Looking into the crystal (Christmas) ball

By Patricia Mirasol

RETAILERS wishing to capitalize on the upcoming Christmas season have to ensure their holiday marketing connects with customers at every point of the shopping journey. According to digital commerce platform Adobe Commerce, this entails personalizing interactions at scale, adapting shipping strategies, increasing customer engagement touchpoints, and preparing in advance for key shopping dates.

A crucial factor in positioning a brand as relevant is by aligning its marketing campaigns with the context of a consumer’s life — whether that consumer be a working parent, or working from home. Adding a personal touch, such as when a store associate suggests an accessory for a dress, is also important. Personalized retail experiences are known to drive loyalty and growth, as per a 2017 global study by Forrester Consulting, a research and advisory company.

“Consumers crave human connections, and brands that can build digital experiences will see success during the holiday season. This can be done by hosting events, live commerce or contests on social media,” said Tom Franey, head of e-commerce of motorcycle dealership group Motorcycle Holdings, in Adobe Commerce’s “Eight predictions for the upcoming holiday season” report.

Further encouraging recognition and trust is the use of multiple channels — called the omnichannel approach — to reach customers, as well as ensuring frictionless shopping by offering multiple payment options.

“Payment options are becoming an increasingly important type of preference, and one that is driving loyalty, repeat purchase, and overall value for retailers,” noted Rhys Thomas, head of partner success of Klarna, in the aforementioned Adobe Commerce report.

A third deciding factor is shipping. With local shipment delays seen to stretch into Christmas, retailers can cope by employing strategies such as “click & collect” (wherein consumers order items online and pick them up in a physical store), or focusing on consumers within a closer geographical proximity.

Adobe Commerce further recommends having a strong returns strategy — either by outsourcing the facilitation of returns to a third-party logistics provider, or allowing consumers to return items directly to a physical store.

The holidays are a peak season for commerce, and the pandemic’s physical distancing restrictions have only accelerated the global adoption of digital shopping.

Mordor Intelligence, a market research firm, said the lengthy lockdown measures in the Philippines have compelled locals to switch to online distribution channels for their shopping needs. Its forecast report on the Philippine retail sector for 2021-2026 noted the increase in demand for essential items such as perishable goods and household care items last year.

During the second quarter of 2020, according to the retail sector report, total visits to various online shopping applications rose 24% as compared to the same time the previous year. This trend is anticipated to continue post-pandemic.