Checking It Twice: 2 Holiday Shopping Trends to Watch

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With each passing day, the official holiday season grows closer and closer. While malls are already playing Christmas tunes and department stores are all decked out in twinkle lights, the true rush has yet to begin. Soon, Black Friday deal-grabbers and last-minute shoppers will flock to the store and clutter the aisles, while others will hop online to research sales and avoid these crazy crowds. But, as shoppers seek an ideal parking spot, marketers are out to find new ways to engage customers at every turn.

With each passing day, the official holiday season grows closer and closer. While malls are already playing Christmas tunes and department stores are all decked out in twinkle lights, the true rush has yet to begin. Soon, Black Friday deal-grabbers and last-minute shoppers will flock to the store and clutter the aisles, while others will hop online to research sales and avoid these crazy crowds. But, as shoppers seek an ideal parking spot, marketers are out to find new ways to engage customers at every turn.Yet, while retailers continue to battle showrooming and embrace e-receipts, two channels in particular are gaining more momentum than ever:

Public Wish Lists and Social Sharing

Through social media, companies have the opportunity to incorporate wish list tools that may otherwise not be available on their website. With public wish lists, brands enable consumers to share the products they're interested in with their entire network, effectively dropping hints throughout the entire holiday season. Companies will find that encouraging social sharing sparks conversation, getting customer to start talking about the brand's products and generating buzz by word of mouth.

From Pinterest to Facebook, social sharing offers granular insights, as companies can monitor precisely which items consumers share most frequently. Social media allows brands to focus on specific products, thereby understanding the customer's perspective at the most basic level. Companies can take things one step further by integrating clickable pieces in their email correspondence that track interest and enable quick, easy sharing. Such tactics will also improve targeting and relevance, as companies will come to recognize what each customer wants most from their relationship with the brand--an essential step for those in today's highly competitive retail environment.

Mobile Customer Engagement

While mobile has clearly become an integral element of the shopping experience, expectations are expected to soar even higher as the holiday season gets underway. However, with multiple channels converging on one device, companies must be sure to create and disseminate messages that are targeted, relevant, and valuable to the consumer.

"Don't bombard customers with the same mass message across email, SMS, and display," says Wacarra Yeomans, director of creative services at Responsys. "Similarly, don't send a customer an offer for a product they just purchased. Know who your customers are, what they like, and where they are in the purchase journey."

By exercising their strategy carefully, marketers have the opportunity to embrace mobile in a way that encourages loyalty and reduces call center costs. If customers can see that the given brand cares enough to spend the time it takes to learn their preferences, they are far more likely to engage with the company's messaging across channels. But such tactics must relate to the consumer's interests as closely as possible without becoming repetitious, for mobile's "on the go" nature makes it even easier to bypass one message and move on to the next.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION