With just over one full week left before Christmas, retailers are vying to be the destination for last minute shoppers while they also strive to capture incremental spend from faithful customers. We asked marketing leaders from Bonobos, Gilt Groupe, Home Depot, Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and Sears to share their tactics.
During the holiday season, retailers are increasingly discounting to attract customers who are getting bombarded by promotions. With all the noise, campaigns become indistinguishable and customers buy for the bargain without increasing their affinity for a given company. Online men’s clothier, Bonobos believes that more fun and interactive promotions can drive revenue while deepening customer relationships with the brand. According to Bonobos VP Marketing, Richard Mumby, “we find that the more a promotion highlights our distinguishing brand attributes, the higher the response rate. Social media platforms provide unique opportunities to attract fans and followers through gamified contests and promotions.” Currently, Bonobos is running a Twitter trivia campaign called #SecretCode where followers can earn daily discounts up to $120 off by solving the daily clue or riddle.
For Gilt Groupe’s Sr. Director, Online, Mobile & Social Marketing, Jason John, it’s all about the customer experience. John stresses to double quality assurance on all promotions. “There’s nothing worse for a customer to be excited about a great deal, only to be disappointed at the last minute by a malfunctioning coupon code or a promotion that didn’t work. So make sure the quality assurance process is scrutinized for the last holiday push.” John warns to keep an eye on affiliates to know what they are promoting and that they have current terms and conditions.
Jason John went on by stressing the importance of making ship cut-off and expedited shipping rates very visible and over-communicate if need be. Too often this is left to the end of a process and again creating a bad customer experience. Be very clear on additional fees that will be incurred to get that gift delivered on time. Jason John’s final piece of advice is to ensure that last minute marketing offers are in sync with customer service. “Being aligned is always critical, but more so with such a time-sensitive rush during the holiday. Be sure to walk customer service through updated promotions and deadlines to confirm that they’re on the same page.”
Understanding the variants between your holiday (gifting) business vs. your ‘rest of the year’ business is extremely important. In the case with Lucky Brand, their overarching mission is to be the denim authority – period. However, in the holiday season, jeans are a tough gift for people to give to someone else, so a shift in merchandising mix towards shoes/accessories/fashion should be expected and potentially embraced.
Charlie Cole, VP Online Marketing at Lucky Brand, illustrates the importance of respecting your consumer relationship by being careful not to risk a long-term relationship by overly pushing short-term sales opportunities. “Every consumer at this point is receiving 7, 10, 15 emails a day from stores that are taking advantage of the medium and sending every single day to make forecast. Think long-term, respect your customers, and maintain the relationship that pre-existed prior to holiday.”
For multi-channel retailers like Lucky Brand, drive consumers to their preferred medium. If you have a store offer that doesn’t mirror an online offer, send that marketing message to the consumer with a history of shopping in stores only, and send a different message to the online channel. “There’s no reason to not personalize,” says Cole.
Juicy Couture shared some quick and simple tactics that prove successful for them during the final holiday shopping crunch. VP of eCommerce, Katherine Bahamonde, encourages to automatically upgrade all online orders received from Saturday, December 17th to Wednesday, December 21st to 2 or 3 day air at no charge. Bahamonde also suggests heavily promoting boxed gifts that are ready to be put under the tree.
Gift cards are the ultimate last minute gift idea. After the holiday shipping cutoff, make a big push across all marketing channels for ecards and gift cards (in store). The Home Depot’s Director of Gift Cards, Spencer Allen, preaches that ease of purchase allows the brand to capture last minute sales. The Home Depot eGift Card is available for purchase from Homedepot.com and also from the Home Depot mobile app, which offers greater convenience to the gift giver. Also for the recipient, the eGift Cards are delivered directly to their email or Facebook wall almost immediately. “During Christmas when stores are closed and shipping deadlines have passed, eGift Cards turn last minute into right on time,” insists Allen.
We wrapped our interviews by speaking with Ian Gomar, Chief Marketing Officer, Fitness, Sporting Goods & Toys at Sears. Gomar’s advice is more bigger picture so perhaps it will serve beyond a last minute tip and end up being a New Year’s resolution: The opportunity to deliver targeted and tailored messaging in a very efficient manner, thereby creating value for the customer and a longer term relationship is where the future lies. At Sears we have our loyalty program, “Shop Your Way” where we can suggest to customers, based on their profile and buying behavior, tailored relevant offers. We can deliver the messages/content via mobile, in-store at point of sale and at home on one’s computer and the customer can engage how they want, when they want. In the words of our business unit President, “In a sense, we’re aiming for the complete liberation of our customers: whatever the media channel, communication vehicle or shopping venue, we will be there, ready to engage with them and let them shop – their way.”
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