their needs. Engaging your customer at multiple touchpoints – through social media, email marketing, etc. – with that unique experience will be critical to 1) remind your loyal customers of why they became loyal in the first place, and 2) give your new customers reason to keep coming back well into 2021.
Rewarding loyal customers
The holiday season is always driven by deals and this year won’t be any different. However, after a few bumpy months, rewarding customers who have remained loyal throughout is a great way to keep you at top of mind as they cross items off their shopping list. Through personalized offers and loyalty programs, shoppers will feel incentivized to purchase with the brands and retailers who show appreciation for them. This is also a great way to ensure that holiday shoppers continue coming back beyond the season.
Providing contactless & convenient shopping options
Even with social distancing regulations in place through the holiday season, many shoppers will choose to forego in-store experiences and the crowds they may bring. While speedy (and discounted!) shipping has always been a priority during the holiday season, the pandemic has nudged many shoppers to explore curbside pick-up for the first time. Providing customers with the convenience of browsing and buying online and picking up in-store, can make for a pleasant introduction to an entirely new segment of customers that are on the lookout for contactless and convenient holiday shopping.
There is always that one toy, gadget, winter coat, etc. that flies off the digital and physical shelves – but this year, the topic of product availability has grown new legs following the surplus of out of stock notifications. Maintaining product inventory will be essential to making the brand experience an enjoyable one for new and existing customers. Much easier said than done, right?
So, the suggestion: invest where possible in improvements in the supply chain to avoid losing customers to a competitor and do your best to communicate expectations regarding inventory availability. While production and shipping timelines may be out of your control, thoughtful communication that sets an expectation of availability is in your control and could be one area where new brands and retailers really shine.
It goes without saying that the shopping experience will be different this holiday season. However, what will hold during the busiest shopping weeks of the year is the importance of building meaningful connections with new and existing shoppers. At the core, these people will be looking for brands to provide enjoyable shopping experiences that make buying easy. Retailers who adjust their holiday strategy to meet the needs of shoppers are the ones that will win this holiday season.
Reggie is the vice president of mid-market client strategy at Criteo, where he supports the company’s mid-market sales and strategy teams for the Americas.