How Ecommerce Companies Prepare For The Make-Or-Break Holiday Season

holidayecommerceIf late-year sales are particularly important to you, then your holiday strategy and product development should now be entering its final lap.

What remains is a race to retain customers coming in during the blitz of holiday marketing.

“The actual user connections should be in place before the holidays, not just a strategy,” said Richard Greiner, co-founder of the ecommerce company Huckberry. “It’s a very different environment when you’re introducing your brand to a user during the holidays, as opposed to January through October.”

There just isn’t enough time once the season hits to bring someone through the typical customer or loyalty funnel. Even if you get a conversion on a sale, “that person is likely not going to be a high lifetime value customer; they just ticked something off their list,” said Kevin Hsu, the marketing manager at ecommerce marketplace Touch of Modern.

The question is: How does one turn one-off buyers into returning customers?

Warby Parker’s head of product Chris Maliwat said that one strategy the eyewear startup has embraced isn’t new technology at all, but gift cards, seeing as consumers use multiple shopping platforms.

“Because people are shopping on Pinterest or Instagram or another retail site, but they aren’t shopping in the same way on any of those platforms,” Maliwat explained, gift cards are an effective way to get them to hop on deals or products wherever they happen to find them.

Ideally, retailers would price dynamically, offering user-specific prices. However, this strategy requires knowing each product’s margins and having a good sense of the customer. It’s also fraught with controversy, as there’s price transparency online and people tend not to appreciate businesses preselecting deals for certain customers.

It’s also become altogether too easy to match any low prices by just scraping Walmart or Amazon, said Jonathan Opdyke, co-founder and CEO at HookLogic. Opdyke said the result is that ecommerce companies are finding new ways to package and personalize deals to avoid the blatantly unequal treatment of matching prices to customers.

Both Huckberry and Touch of Modern emphasized a similar point. The two ecommerce markets have rotating deals and products, and the better they know an individual user, the more flexibility they have to package sales into a single offer.

“We need to have developed our audience and targeting lists by the holidays, so we can bundle products effectively,” said Hsu.

Gaming the price tag on a single item to suit individual customers is unpopular, but personalized emails give the chance to manufacture margins across multiple products.

And it isn’t just about price flexibility. A user who makes multiple purchases and who provides his or her email address is significantly more likely to become a loyal, high-value shopper.

“That’s why the real race is now,” said Greiner. “You work from January through September so you know how to reach your audience during the holidays.”

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1 Comment

  1. It’s good to know how these companies prepare for the holidays. Keep sharing posts like this!