Multichannel E-commerce Strategies for a Changing Holiday Season

The idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a one-off blitz day has shifted  this year, as large retailers advertised Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals across the entire month of November. As a result, it has become less about cramming a one-off, single-day deal into an already crowded inbox, and more about building a longer-term strategy and relationship with customers throughout the entire holiday season, surfacing the right e-commerce opportunities at the right times using targeting online engagement channels. 

This is also a unique year in the way that the coronavirus is impacting inventory across the board. Due to manufacturing stoppages and delays, there will be shortages of much more than the annual high-demand toys. So strategically being able to understand customer interests and themes as well as tactically communicating alternatives or updates (by sending real-time, back in stock notifications, for example) will be key to convert buyer interest into purchases. 

COVID-19 has been a catalyst for a massive shift to online shopping this holiday season.

There was a 45% YoY jump in Q2 for online sales and we should expect to see similar increases in Q3 and Q4 as consumers are both more comfortable buying online and forced to due to physical store restrictions in many parts of the country.  

Source: US Census Bureau

Amazon Prime Day in October also led to a rush of competitors offering early Black Friday deals this year, creating a longer buying window beyond just a heavy shopping weekend.  

More than 25% of all retail sales will occur online by 2024 and Forrester predicts total retail sales will fall 2.5% this year. 

Source: Forrester

Taking a data-driven mindset is critical for all marketers looking to cut through the noise during busy seasons. With small businesses competing with large retailers for customer attention and sales, stores must rely on technology and personalization to think outside the proverbial box to stand out from the crowd. 

Multichannel Marketing is Crucial to Customer Engagement

Multichannel Marketing is having a consistent presence for you consumers across many channels, such as web, mobile, social and messaging. The biggest benefit is your buyer (consumer or visitor) can interact with your brand via their choice of a variety of channels, and can have a consistent, seamless experience with your brand regardless of their preferred channels. Multichannel marketing is essential in the increasingly fragmented consumption habits of today’s consumer, who have come to expect personalized, targeted marketing.  

Businesses that are best positioned are those open to evolving to the changing environment, particularly this year given the pandemic. The businesses that embrace web, mobile, and social and take advantage of a variety of messaging channels like email, push, and sms will ensure they’re present in each place a prospective buyer wants to engage.  

Multichannel isn’t just a campaign, it is a core strategy. The first step is to understand where your current consumers are engaging, and then prioritize developing a consistent experience for every visitor across each of those channels. Start with a responsive website, assuming that’s updated for accessibility across PC, Mobile and Tablet browser visitors. Then complement the primary engagement channels with similar experiences on social media destinations and all your messaging channels. This should be inclusive of SMS, push and email, and work to personalize by each consumer’s preference.  

As an example of multichannel marketing that works, we can take a look at WarbyParker: they have a more digitally savvy target consumer, they’ve built a physical and digital cohesive consumer experience. They use push notifications to engage active consumers, SMS for appointments and to re-engage users who have opted out of other channels, and use email for transactional messaging like receipts. They even use physical direct mail to highlight new styles. Each consumer touchpoint is a consistent message of their offering, with the channel carefully tailored to the purpose of the messaging.

Multichannel Marketing Best Practices

Here’re some best practices effectively reach your users and increase holiday buyers using an multichannel communication strategy: 

There’s no doubt this is a stranger year for eCommerce, but by adapting and adhering to best practices and the right messaging and touchpoints with your customers, brands can still drive revenue successfully to stand out from the crowd. 

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