In past years, the holiday seasons kicked off with a bang. Seemingly overnight, retail stores transformed their window displays, painting snowmen and spraying white frost on the glass, hanging decorated wreaths, and placing fully decorated Christmas trees inside. Coffee shops suddenly offered pumpkin spice flavors and restaurants revamped their menus with a seasonal spin on just about every dish. With the holiday spirit in the air and shoppers out and about, every brick-and-mortar store saw a measurable increase in foot traffic and seasonal revenue alike. Commerce was great during Christmastime.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the upcoming holiday season isn't necessarily looking quite as profitable for retailers. For nearly a full year, Americans have been instructed--and also legally mandated--to avoid crowds, keep away from one another, wear masks, stay at home, and otherwise alter their life, lifestyle, and shopping routines as part of a government-prescribed effort to reduce the infection and fatality rates of COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, the increase in foot traffic throughout the holiday season had always been especially valuable to retailers for the obvious reason of increased revenue. But higher profits weren't the only value. The more customers at your retail store, the greater the success you would have at enrolling a portion of them into your customer loyalty rewards program.
But today, the pandemic is still upon us. A new normal has set in, and it has affected in-store shopping. So, how can retailers make the most out of the upcoming holiday season and have a shot at enrolling customers into their loyalty rewards program?
Retailers like you will have to get creative and implement memorable shopping experiences while upholding applicable COVID-19 safety measures. Don't worry, the loyalty strategists at Loyal~n~Save have pulled together a list of innovative ideas to help you engage with customers and convert them into loyalty members with ease.
42% of US consumers plan to use loyalty points to fund their holiday shopping.
ADD A HOLIDAY THEME TO YOUR BRANDING
Giving your logo a seasonal revamp doesn't have to be a major production. You can do something as subtle and simple as changing the colors of your logo design to reflect the holiday, such as using green and red. Or, if you have more time, you can use fun, seasonal embellishments like snowflakes, wrapped presents, and Santa Clause. Just be certain that after all is said and done, your brand logo will still be recognizable to your customers.
HOLD SIDEWALK SALES
Just because you run a retail store doesn't mean the browsing, shopping, and payment processing has to take place inside. Hosting a sidewalk sale can be a festive way to give your customers the holiday shopping experience without the rules and restrictions of this "new normal". In the fresh air, your customers will be able to breathe a little easier. You can use mobile-based POS for credit and debit card processing. Just be sure to check with your local municipality in case you'll need a special permit.
OFFER TOUCHLESS SHOPPING
For all the measures that retailers have taken to uphold social distancing and mask wearing guidelines, it's mind boggling that customer after customer touches the same POS processing device. If you really analyze the situation, the customer-facing card reader isn't the only thing shoppers touch, one after the next. Browsing includes touching items and reading ingredients close-up. As a retailer, however, try to reimagine the in-store shopping experience and how you can involve your sales staff so that your customers are touching less and buying more.
REARRANGE YOUR STORE'S INTERIOR
Building upon the last idea to offer touchless indoor shopping, we also recommend that you rethink your interior floorspace and rearrange your store to ensure spatial distancing between shoppers. Yes, it might require a fair amount of physical labor, but the fact of the matter is that during the holiday season, shoppers tend to cram down narrow aisles and reach around one another to snatch the items they want. Catering to their need for additional space will help give them room so that they can shop freely without worrying.
TRY APPOINTMENT-BASED SHOPPING
Appointment-based shopping is as innovative as it gets, and it's exactly what it sounds like--customers make appointments prior to shopping at your store. Why is this a clever holiday idea? Because it provides your customers with a VIP experience while you remain in full control of how many shoppers are in your store at any given time. Depending on how deeply you're willing to organize this type of holiday shopping experience, when customers call in to book their appointments, you can instruct your sales staff to work with them over the phone, making a list of items they'd like to browse or buy and pulling those from the shelves. Receiving a "personal shopping assistant" experience will elevate your brand in their minds and make it all the easier for them to want to enroll in your customer loyalty rewards program.
SELL PRE-PACKAGED GIFTS
Shoppers might prefer to order online or over the phone and then pick up their order curbside, so it's a good idea to have a system for those options in place. To make your holiday customers' lives a little easier than that, you can offer pre-packaged gift sets and kits that come completely wrapped in holiday wrapping paper. This can help cut down on in-store shopping time and reduces in-person shoppers without compromising revenue or turning customers away.
41% of consumers will shop at retailers and brands where they can earn rewards points during the holiday season.
OFFER E-COMMERCE ITEMS
Amp up your online efforts and improve the online shopping experience at your e-commerce site as well as your social media business profiles with e-commerce capabilities. It isn't necessary to sell every retail item online, either. To save time and effort, you can add only your best holiday items to your e-commerce site. Having a digital store is a great option for shoppers who don't want to leave their homes, just be sure the product information is clear and the shipping timeframes are accurate. Once your e-commerce site includes your holiday sales items, you can easily market them on your social media accounts for wider exposure.
PROMOTE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
It might not seem like the most direct way to provide your customers with a memorable shopping experience this holiday season, but using your social media channels to connect with potential customers actually can enhance their experience with your brand. Inform your social media followers about the fun holiday sales and events you have planned at your store, and give them clear call-to-action steps if they want to shop at your Facebook or Instagram platforms or on your e-commerce site instead. Keeping your social media accounts active and manually managed will also provide your followers with an instant line of communication where they can DM you with questions or complaints.
CREATE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES
Offering virtual holiday experiences on your website and social media platforms is a great way to make the holidays memorable for your customers. When you strongly promote your brand online, you naturally increase interaction with your followers. Use video posts and regularly update your stories on Facebook and Instagram with direct messages that go beyond relaying holiday sales information by including holiday trivia and personal holiday anecdotes that encourage engagement. Experiment with getting as festive as possible to form a greater connection with your followers. And remember, the more relatable you are, the stronger the bond between your customers and your brand.
When implementing these ideas and interacting with your customers both in-store and online, be sure to make your loyalty program known to shoppers who aren't yet enrolled. This is the best time of year to interest your holiday season customers in shopping with you year-round. Additional ways to do this include:
- offer exclusive deals and special discounts to customers who enroll so that they experience an immediate reward
- offer bonus points for signing up and additional bonus points for increased holiday shopping, the terms of which you can personalize
- offer gift certificates to big spenders who both earn and redeem points within a short period of time leading up to and throughout the holidays; these can be virtual gift certificates that are generated and scanned via your loyalty app or by another digital means such as email
- offer free or reduced shipping rates for loyalty members and make this perk known to your shoppers to incentivize signing up
If you found this Loyal~n~Save article helpful and would like in-depth strategic advice about building a customer loyalty promotional campaign for the holidays, we've got your how-tos right here, Is Your Loyalty Program Ready for the Holidays? Planning A Holiday Loyalty Campaign: Parts 1, 2, and 3.
This article was written by Loyal-n-Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.