How fashion retailers can avoid a nightmare before Christmas
Support for retailers online strategies ahead of a very COVID Christmas.
The second wave has prompted key regions to enforce national lockdown, causing retailers to close up shop during the peak festive trading period. This makes embracing AI and digital more crucial than ever. We outline four strategies you should adopt to amplify your holiday promotions and online business to come out on top next year.
From Back-to-School to Black Friday, every event in the retail calendar has or will be impacted by the coronavirus, prioritizing market intelligence from a luxury to a must-have.
EDITED is here to power decision-making with real-time data, revolutionizing your Christmas strategies. Get in touch to find out more and keep reading to learn how to optimize holiday trade during lockdown. Plus, catch a sneak peek into the festive products your competitors are backing.
Keep the festive spirit alive online
The new lockdown restrictions announced by the UK government has come into play just as retailers enter the busiest time of year. Footfall is subsequently expected to drop by 62% in the six weeks prior to Boxing Day, as retailers are forced to close and cancel festive in-store events. With a record number of hospitalizations reported in the US, which had over 1 million new cases confirmed in just the first ten days of November, a second lockdown is also anticipated for this market.
Consumers are unlikely to forgo the festive spirit this season, with it expected to be more important than ever. Offer your customers a sense of escapism and turn your homepage into an alternative window display. Moreover, with 60% of consumers expected to complete their Christmas shopping by the end of November, standing out from the crowd will be crucial as consumers flock online over the next month.
Strategies to consider:
Introduce a virtual Christmas shop – John Lewis & Partners unveiled a virtual tour of its Christmas shop at the end of September. The retailer has since reported that its Christmas shop sales have grown by 63% from last year and the virtual shop is currently one of the most viewed pages on its website.
Get creative with discounts – Discounts will reach fever pitch this month, exacerbated by Black Friday on Nov 27th. Stand out with interactive or hidden discounts that encourage customers to navigate through your website. Sweaty Betty recently implemented a “find Betty” promotion which can be reworked with a festive character that appeals to your brand.
Create excitement with online advent calendars – Offer new discounts or giveaways each day in the lead up to Christmas as a way to keep consumers engaged, while prioritizing your site to return to over competitors.
Maintain a high level of service
The first wave led to an e-commerce boom as many consumers were forced to shop online for the first time – 47% of baby boomers increased their online shopping during this period. However, some consumers still don’t like shopping online, particularly when it comes to Christmas, which is typically a fun day out for many. Transitioning your regular in-store shoppers online will be crucial for maintaining sales over the period.
Make sure this transition is as seamless as possible for your new online customer. Be transparent and communicate clearly about potential issues ahead of purchase, particularly delivery delays. Offering a personalized experience will also be key here and help recreate aspects of the in-store experience and interaction these shoppers value highly. Nailing this will help maintain brand loyalty and lead to a higher customer retention rate in the long term.
Strategies to consider:
Offer welcome discounts – this can help entice new customers to purchase online.
Clearly communicate last delivery times – communications here will be crucial for any last-minute shoppers. Consider this date cautiously, bearing in mind stresses on postal services and making workforces COVID-secure.
Introduce gift wrapping services – With in-person gift exchanges less likely this year, the service will mean gifts can be sent directly to the recipient and is likely to be a selling point for customers.
Offer virtual shopping for gifting – The first wave saw a number of retailers invest in virtual personal shopping experiences to maintain one-to-one interaction with customers while stores were closed. John Lewis & Partners expanded this service to gifts back in July, with shoppers able to book a 30-minute appointment via Zoom.
Prioritize an online concierge – Similarly, Saks Fifth Avenue introduced an email concierge that helped customers answer basic site questions and booked curbside pickup slots. This strategy makes customers feel they are getting a higher level of service and can also help new online consumers navigate the online shopping experience more easily.
Focus on your social channels
While big Christmas advert reveals are normally highly-anticipated in the lead up to Christmas, advertisers are expected to spend nearly £725m less than 2019 as many grapple with hitting the right tone with customers during these uncertain times.
Maintaining a strong relationship with your online community will be key, particularly in terms of listening to and understanding their wants and needs over this period. Look back and evaluate the social strategies you implemented during the first wave, learn what worked and what didn’t and reintroduce those with proven results.
Strategies to consider:
Focus on influencer marketing – Marks & Spencer has scrapped its apparel Christmas ad to focus on groceries this year, and is instead relying on influencers to drive sales here. Be careful as inauthentic posts will feel insensitive during this time – ensure influencers are relatable to your market and consider featuring employees and real customers to expand your reach.
Reintroduce IGTV events and tutorials – DIY crafts and fashion spiked earlier this year as consumers tapped into their creative sides during lockdown. John Lewis & Partners found in a recent survey that a third of recipients said they would make their own presents this year. Provide tutorials on homemade gifts, wreath making and other festive activities to keep consumers entertained and engaged.
Show your support to those in need
The global pandemic has had a huge impact on livelihoods and seen unemployment levels rise as many businesses, particularly independent ones, struggle to stay afloat during these challenging times. With Christmas typically a time of goodwill and giving to those in need, consumers are likely to pull together and will expect retailers to do the same.
Retailers who are empathetic to the current situation and support causes consumers care about, will be a deciding factor when it comes to placing their brand loyalty and spending money this festive season. Rally together and show your support for local businesses and communities struggling during the festive season – customers will remember who stepped up during these hard times and who didn’t.
Strategies to consider:
Giving Tuesday takes place on Dec 1st – Be sure to take part and promote the GiveBack2020 initiative, which encourages support for charities. In 2019, 69 emails were sent in the US & UK supporting the event.
Expand gifting by recipient – Nearly 25% of people in the recent John Lewis & Partners survey said they are planning to give a gift to a neighbor or member of their community this Christmas – this is double as many as last year.
Introduce a donate as you spend strategy – While money is tight for many this year, making a donation on behalf of customers when they shop online will be a welcomed initiative.
What are retailers stocking for the festive period?
Our analyst team trawled the US & UK markets to bring you the top holiday trends retailers are investing in. Call it a sanity checker for your Christmas buys.