With the calendar having turned to October, the holiday retail season is in full swing. Leaves may have yet to turn, but major retailers bracing for a more difficult season than last year due to inflation and rising interest rates are pulling out all the stops to reach customers who need to spread out their holiday budget.
Target and Walmart are among major retailers who have started or will start holiday programs the first week of the month in anticipation of a “subdued” holiday season. While last year’s holiday season started earlier due to fear of supply chain disruptions (and an easing of pandemic restrictions), this year’s early start is expected because consumers are wary of rising prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly consumer price index showed an overall 8.3 percent increase in prices in August, down from June and July but still higher than analysts expected.
Target and Walmart are starting the holiday season on a small scale, with “deal days” events and curbside gift returns, respectively, but just the announcement itself is expected to have smaller retailers quickly follow suit.
Eliminate Customer Journey Friction
With consumers exercising care in discretionary spending over a longer holiday season, retailers are compelled to remove friction from the customer journey to capture whatever spend they can. Retailers who are already pressured to deliver a personalized, omnichannel customer experience, will now be facing additional demands for a consistent and seamless experience.
Consider, first, how important a personalized experience is to the average consumer. In a recent Dynata retail survey, the overwhelming majority of consumers (80 percent) said they are more likely to shop with brands that show they understand their needs by sending relevant, personalized offers during the holiday season. And 78 percent of consumers said that it is frustrating when a retailer’s communications and marketing messages are inconsistent depending on the channel they visit (in-store, online, social, mobile app, call center, etc.).
Friction, in other words, is borne of inconsistency and irrelevance. Take “blast emails” as one example of what, in most cases, is sent without any contextual understanding of a customer journey. Yet with more than 300 million emails sent and received every day in 2020, it is clearly still a favorite marketing technique even if the vast majority of marketing emails are not in the cadence of the customer journey.
While receiving an irrelevant email may not have introduced friction during earlier economic downturns, such as the great recession of ’08, the rising demand for consistency across channels and for brands to know and honor consumers’ preferences reduce its effectiveness. In today’s experience economy, consumers regularly move between digital and physical channels. Understanding a consumer’s needs translates to a personalized, omnichannel CX that is consistently in the cadence of a journey, which often means a real-time, next-best action the moment a customer appears in a certain channel.
A Profitable Golden Record
The ability to remain consistent and hyper-relevant for an individual customer while still being able to quickly adapt to changing consumer circumstances on a macro level is why data-driven brands prioritize identity resolution using a brand’s own first-party data as a cornerstone of a personalized customer experience.
A recent blog covered why continual identity resolution using first-party data is a key revenue driver. One example cited – using real-time open email – is certainly applicable for retailers trying to compete on experience during the holiday shopping season. If, for example, a customer buys a product at full price that later goes on sale, a real-time open email might switch up content to offer the customer a coupon equal to the price differential.
Advanced identity resolution that produces an accurate, updated Golden Record allows the brand to achieve this hyper-relevant consistency even if the customer has multiple identifiers and completes a transaction using multiple channels.
Instead of a static email that may introduce friction into the customer journey, identity resolution helps the brand deliver a contextually engaging, dynamic customer journey with precision throughout.
This holiday season, it pays to recognize that customers worried about higher prices may be even less tolerant of friction in a customer journey than usual. For more on why leading brands trust rgOne to leverage a single, comprehensive customer view for cross-channel engagement in real time, click here.