While many industries slow down over the holiday period, retailers are immersed in the busiest quarter of the year sparked by key events including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day sales. It is a period which not only brings strong revenue potential, but also the opportunity to grow your customer base.

After two years of uncertainty, leveraging these big shopping moments and prioritising customer retention has never been more crucial than it was this year. Especially because recent research revealed that this holiday season Aussies were set to spend at least the same or even more than they did last Christmas, despite economic pressures. 

Regardless of how holiday shopping season spending impacted retailers, it is important for them to consider how they can retain both new and existing customers beyond a busy sales period and boost long-term customer loyalty. As the last holiday returns and exchanges wrap-up this month, what strategies can retailers deploy to convert seasonal shoppers to brand loyal customers in 2023?

Personalisation is key

Personalising individual experiences is an essential ingredient to retaining customers and should be a priority for all retailers regardless of the time of year. According to McKinsey’s Next in Personalisation 2021 Report, over three-quarters of consumers (76%) said that receiving personalised communications was a key factor in prompting their consideration of a brand, and 78% said such content made them more likely to repurchase.

Because of this, brands implemented quick fixes to incorporate personalisation. But these simple acts, such as personalising emails, greeting customers by their first name or offering targeted products and services based on their interest, have been widely adopted across the industry. Because generic personalisation is no longer a differentiating factor, retailers must now provide exceptional personalisation to elevate the customer experience.

With cookies set to be phased out in 2024, marketers will soon have to rely on first-party data and historical customer interactions to create the hyper-personalised content and product recommendations shoppers have come to expect. One solution is to replace cookies with real-time segmentation. This allows marketers to create actionable insights from existing customer data and segment customers in the moment of engagement to deliver highly relevant, personalised digital experiences.

By understanding the customers on a truly 1:1 level, brands will better capture what’s preventing customers from completing a purchase as well as what communications inspire them to browse and checkout. As economic uncertainty continues to impact buying behaviour, taking the right approach to personalisation will significantly impact customer loyalty and purchasing outcomes in the new year.

Unlocking the power of omnichannel

Wherever customers go, and however they interact with you, they expect a consistent and seamless experience. Of course, how people engage with retailers has changed dramatically in the past couple of years, with consumers today interacting with retailers through multiple digital channels. Customers today are likely to buy 250% more frequently if they interact with three or more different channels. This requires both quality content and functionality across all platforms.

A comprehensive content strategy focuses on attracting and engaging target audiences. But it’s more than just perfectly-timed blogs and trend-following social posts. Getting the content strategy right requires that marketers have a solution to manage the content cycle all in one place so they can easily collaborate to plan, create, publish and deliver exceptional digital experiences. By removing friction points and speeding up time-to-market, marketers can more easily produce content that addresses customers wants, needs and concerns.

Besides content, unlocking the power of omnichannel also includes the tangible shopping experience across the brands’ websites and mobile apps, which requires seamless digital experiences from first visit to check out. Customers no longer tolerate confusing navigation and poor search capabilities nor website and app malfunctions. If brands cannot step up to customers’ expectations and provide a seamless and uniform experience across channels, shoppers will go elsewhere. Because of that, pain points must be addressed and regularly monitored to improve the omnichannel shopping experience. This brings us to our final strategy.

Embrace experimentation

To ensure long-term customer retention, retailers should not be afraid to experiment. There are no failures when experimenting, only learnings. By embracing a ‘test-and-learn’ culture and understanding that experimentation is a key component to innovate in an ever-changing landscape, retailers can learn more about their customers’ behaviours and identify areas for growth in 2023.

Currently, about 75% of the top 500 online retailers use A/B testing platforms. They understand that testing and optimising all aspects of a brand’s website and mobile app experiences ensures that the customer experience is easy and intuitive and that pain points are reduced. From there, the brands can make improvements to enhance the digital experience, capitalise on stronger calls to action and secure a higher ROI through existing traffic. While there isn’t a one-size-fit-all handbook, using experimentation as a guiding force will allow brands to make better-informed decisions and increase positive touchpoints to drive more sales.

While the holidays may have provided retailers with a positive boost to cap off the year, that bump won’t last forever. A well-developed strategy is necessary to build and maintain momentum all year long. The brands that provide a personalised digital experience across multiple channels and regularly experiment will increase customer retention and loyalty, and ultimately, stay ahead of the competition in 2023.

Christopher Koutis is director of customer success for Asia Pacific & Japan at Optimizely.