Holiday sales: How not to lose sight of your customer experience

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, 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.

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