Every year, the holiday shopping season gets a little bigger – and a little more complicated. And not just for shoppers. Retail marketers now have to navigate so many statistics and hot takes, trends and counter-trends, all sorts of competing goals and strategies. Is brick-and-mortar dead? Has mobile really taken over? What’s a marketer to do? So, we decided to whittle things down a bit and identify a few star examples of brands doing it right.
We asked a handful of Sandbox retail experts the following question: Who’s nailing their holiday execution this year, and why?
Here’s what they had to say:
Kelly Bishop, Group Account Director
For this extremely busy, bargain-loving girl, Kohl’s is winning my holiday! The store is segmented into mini kiosks for gifting, some based on persona and some based on price. There is a computer station in store to allow customers to order an item that may not be in stock that day (what a great way to make online purchases as easy as brick-and-mortar purchases), and of course, they’ve partnered with Amazon to allow for Amazon returns to be done at the customer service counter. Their holiday social channels are less about price points and more about beautifully curated images enticing customers to “get the look,” Snapchat filters to earn discounts, and bringing offline to online with Pinterest Pincodes for additional inspiration. All of these time-savers, combined with good deals and appeals to the couponing nature of Kohl’s Cash (their signature reward method), tells me that they are trying to make the holiday shopping experience for customers as easy as possible. And in this shortened shopping season, isn’t a one-stop shopping experience what we’re all looking for?
Neil Cleary, Vice President, Strategic Planning
Retailers this year are focusing on messaging that plays well across platforms. According to Kantar, from October 28 through November 20, retailers spent 21% less on TV ads than they did last year – Home Depot and Wayfair have cut their holiday focused TV spend by more than half and Gap is keeping its holiday advertising away from TV altogether. So who’s doing it well? For me, surprisingly, Dunkin’ comes to mind. Dunkin’ has taken a decidedly low-tech approach and partnered with homesick to create a traditional gift that evokes a sense of nostalgia; limited-edition scented candles – who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked Old Fashioned Donuts? The candles are available at both Dunkin’s newly launched pop-up shop and homesick, and have been promoted via their Instagram and Twitter channels… And it seems they’ve struck a chord because the effort has been covered by dozens of above-the-line and digital outlets.
Ryan McNeil, Director, Engagement Planning
This holiday season the retailer with the best holiday strategy is every retailer who truly understands mobile-first commerce. Thanks to social commerce and retailer apps, consumers did more Black Friday spending on their phones than ever before, with the proportion of U.S. digital sales growing 14% to $7.2 billion, according to Salesforce. Mobile orders increased 35% on Black Friday this year, with 65% of all e-commerce flowing through a mobile device, Salesforce also found. Of the more than $900 million in total sales made by Shopify merchants, 69% of purchases were made on mobile, with the remaining 31% on desktop. Adobe called Black Friday “the biggest day ever for mobile,” tracking $2.9 bilion in sales from smartphones alone, or 39% of all e-commerce sales, a 21% increase from last year. According to Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights, “Even when shoppers went to stores, they were now buying nearly 41% more online before going to the store to pick up.”
So, without naming names, those retailers who haven’t figured out how to engage their shopper through an intuitive mobile shopping experience that seamlessly translates to the physical retail space are not reaping the benefits of the strongest holiday strategy of all.