You’d be surprised to remember it’s early November, the festive lights have started to go up in Carnaby street, our favourite selection tubs are on the shelves, and the mystery has been lifted to what seasonal flavours we can expect from Starbucks and Costa! Readers, this can only mean one thing; the Christmas period is here!

However, for marketers around the globe this is not new news. Prepping for one of the busiest periods of the year, kicking off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday later this month, has been at the forefront of their minds for many months now. The question ‘How are we going to ensure the BEST Customer Experience?’ is echoing around every hallway.

In this digital age, it’s crucial for retailers and logistics businesses to keep pace with ever-increasing consumer expectations. But it hasn’t always been this way. For retailers especially, it is crucial that we look back at the Christmas tradition of the past to understand the customer experience of the future, Christmas shopping is becoming a tradition in transition.

From Tracy Island to Turbo-Man and beyond 

In the early 90’s, the high street was the place to go for any of your Christmas needs. The idea of personalisation was in its infancy and the internet was yet to become the backbone of society. A simpler time where the Customer Experience followed a traditional sales funnel and revolved around supply, demand, and best price. It’s hard not to remember the crazed queue of parents outside every Woolworths, Argos, and local toy shop trying to get the widely sold out Tracey Island in 1992.

The customer journey of old is best depicted in the 1996 movie Jingle all the Way. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a workaholic father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who promises to get his son the hottest toy of the season even though it’s practically sold out. The film follows the hilarious lengths he goes to for the ultimate toy.

You won’t see this type of flurry on the high street today.

The retail landscape has significantly changed due to the digitisation of shopping and shift in consumer buying behaviour. Consumers today have low attention spans, shop mobile first, use peer recommendations, and conduct research before making a purchase. Last Christmas’ decline in brick and mortar footfall clearly indicates a fundamental change in peoples’ shopping habits.

For retailers today, creating a unified, seamless experience between digital channels and bricks and mortar can give them a competitive advantage, but only if they use the data at their fingertips. Digital transformation presents an opportunity for traditional retailers to improve the overall shopping experience of their customers – if done right!

If the 1996 classic was to be filmed today, it’s needless to say that it would be less exciting to watch Arnie click dejectedly through the internet rather than fight with his fellow shoppers. However, this is the truth of today’s digital economy and millennial based shoppers – so how can retailers compete and capitalise in the Christmas rush of today? 

Ringing the bells of change

It is said that the three months leading up to Christmas are the most profitable, with many making over half their total sales for the year. Retailers and marketeers must be ready all year round to make the maximum impact with their customers, and that comes down to communication.

The key to success is not only to understand what touch points your customers have experienced and what brought them to you but to communicate with them through their preferred communication method – be that SMS, email, Facebook, Messenger, push notification, or voice.

Forty-severn percent of consumers believe that good communication has the biggest impact on Customer Experience. So, during the festive season, you’ll do well if your communications are relevant, timely, and personalised.

Historically, retailers have always prioritised acquisition with a myriad of emails featuring non-specific promotions. However, mass marketing is not only a waste of time and resource, but one of the main reasons why consumers unsubscribe from communications.

Instead, leverage data from transactions and interactions your customers have already had with your brand to automate personalised messages. When you consolidate CRM data and marketing activity across all your channels, you’ll ensure that you’re not bombarding your customers with irrelevant messages.

Data gives you the power to contact them at opportune moments, for example to remind them about the gift they’ve been looking at or to tell them that stock is running low.

Get the Christmas Customer Experience right and you’ll add to the festivities. Get it wrong and you’ll be left shouting ‘bah, humbug’ as you lose out to the new wave of competition.

A customer is for life, not just for Christmas

We’ve moved far beyond listening to the Spice Girls get crowned Christmas number one on the radio as we wait in line to purchase gifts for our loved ones. Today, we’re streaming Michael Buble’s Christmas album to get in the festivities from our smartphone to the surround sound in the living room, browsing the web for the best Christmas deals.

While it’s important not to neglect the in-store experience, tapping into customers’ festive goodwill is definitely more digital than ever before.

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