Retailers are heading into the 2021 holiday season with hesitancy. The competition will be intense and brands must be ready for the unexpected (see Delta variant). Having said that, there will be plenty of opportunities for retailers to win this holiday season, as long as they identify innovative revenue streams and elevate their customer channel approach.
Zeta is placing "big bets" on several emerging trends this holiday season that will help retailers gain a competitive advantage:
- Live streaming
- Virtual carts
- Same-day delivery
- Connected TV
- Live CSR video
Live streaming is a great way to add topline dollars to your marketing mix. Retailers can set up livestream equipment in the corner of a store, distribution center, or even a pop-up location to promote popular holiday items in real-time. Test timeframes and audiences for maximum effect.
Tap into store sales associates willing to participate, hire authentic influencers, or even incentivize loyal customers to be brand advocates.
By pairing engaging personalities, merchandise, storytelling, lighting, and a unique set up with an exclusive holiday offer can drive brand awareness and ultimately conversions.
Amplifying the customer experience is more crucial than ever. Every brand has loyalists and advocates that engage across channels and touchpoints.
As inventory woes are expected to impact shopper loyalty this year, it’s important that your brand identifies gaps in its CX. Doing so will make it easier to uncover new business opportunities and find customers that look similar to existing brand advocates.
Virtual carts are a great starting point because they:
- Allow shoppers to keep their preferred method of payment on file. If someone has visited your site more than three times looking for inventory and sees it’s back in stock, they’ll want to jump on the opportunity with as few roadblocks as possible.
- Include an option to auto-charge a shopper’s payment method once an item they’re interested in is back in stock. This will ensure the product won’t go out of stock again before the shopper can purchase it. The easier you make it to buy, the more loyal your customers become.
- Secure a down payment from shoppers upfront to hold a certain size for an allocated period of time. This will enable them to return to your site and checkout when it’s convenient for them and will incentivize them to not abandon cart.
Although 30 percent of consumers will shop at brick and mortars exclusively during the holidays, the bulk of seasonal hiring shouldn't be for extra in-store personnel. Instead, holiday hires should be used to create a better customer experience for those consumers who'll be shopping online. Use extra holiday labor to better provide ecommerce shoppers with same-day delivery in select markets.
Every day, retailers grapple with being short (or over) on inventory. This holiday season will be no different as logistical issues intensify. Adding a new marketing channel into the mix may be the difference between success and defeat for retailers.
Connected TV (CTV) advertising — a rising trend in the retail marketplace — (on a local level within the DMA of a single store) can cut down on the number of times a product touched, limiting the rising cost of returns plaguing the retail industry.
Instead of shipping an overbought product back to the warehouse, marking it down, or putting it on "clearance" after the holidays, consider promoting it via CTV. Use QR codes to drive consumers to an online landing page that requires only a couple clicks to buy.
Introduce exclusive products that are not located in all doors of your brand on CTV. Great way to target an audience locally.
Live CSR Video
Clienteling isn't new — knowing the customer well enough to personalize the shopping experience is the best way to achieve a high-touch, high-caring sale.
But in recent years, retailers started using chatbots to migrate the traditional high cost of clienteling (i.e. employing customer service reps). While this no doubt reduced operational expenses, it degraded the customer experience, impacting net promoter scores for the worse. That's why brands need to look for a new way to help customers with their questions and issues this holiday season.
Enter live video — a way for retailers to achieve personal, face-to-face experiences that are more human that chatbots but less expensive than employing in-store customer service reps.
While not yet mainstream, live video chats are making their way into the world of retail — especially after more than a year of online-only communication due to the pandemic.
Melissa Tatoris is vice president, retail at Zeta Global, a cloud-based marketing technology company that empowers enterprises to acquire, grow, and retain customers.