3 Ways Retailers Are Using Data To Get Ahead Of The Holiday Season

Black Friday, Back to School and CyberMonday.

Consumers love these shopping holidays — and data-driven retailers love them even more. From fist fights breaking out at Wal-Mart to overnight camping in front of malls, the lengths people are willing to go for a great deal is evident.

So in order to mitigate sale-day stress, shoppers have started their deal sleuthing much earlier — and much of it online.

According to National Research Federation, researchers have found that that back-to-school shopping has started well in advance of the first day. Nearly 22.5% of adult US internet users shopping for kids ages 6 to 17 started two or more months before school started.

The same goes for those holiday wishlists. According to a 2014 Pew Research Survey, holiday sales made up 18.14% of total sales for all of 2013 for retailers. The ghosts and goblins are quickly losing the spotlight to retailers ramping up for the heavy revenue-generating Black Friday and post-holiday sales.

While spending is heaviest during the holiday season, brick-and-mortar stores are seeing the percentage of in-store sales go down year-over-year during the holidays. Consumers are slowly responding by having “blowout” online sales earlier in the year to stay competitive. Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart are holding “Christmas in July” sales to compete with etailers like Amazon who are promising better-than-Black-Friday deals on their recently established Prime Day.

So what can retailers do to prepare for the early onset of holiday madness?  

Run Intelligent Ad Campaigns Early

Data-driven retailers can take this opportunity to understand their customers purchase intent and start using segmentation to promote their product or brand well in advance of the holidays. For example, if you’re a backpack company and wanted to target people who have young kids, have an affinity towards Target and like discounts, you can start running ads to this group well in advance of the Back-to-School sale season. This way when sale time rolls around your brand has already received plenty of exposure and won’t be fighting for last-minute visibility in the fall.

Personalize Holiday Offers

Retailers have enormous amount of customer data — transactional, beacon, social, email and more — but the tricky part for the holidays is that the buyer is shopping for someone else. Retailers can customize their data by paying close attention to purchases made in November or December from years prior, so that they can better understand what types of holiday purchases their customers make based on that information. If you know that your customer typically buys make-up year-round, but decides to buy hiking boots in November every year, you can personalize the offers for this customer based on this pattern.

Leverage Lifetime Value

Customers with a high lifetime value are excellent targets for the holiday season. If you know that they are already loyal to your store, why not offer them a few incentives around the holiday season? If I have a segment of customers that spends $300 at my store every time there is a Back-to-School sale, I want to give that group a much higher priority than those who only spend $100 during the same time period. You can spend more on targeted ads or do an email campaign to this particular group offering a holiday coupon or a special gift with the purchase of an item. Prioritizing customers with a high lifetime value will help optimize sales during the holiday season.

While the holiday season may seem far off, there are several strategies that retailers can implement today to ensure that their customers have the merriest season yet.