Why Understanding Last Year’s Holiday Shopping Season Is Essential for the Year Ahead
Last year’s holiday shopping season is officially over and in the books. Like most retailers, you’re now firmly focused on the year ahead, as you should be. But remember—a big part of how well you perform this year depends on how well you apply the lessons learned from last year.
And that means the job of preparing for this year’s holiday season has already begun. By taking a close look at how well you performed last year, you can not only position yourself to do even better during the big-ticket shopping events to come, but throughout the entire calendar year.
Each year, the 12 months of the retail calendar year become more of a single, organic, constantly fluctuating sales cycle. What may seem like a series of unconnected promotional opportunities is in reality a single continuum of consumer events.
Successful retailers understand this, carefully structuring their approach to each phase of the cycle in a way that leads into the next promotion, whether they’re directly related or not. By doing so, they’re not only maximizing consumer interest in their brand 365 days a year, but continuously adding new customers and selling opportunities even during periods of relative inactivity.
And it all begins with optimizing that most important segment of the yearly sales cycle, the holiday shopping season.
Crunching the Numbers from Last Year’s Holiday Shopping Season: 3 Questions to Ask
The best way to begin preparing for the next holiday shopping season is learning as much as you can from the one that’s just wrapped up. And that involves separating out the aspects that went as well as planned, better than planned, and not quite as well as you’d hoped, and then taking specific action for each data set.
1. What went as well as planned? Some aspects of your holiday sales efforts probably went about as well as you’d hoped they would. Congratulations. You’ve met some important goals—no small accomplishment in a competitive retail shopping season.
But sweet as it is, hitting those goals is only half the prize. In addition to the revenue and customer loyalty you’ve earned, you also now have some important data for the future. To get a better handle on this information, begin by asking yourself (and your team) these questions:
- Is there anything we can do to make this perform even better during the next sales cycle, such as can we reach more people in the same demographic, extend our offering or expand the discount in some way?
- Can we apply this strategy to other products or services in the next sales cycle and expect similar success, or was this specific to a certain product, service or year?
- Is it in our best interest to try to repeat this, or might there be a shelf life or limit of interest to this offering that would make it better to phase it out in favor of a newer version?
Action item: If you decide that some aspects have to be tweaked based on your answers to the questions above, now is the time to start working out that strategy.
2. What went better than planned? If you’re lucky—or if you have an exceptional sales or marketing team—some parts of last year’s holiday shopping season may have performed even better than you expected. This is great news, because it shows that you may have generated more sales than expected, and, even better, you have untapped markets at your fingertips.
You struck gold, and it’s time to stake your claim. There’s even more interest in your product, service or promo than you anticipated, and that’s not data you can afford to ignore. To make sure you follow up on this lead and reach all of these prospects in the future, break down your promotion into three factors:
- The who. Did you do better with new customers or with long-standing brand advocates? Did city dwellers engage more, or did suburbanites, or maybe people living in rural areas? Did age or income level have anything to do with likelihood to purchase? The better you can break down this data, the better positioned you’ll be to perfect your marketing message in the future.
- The where. Where did this unexpected windfall come from, exactly? Did an exclusive offer on your Twitter or Instagram feed generate higher interest than you expected? Did a banner ad or email promo convert better than usual? It’s important to use all of the analytical tools at your disposal to trace these sales to their source, so you can duplicate and even increase the success
- The why. Now that you know the who and the where, it’s easier to figure out the why. Maybe suburban customers respond better to email? Perhaps younger people are more likely to click through on Instagram? Whatever you learn here will be a huge bonus in communicating to prospects and customers in the future—and not just during sales seasons, but all year ‘round.
Action Item: If you’re missing the analytical tools to trace your sales success back to the who, where and why, it’s time to set it up.
3. What went worse than planned? Okay, fun part’s over. It’s time for the hard questions. Some parts of last year’s holiday shopping season will have inevitably underperformed a bit compared to expectations. It’s important to determine why this is, and what can be done to avoid it in the future.
Ask your team: How did we fail to connect with the people we were trying to reach? Was it the wrong type of person for this promo, the wrong media or the wrong message? Were we presenting things in a way that didn’t appeal, or that didn’t cut through the clutter on the media we were using to communicate it, such as email, social media or outbound sales?
Action Item: Consulting the analytical data generated from your holiday shopping season should give you the info you need to answer these questions. If not, it’s time to integrate a more robust data analytics program into your communications strategy.
We Can Help You Meet Your Holiday Shopping Season Goals
In this era of micro-targeting, all of the above information should not only be within your grasp, but already integrated into your sales and customer service delivery. Studies have shown that offering the best care means understanding your customers as much as possible—and that people actually want you to and will readily share the personal data that helps you give them better purchasing options.
So if you’re falling short of really getting to know your customers, it’s time to put in place a customer experience (CX) that takes full advantage of all the tools that modern marketing offers. In today’s competitive marketplace, you really can’t afford not to—and we can help you get the job done.
With more than 20 years of experience assisting a wide variety of businesses implement superior customer care solutions, Working Solutions is the smart choice for integrating the analytical processes you need to understand your customers and how to connect with them.
Contact us today to learn more—before the next major retail sales event passes you by.Let's connect.