The books are closed on the 2017 holiday shopping season, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Retailers came up with all kinds of interesting strategies last year, making it seem like the retail industry’s version of the popular HBO show “Game of Thrones”, eager to drive high holiday sales and build a loyal customer base.
Target kicked off holiday shopping with several promotions in early November – free shipping through December 23rd, promotional weekend pricing, 3,000+ items priced lower than $15, and gift box service that recipients configure themselves.
Participating Nordstrom stores piloted a 24-7 curbside pickup program (yes, you read that right). Walmart threw holiday parties in stores, featuring Santa and all the accoutrements. Amazon offered a select group of products for sale in Whole Foods stores. Everyone was in it to be crowned number one, and most importantly to win over loyal customers.
Now that the holidays are over, we’re seeing the results of those strategic activities. Amazon’s preliminary results appear astronomical, with 4 million new Amazon Prime memberships in one week (!) and a 70 percent leap in Amazon App shopping.
Despite their massive promotional activity, Target announced a 1.3 percent dip in comparable store sales. And the saddest story so far is Toys ‘R’ Us impending closure of 180 stores, representing 20 percent of their total physical footprint.
Even though the total retail spend increased by 5.5 percent year-over-year, representing the biggest increase since the 2008-2009 recession, the results were mixed for individual retailers.
But there was one trend among high-performing retailers, and that’s the use of credit financing as a powerful lever to drive sales and crack the code of what makes a loyal customer.
The Vyze retail credit platform supported many retailers in their desire to give more of their customers more purchasing power. In 2017 alone, Vyze helped retailers extend more than $1 billion in retail credit. In addition, Vyze demonstrated a staggering 142 percent year-over-year increase in financing volume, as compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday the previous year.
So which retailers came out on top when it comes to their loyalty strategy? Here are just a few of the winners:
Build.com, the largest online home improvement store, partnered with Vyze to inject a private-label retail credit program into both their online shopping cart and call center. With younger generations reaching major life milestones, like buying a house, Build.com knew that the key to winning the holiday season was to make their products as affordable as possible to their demographic. During the 2017 holiday season, Build.com tripled average ticket sizes made on the private-label card, as compared to purchases on non-store cards.
Adorama Camera, an electronics retailer based in New York City, launched a special financing offer supported by the Vyze platform just in time for the holiday shopping season with the goal of creating a great experience for their online customers and building brand loyalty. That offer includes no money down and interest-free financing if paid in full for purchases over a set period of time. Adorama’s average purchase amount more than doubled during holiday 2017, from $500 with no credit program to $1,325 with a credit program!
The Home Depot
The largest home improvement retailer has had a retail credit offer on the books for years, but more than 30 percent of applicants were rejected during the application process. The Home Depot introduced a multi-lender offering using the Vyze network of lenders, and experienced a 54 percent increase in year-over-year repeat holiday sales and almost double the financing volume as Black Friday 2016.
ICON Health & Fitness
When it comes to exercise equipment, December and January are big sales months for customers eager to start their New Year’s resolutions. ICON Health & Fitness knew that it is key to make their big-ticket products more affordable to consumers to enable healthy lifestyles. Through Vyze, ICON is able to offer financing on popular brands like NordicTrack, Proform and Gold’s Gym through their ecommerce site and through their call center associates. After implementing the Vyze solution in their online checkout process, ICON gained a 122 percent increase in year-over-year credit sales!
The Effect of Retail Credit
Credit has always been viewed as a loyalty driving tool by retailers. However, merely having a credit solution in place doesn’t ensure loyal customers: it’s how retailers leverage their program to make credit options available to more customers, and a pleasant experience instead of just another step in the payment process that drives repeat purchases and brand loyalty.
At the end of the day, retailers offering flexible credit options are demonstrating empathy for their customers. If you’ve ever wanted to make an out-of-reach purchase or been rejected for credit approval in a public setting, you know just how it feels – awful. And in this cutthroat retail environment, it’s critical to use all the tools in your arsenal, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.