The holidays are always a magical time for me. As a mother of four, the excitement of the season and the family memories we make together are beyond words. I love all of the traditions, though the working mom in me gets a bit overwhelmed from the pressures of making each year a holiday to remember. And I’m not alone! According to a 2015 survey from Needle, 84% of consumers state that gift-giving causes stress. For retailers, that pressure is just as high. For many, as much as 40% of yearly sales comes during the critical holiday season. So if those six weeks aren’t successful, the other 46 are virtually irrelevant. The stakes are obviously high, and the consumer expectations are too. Consumers, myself included, demand “optimal” everything: communication, inventory, customer service, innovation, and a partridge in a pear tree. We want it all. In fact, 54% of respondents from our recent Understanding Customer Loyalty study said they are loyal to brands that provide a great shopping and purchasing experience.
This combination of wanting it all and expecting retailers to best meet my needs was what prompted me to take a closer look at the phenomenon of holiday. In July, I had the chance to work alongside Alliance Data’s partners at Epsilon and LoyaltyOne. Together, we leveraged our business insight and deep understanding of data and retail to showcase trends and market forces that are impacting and influencing consumer holiday behavior. We also went a step further to help retailers tackle the holiday highs and lows, while still evoking and maximizing the holiday spirit.
Knowing that holiday shopping can be stressful, many retailers are trying to solve customer pain points and give shoppers the experience they’re looking for. We want the warm and fuzzies without the worry – especially in stores, where the holiday spirit really comes alive. Meanwhile for me (and many others), “window shopping” online is the way to get a jumpstart on holiday planning. Epsilon recently found that 55% of shoppers look at products online before buying in store. It’s no surprise that retailers who embrace mobile are leading the way. They’re making it easier on consumers – from helping us instantly find what we want, to personalizing the experience and engaging us in more meaningful ways.
As the magic of the holidays gets closer and closer, I’ll be watching for the new technologies and tactics employed by retailers to make the customer journey that much better. After all, enjoying the holidays is about making the most of every moment – whether in the company of the brands you love or the family you hold near and dear.