This year I was in a retail store on Halloween and saw the merchandising staff optimizing for the holiday season. We are starting to squeeze out Thanksgiving because many retailers crave the holiday season in hopes that it will put them in the black, especially during these economic times. During this holiday season you will see that retailers have realized that consumers have become more price conscious and their marketing will focus more on the value of each dollar that you spend, because they realize that's what your looking for.
How will retailers, both online and off be vying for your business?
Brick and Mortar Retailers
You will see marketing tactics and strategies in brick and mortar retailers, some that you are familiar with, and others that offer a level of convenience and way to make it easier for you to spend your hard earned dollar. They are focused on creating an urgency for you to complete your holiday shopping with them. A few of the strategies that you will see or have already seen include:
Holiday campaigns started earlier. Toys R Us started Oct 30th, Kohls started Nov 1st and Gap launched their integrated campaign Shop Yourself Social on Nov 8th. Most retailers went right from Halloween to Christmas promotions. However, Nordstrom did just the opposite by releasing the following statement "“We will continue to honor our tradition of waiting until after Thanksgiving to decorate our stores this year as well – just as we’ve always done.”
Open on Thanksgiving. Kmart, Gap, and Old Navy have announced that they will be open on Thanksgiving day. They are hoping to capture consumers that want to get a jump start on holiday shopping. Other retailers such as Target, Best Buy, Macy's, and Kohl's will open slightly after midnight on Nov 25th.
Store layaways. It's no secret that consumers are experiencing tight budgets and credit crunches. Retailers realized that they needed to do something to drive consumer spending into their stores, so they relaunched their layaway programs. Retailers participating in this marketing tactic includes Sears, Kmart, Toys R Us, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Burlington coat Factory.
Online retailers are anticipating their best year yet. Research and studies have shown that more purchases will be made online this year than any other previous year. They've geared up with tools and better merchandising that will make it easier for you to buy and leave you feeling like you got the best value. Every year online retailers dig a little deeper into their profit margins in order to gain your business and steal it from the brick and mortar. A few of these strategies and tactics include:
Timing. This may be the first year that Cyber Monday loses it's value. Many online retailers will be pushing sales out on Thanksgiving day and continuing through Cyber Monday in hopes of capturing consumers before they hit the stores on Black Friday.
Free shipping or deep discounted shipping. Online retailers have started to realize that 58% of consumers will abandon their online shopping carts because of the price of shipping. This has caused many etailers to offer free shipping or deep discounts on shipping. Walmart announced that they will be doing free shipping during the holiday season, this has set the bar for online stores hoping to capture holiday sales and many are struggling with coming up with ways to compete.
Increase in email marketing campaigns. You may have already noticed, but if not yet be patient it's coming. As a consumer you could see an increase of 15% - 20% in email promotional campaigns during the holidays.
Mobile marketing and push. Studies have shown that more consumes are purchasing via their smartphone, so you'll see ecommerce retailers rolling out more mobile promotions. They will be pushing exclusive deals to their mobile users. These are deals you won't see on their website or in their emails. They want to capture your attention via mobile, and they are willing to push significant specials to you just to gain the ability to market to you via mobile technology.
Comparison shopping and reviews. Etailers have realized that many online shoppers depend highly on online reviews and comparison shopping engines, so you'll be seeing more of your online retailers using these tools to entice you to purchase.
As you can see retailers want you to buy, whether that be in a brick and mortar store or online doesn't matter. They just want you to spend your money with them. You'll see specials this year like you've never seen before. Retailers need to increase their bottom lines. They are depending on this holiday season and they are going all out to gain a percentage of the projected increase in spending this year. The good news is that as a consumer you have options. Shop smart, research specials and don't buy unless you feel your getting value, because if one store won't give you what you are looking for another one will.