Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day. Over just more than a month, retailers experience the ultimate sales crunch. A fiercely competitive period with the potential to make or break their year. In the US, holiday purchases make up almost a third of yearly sales for some brands and Europe is following suit.
For companies that get the festive season right, the spoils are plentiful. Our Holiday Shopping data insights, using Adobe Analytics Cloud, reveals spending will jump nearly 25% across France, Germany and the UK during November and December months this year. In the UK, the average shopper has set aside more than £2,000 for holiday gifts and purchases. That’s more than three times the average holiday budget in France and Germany, though spending in these markets is rising fast.
The opportunity is enormous, but these frantic conditions also put brands under enormous pressure to prepare for the mad holiday dash, and do so early each year. Nearly 60% of UK consumers, and half of French and German consumers, now begin their holiday shopping in mid-November to take advantage of seasonal deals.
This pressure can be great for consumers in terms of driving down prices, but it can also be detrimental to the experience they get. From January to November, retailers increasingly focus on the quality of customer experience they offer, but once the holidays hit, best practice has a tendency to go out the window. Eager to drive rapid sales, many brands revert to “pile it high and sell it cheap” clear-outs of unwanted stock dressed up as “Black Friday” bargains, and hastily build web pages that are more frustrating than functional.
These poor experience don’t just turn people off in the moment, they go on to shape how consumers perceive brands throughout the rest of the year. We all love a good deal – that’s why seasonal sales are so successful – but you need to balance competitive prices with a customer experience that creates long-term value and loyalty. After all, what good is a website that crashes constantly because it can’t support a surge in holiday traffic, or an ad promising a 75% discount on your products if customers click through to see you’re out of stock?
Sales alone don’t drive loyalty, experiences do. And if you’re going to go above and beyond for the holidays, do it in a way that’s true to your brand. Lego’s holiday chatbot is a great example of this. Posing as one of Santa’s secret helpers, the chatbot provides customers with gift suggestions via Facebook Messenger. Buyers are then directed directly to Lego.com, strengthening the company’s direct sales while offering its large base of fans a wonderful brand experience.
But companies don’t always have to go that far. Delivering great experiences ultimately comes down to understanding what customers want. In the case of the UK’s Argos, this means making greater use of data to engage shoppers in a more personalised way. Two years ago, the company noticed a significant jump in mobile traffic. Diving deeper into its data, Argos uncovered major differences in the way customers use different mobile channels – for example, people were spending 20% more and browsing higher end products on tablets than on their mobiles – and used these insights to present its products differently to each audience, leading to a 125% boost in sales.
It’s equally important to work in a way that promotes greater levels of customer understanding. L’Occitane until recently relied on separate teams to manage different groups of customers on different channels, an approach that didn’t scale with the rise of digital platforms and omnichannel experiences. Today, L’Occitane serves people in more than 90 countries, which requires a more integrated approach. The retailer uses a robust analytics platform to combine all its data and better understand shoppers at the individual level, which in turn means it can serve them in a more relevant, personalised way.
The countdown to Black Friday is on, signalling the beginning of a crucial time for the entire retail sector. Brands across Europe are getting ready to capitalise, but it won’t be by cobbling together last-minute sales or websites that they will find success. As happens every year, it will be those retailers that have all the right pieces in place to deliver high quality experience that will win the day.
Click here to learn more about how Adobe helps retailers deliver experience-driven commerce all year round. And in case you missed it, see how Adobe Magento Commerce Cloud gives brands more flexibility than ever in the way they engage customers online.