3 Ways to Turn Holiday Shoppers into Loyal Customers

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Joy. Love. Panic. These are some of the common sentiments shared among last-minute holiday shoppers as we approach the 1-week countdown to December 25th.

While many holiday shoppers have already filled their stockings to the brim and stocked presents under the tree, there’s still an opportunity for retailers to capture latent shoppers’ holiday spending.

As 20% of yearly shopping can be attributed to the last few months of the year, it’s understandable how retailers can only be focused on the short-term conversion of seasonal shoppers. However, for long-term sustainable growth, businesses should be focusing on turning first-time, holiday shoppers into loyal, repeat customers that contribute to the other 80% of sales over the year. Now, that would be a gift that keeps on giving.

Lucky for merchant’s, there are 3 sure-fire ways to round-up holiday spending dollars while laying the pavement for sustainable customer loyalty that will last all year round.

1. Be a multi-channel provider for your holiday shoppers.

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent headlines, then you’re probably aware that businesses are going above and beyond to cater to the omnichannel customer. Retailers that have a history of owning a digital presence are investing in physical stores (Amazon being one of the most infamous examples), and vice versa.

The reason is two-fold. First, today’s consumers are multi-channeled. In a recent Mckinsey study of 46,000 consumers, only 7% of shoppers identified that they were online-only shoppers, 20% were store-only shoppers, and the remaining majority, or 73%, used multiple channels during their shopping journey.

Second, these multi-channel customers are more profitable and more loyal than other customer segments. Omnichannel customers spend an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. Additionally, six months after an omnichannel experience, these customers had logged 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores and were more likely to recommend the brands to family and friends than those who used a single channel.

How should this translate for merchants this holiday season? 1. Be available to customers through every touch point 2. Connect these touch points for a seamless experience.

Short-term win: Give them multi-channel options

Give holiday shoppers the option to buy online and pick-up in-store, or buy in-store and get their purchases shipped. Additionally, make sure your site is mobile optimized so shoppers can easily access your site on any device.

Long-term solution: Implement technology that fuses touchpoints

Merchant’s should look to implement smartphone apps and in-store digital tools such as catalogs, a price-checker or a tablet to create a more seamless, multi-faceted experience.

The more flexible and seamless the customer experience, the deeper the customer loyalty will run. Trust us on this.  

2. Take a minimalist approach to selling through personalization.

If there’s one phenomenon that retailers should account for when making assortment decisions, it’s the Paradox of Choice.”

In a nutshell, if you put more than a handful of products in front of the average human, they are more likely to walk away without making a decision than they are to logically weigh their options.

It’s this behavior that has contributed to the decline of cluttered department stores and fueled the rise of boutique stores, like Nordstrom Local, that operate on little to no inventory and a small storefront.

Understandably, a complete re-engineering of your business model is probably not feasible over the course of a few days. But no matter the size of the digital or physical storefront, merchandisers can help drill down consumer product options through personalization.

Online

Short-term win: Bump up product recommendations.

Online product recommendations use historical sales data and real-time consumer behavior to show recommended products that are specifically attuned to the individual’s preferences. Recommendations reduce product options by only showing consumers the items that they’re most likely to buy – ultimately, increasing conversion and creating an optimized customer experience.

As most sites already utilize recommendations, it may be a good time to consider placing more recommendations on site to drive a more personalized experience for holiday shoppers.

Long-term solution: Make online personalization even more personal.

To fuel fervent customer loyalty, merchandisers need to take online personalization to the next level. 4-Tell’s ‘Your Store,’ for example, creates a microsite through merchant’s ecommerce platform that is dedicated to the unique preferences of each customer. Programmatically, our expert machine-learning system takes real-time consumer signals to dynamically populate product recommendations. We combine this with the transparency of shopper activity and Inline Search to support a seamless experience that is completely tailored to the individual.  

A complete online experience that is dedicated to the individual will set you apart from your competitors and have your customers coming back for more, even after the holiday season.

In-store

Repeat after me: sales associates are a retailer’s best friend. In-store, they serve as the buffer between overwhelming product displays and the customer. Consider them the ultimate brick-and-mortar personalization engine.

Short-term win:  Train knowledgeable sales associates.

Training your employees to be fully knowledgeable about current merchandise and your loyal customer base can lay the groundwork for sales associates to provide a personalized in-store experience for each customer.

Long-term solution: Equip sales associates with the right technology.

Sales personalization efforts can be more impactful when they are equipped with the right tools. Technology, like 4-Tell’s Smart Commerce℠ Platform, connects online customer data to the in-store experience by visually displaying consumers past purchases, real-time online behavior and predictive product recommendations to in-store sales associates. This level of customer transparency allows sales associates to guide every customer to the products that are directly aligned with their unique history and taste.

Ultimately, it’s these kinds of personalized experiences online and offline that will drive loyalty. Just ask the 75% of consumers who are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, OR knows their purchase history.

3. Your customer is king. It’s time to treat them like it.

Surprise of the century: spamming every holiday shopper with the same seasonal promotions doesn’t actually get them to buy more. In fact, it’s those kinds of inauthentic tactics that have customers running in the opposite direction.

Customers demand to feel valued. They yearn for businesses to know them on an individual basis and seek to gradually invest more loyalty through ongoing, intentional dialogue that builds on previous interactions.

They simply want to have a relationship with your brand. Not just a transaction.

To effectively build these relationships, merchant’s need to focus on capturing customer-specific data online and in-store to create more targeted, context-rich campaigns and outreach overtime.

Short-term win: Follow-up with product suggestions and ask for feedback.

Follow-up after holiday shopping has concluded to ask for feedback on the experience or to offer product suggestions based on their previous purchases. Holiday shoppers will feel valued and know that your business is going above and beyond to cater to their specific needs.

Long-term solution: Implement technology that tracks customer data.

Merchandisers should look to implement technology that consistently tracks online and offline behavior and has machine-learning capabilities to derive intelligent product and customer insights from the accumulated data. These insights will increasingly get more intelligent which will conversely fuel more targeted outreach and better assortment decisions. Ultimately, it’s creating customer-centric experiences through highly intelligent customer data that will drive sustainable and profitable loyalty.

Customer loyalty is what will define future market winners. Now is the time to implement the technology and strategies that will convert seasonal shoppers while forging long-term, sustainable loyalty that will last all season long.

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