Half Way to the Holidays: What Retailers Should Do Now to Get Ahead

The month of June signifies many different things. The kickoff of summer, the end of Q2, and the halfway point to the holiday shopping season. While it may seem impossible to begin thinking about anything holiday related as the summer sun blazes outside, transitioning into a holiday sales mindset can be essential in getting ahead. Many retailers are already marking their calendars, making their sales wish lists and checking them twice. Summer is an optimal time to make your holiday sales goal a reality.

Start by Defining Your Holiday Goals

Before jumping into a new holiday sales strategy, it’s important to take time for reflection and analysis of last year’s results. Ask yourself the following questions to start:

  • What investments did I make last year to aid in meeting holiday sales goals, and what was their ROI?
  • What was my total sales volume on each channel? In-store, online, mobile?
  • What special holiday promotions did I offer? How did they perform?
  • How many times did the average customer return to make a purchase during the season?

Once you’ve gotten a sense of last years results, move onto evaluating your present day’s strategy performance. The good news is, that with two quarters in the books, you should be able to tell what has been working for you and what has not. It’s time to optimize the good and reevaluate strategies that haven’t been pushing the needle for you.

As you are thinking about how to meet your holiday sales goals, here are few things to consider incorporating into your mid-year strategy that will make the difference in driving holiday sale success.

What You Should Do Now

Ramp up Loyalty Programs

What types of promotions and loyalty tools bring customers into your stores? Figuring out the loyalty mix that works for your customers is essential. According to the recent Forrester report, How Customers Really Feel About Loyalty, loyalty program members are more likely to evangelize and recommend products and services and pay a higher price when the experience is right for them. Loyalty programs that balance discounts with program interactions that take place beyond the register, is key in boosting customer engagement.

Simply put, relying on promotions and discounts to boost loyalty isn’t going to cut it. Your strategy should also include loyalty programs, like a retail store card. From our recent consumer survey study we’ve found Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Y are up to 60% more likely to shop at a retailer that they have a store credit card with.

Boost Your Mobile Experience

There’s no avoiding mobile. According to Adobe Insights, 30% of 2016 holiday sales were made via mobile. This number is only expected to grow. Today’s customers expect every aspect of a retailer’s customer experience to offer mobile functionality. This extends beyond just making a purchase. For example, customers look to mobile to be an avenue for retailer’s payments and loyalty programs. Research from IPSOS and Vyze shows that Millennials are much more likely to want a mobile credit application. Retailers should start the groundwork now to accommodate mobile-first customers.

Offering More Flexible Payment Options

With long gift lists and multiple people to shop for, customers are looking for deals and flexible ways to pay. Retailers have a lot to gain by offering more financing options. In our most recent research, one-third of customers want to pay for big-ticket purchases with store-offered financing options (installment loan, lease, etc). Over 85% of customers then go on to return to the store to use that financing. Retailers should look into adding financing products or working with third party credit providers to add more options so more customers gain purchasing power.

Create Versatile In-store and Online Purchasing

While it’s important to innovate your shopping experience through mobile, it’s even more important to not forget about two of the most dominant shopping channels: in-store and ecommerce. Shoppers have come to expect a level of consistency between the two channels that allow them to browse in-store and order online, or shop online and then pick-up at their local store. Giving customers the choice of where to make their purchases removes the friction of dilemmas like products running out on store racks or not wanting to wait on shipping.

With this degree of flexibility, it’s also important to keep the experiences between these two channels consistent. For example if customers can use or apply for your retail credit card in-store, they should be able to do the same online.

Invest in your sales associates and customer support

Sales associates are retailers’ biggest brand champions. They are often times viewed as the faces of a brand by customers since they interact with them throughout the shopping journey. Sales associates can make a huge difference between a positive customer experience, and a lost sale. Start now by creating the right training materials necessary to get your associates prepared for the holiday rush. This stands for both in-store associates and remote call center employees. This is one investment that will pay off more than you think.

Now is the time to start planning. While many of these initiatives would have taken years to do in the past, new retail technology vendors have cropped up to make the process easier and improve time to market. One such provider is Vyze.

To find out what those holiday sales numbers could look like for you by adding or expanding your credit loyalty program, take five minutes to fill out the Vyze revenue generator calculator.

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