By Chris Haines, Director of Consulting at Amplience
As December 25th draws near, the retail world is reaching a fever pitch. Retailers stock huge amounts of seasonal produce and products in the build-up to the big event. After all, there is only so much room on Santa’s sleigh, and with consumer spending squeezed this year, many retailers are concerned toys will be left in the workshop (or warehouse). Yet Christmas miracles do happen – Brits are expected to spend £50 billion on the festive season this year, and with the right approach to customer experience retailers can still find themselves on the ‘nice’ list.
Telling the Christmas story
Connecting with your audience is what will help retailers sell not only products but their brand. Most of the country’s major retailers have released their annual Christmas adverts. One of the most hotly anticipated creative moments of the UK retail calendar is the debut of the John Lewis Christmas advert. This year’s #EltonJohnLewis campaign certainly struck a chord with audiences, but it is pertinent to note that the company launched its campaign across all channels. Its Oxford Street store offered customers a chance to step inside the ad with guided tours, its website has assets spread across the platform, promoting the themes of the ad and, clearly, it has been a social media phenomenon. This omni-channel approach ensured that on social media the ad secured 372,411 interactions on Facebook in just four days from launch and 101,448 interactions on YouTube during the same period, according to Socialbakers data. While not all brands have the budgets of John Lewis, brand storytelling is a technique all brands should be using to connect with their audience.
Winning hearts (and clicks)
Telling the brand’s story through engaging rich media and content-driven experiences will ensure brands are remembered by customers when they are making their last-minute purchases. Providing customers with a seamless experience populated with rich engaging content is the catalyst for turning browsers into buyers. Retailers can ‘win’ with the most beloved Christmas ad, but if their online experience doesn’t measure up, customers will shop elsewhere. High-quality content that carries a consistent message across all channels is mission critical in retail. It is no longer enough to launch a sparkling Christmas ad if the message does not translate across all other platforms. A consistent, narrative-driven array of excellent, consistent and customisable content will make consumers understand your brand and encourage loyalty. Content such as product previews, 360° views, interactive AR and VR experiences and immersive instore experience are now what customers expect.
Taking the agile approach
Retailer’s must also spare a thought to often overlooked (but increasingly essential) channels such as mobile and voice. Customers will be time-poor this Christmas, and both channels offer an often faster, more convenient service. It is crucial that retailers ensure the online experience is optimised no matter what device the shopper is using. Brands need to think about how the modern consumer shops and adjust their content strategies to address this. But this new ‘always on’ approach to retailing can put a massive burden on creative and marketing teams. Manual processes for formatting images and personalising can no longer cut it in the fast-paced omnichannel ecommerce sector. Moving to a lean, optimised content production process will help retailers stay agile and deliver the immense amount of content modern customers expect this Christmas time. A powerful content management platform will also enable retailers to take advantage of micro trends, allowing them to quickly create content to promote similar products. Trends come and go quickly in fashion, entertainment, food and drinks, especially around Christmas! You do not want to be the retailer that has the product but misses Santa’s sleigh. By having the right tools in place, quick conversion can be made.
Ringing in the New Year
The best gift retailers can give their customers this year is a seamless customer experience, that takes the confusion and stress out of Christmas shopping. Bringing velocity and agility into the content strategy could make all the difference for customers craving rich experiences, as well as hard-working content teams. For ecommerce businesses hoping to weather the January price wars, a focus on timely content offers a way to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the run up to Christmas.