On October 25, Alliance Data’s Director of Marketing & Loyalty Advancement, Aimee Koontz, participated in a live Twitter Chat (#HolidayRetailChat) with leaders from across the Alliance Data enterprise, including Epsilon, LoyaltyOne, and Conversant. The topic at hand: which trends we can expect to see this holiday season and into the New Year.
We quickly realized 140 characters wasn’t enough to really get the most out of Aimee’s expertise, so we’ve asked her to give us a bit more time — and a few more words — on the subject.
Alliance Data: Aimee, what’s top of mind for retailers right now?
Aimee Koontz: For me, November is always the time when to-do lists get longer and schedules get busier. Like most former retailers, I’ve been thinking about the holidays and what’s to come in 2017 for a while, but as I was participating in our Alliance Data Twitter Chat it really hit me — we’ve been all talk, talk, talk, but now BOOM, here come the holidays.
As one of the “thought leadership” groups in our organization, my team and I are watching trends non-stop — regardless of the moment in time. Trend-watching is one of those things where, if you blink, you might have missed something important. So we’re always reading, watching, talking to our partners, talking to their customers. We’re always curious about what’s to come and, more importantly, why we should care about it. As technology shifts and brands get savvier, we know customer behaviors are shifting as well. Holidays are generally that critical time for retailers when we see brands pull out all the stops. Since July, we’ve been watching advancements in technology and experiential moments to anticipate how retailers will answer the customers’ demands for “more.” More levels of service to answer their every need. More ways to engage, going beyond just the simple products in store. And more from a loyalty perspective — customers will only give more if brands do as well.
AD: So how are brands delivering all that “more”?
AK: In the 2017 edition of our annual Now, New, Next trends report, we looked at exactly that — how brands are providing much, much more. They’re using technology, benefits, and experiential moments in an effort to win over customers. It all equates to how brands are positioning themselves to win and be relevant in today’s shifting landscape. The first question posed during the #HolidayRetailChat was about which trends are gaining traction this season. (Aimee’s answer: One-to-one commerce. One brand. One customer. Individualized everything.) Customers aren’t impressed with generalized information. They want more in the way of personalization and experiences that are designed to meet their individual needs. Along that same line of thought, we were also asked, “What can brick-and-mortar stores do to better compete with online shopping?” (Aimee’s answer: Stop competing with online shopping. Think one seamless brand.) Give your customers more by not forcing them to make concessions. Be where they need you to be, and base your decisions on how to keep your customers at the center of your brand.
In today’s brand-to-customer relationships, “more” is the key element to everything. Making more out of every moment, every interaction. Providing them more through experiences that are unique to your brand. Ensuring that every technology improvement offers them more in the way of service and eliminates their pain points.
AD: Any predictions for the upcoming year?
AK: It’s probably clear from the rest of my responses — there’s a lot “more” to come in 2017. Shameless plug: To see what’s in store for the 2016 holiday and the upcoming year, check out the insights tab at KnowMoreSellMore.com.
Read all of Aimee’s responses to the #HolidayRetailChat below.