The holiday season will be right around the corner before we know it. It might not be top-of-mind right now, but honestly, there is no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to getting ready for the holiday shopping season. Now is the time for companies to start planning for the 2021 holidays to make sure they fully capitalise on the busy shopping season.

The pandemic has brought in some significant changes to the way Australians shop. There has been a considerable shift in consumer shopping behaviour. Increased online purchases, inclination towards mindful shopping, drawing inspiration from social media trends, preferred next-day or fastest deliveries, are just some of the trends that are becoming increasingly important.

With shifting consumer preferences and evolving online habits, retailers must craft a solid holiday marketing strategy, unlike any other witnessed in the past. Here are a few key data points to help marketers shape their upcoming holiday strategies.

Effective communication across channels

Holiday season shoppers mostly use multiple channels –search engines, social media, and video, to search for products or brands before purchasing. The key to driving sales during the holiday season is omnipresent, targeting, and successfully communicating to customers across channels – social media ads, emails, push notifications, Facebook messenger, or SMS. With almost 39 percent of consumers browsing for holiday shopping on social media, there are numerous opportunities for brand awareness this holiday season.[1]

According to Salesforce Consumer Research from May 2020, 85 percent of consumers find operational update messages appropriate during the pandemic.[2] Consumers value end-to-end messages such as order status, shipping updates, delivery and pickup instructions to ensure safety and convenience over the holiday season. Therefore, marketers need to build creative social campaigns, create consistent messaging throughout the platforms and focus on effective customer communication. Brands that still prioritise traditional ways to connect with consumers, the chances are high that they mostly miss out on potential sales.

Importance of Live Chat

With lockdown measures changing every other month, access to customer service will increase significantly during the holiday period. According to The Reinvention of the Retail Experience joint report from Salesforce and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), 83% of consumers expect to engage with a customer service representative while engaging with a brand.[3] As consumers continue shopping online, retailers should be prepared to handle large consumer queries via their websites.

Installing live chat on the website will help speed up the redressal process by automating answers to repetitive queries and allowing the chat agents to spend more time on complex issues. Email campaigns with a live chat platform are undoubtedly efficient and enable brands to create personalised and consistent customer interaction. Live chat is the need of the hour and is the closest in-store experience a consumer can get!

Appetite for promotions

Brands that initiated marketing and promotions during COVID-19 saw a 70 percent increase in sales.[4] Expect this trend to rise. With many consumers still feeling the financial pinch, deals and offers will be the primary sales driver. With overall sentiment low, personalising recommendations will take precedence. Reports show that personalisation is critical for customer engagement, with more than half of Australians expecting personalised offers.[5]

This holiday season, retailers need to be flexible and target customers with relevant product offers to be successful. Offering discounts is one way to make products attractive. However, promotions do not always translate to a purchase. Hence, brands can either decide to go on sale or offer consumers a no-discount promotion by maintaining a delicate balance between holiday cheer and exclusive offers. Some of the non-discount promotional ideas are:

  • Offer special seasonal services like gift-wrapping and free shipping
  • Offer exclusive VIP products to regular customers prompting them to earn exclusive rewards or points with each purchase
  • Add urgency with limited time offers by the hour or days
  • Holiday campaigns focused on user-generated content

A smooth return policy is vital

Online shopping will bring traditional shipping providers to total capacity this holiday season. While it’s essential to plan ahead of packaging and shipping to ensure timely delivery, it is equally crucial to emphasize the return policy. On average, shoppers return 15 to 30 percent of online purchases during the holiday season.[6] The returns are most likely to increase this year as consumers are already anticipating delays in shipping and may want to order alternative gifts in time.

Many retailers consider shipping returns as a loss. However, a smooth return policy can be a tool for customer acquisition and brand loyalty. With almost 38 percent of consumers ready to refer brands to friends and family, brands can emerge winners by offering a seamless customer experience throughout the journey.[7] Sending customers a feedback email regarding the return process and re-engaging them by offering promotions for their next order can build brand advocates.

To capitalise on the holiday season to make up for the lost sales, retailers should start RIGHT NOW. Integrating a solid marketing strategy will help retailers maximise sales and ensure that their customers’ loyalty will endure even post-holiday season.

Aarushi Sawhney is marketing coordinator at dotdigital.

[1] 11 retail holiday marketing and loyalty stats you should know for 2020 [infographic] – LoyaltyLion





[6] Online returns this holiday season to hit a record $41.6 billion (