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3 companies preparing for the holiday season during a pandemic

Jordyn Tetler

For retailers, this upcoming holiday season is like none other. A pandemic and economic shutdown presented several challenges that had retailers hustling to digitize their operation overnight to ensure a safe, convenient, and seamless experience for both their customers and employees.

Since the spring, retailers have needed to drive e-commerce efforts to maintain customer engagement and purchasing. However, it has not been an easy transition to close brick and mortar doors, navigate overwhelmed shipping centers, and remote work, all while delivering a competitive customer experience. Now, retailers are facing their biggest shopping season of the year.

This holiday season, retailers are met with an even bigger undertaking. Not only is this a chance to make up for lost time—drive customer loyalty and grow bottom line—but retailers also need to prepare for shifting consumer shopping and lifestyle habits.

Retailers need to understand who their customers are and what is important to them now, following the pandemic. With the right consumer insights, retailers can effectively prepare for the holiday season.

Let’s see what some companies are doing to prepare for this upcoming, social distant shopping craze.

1. Amazon’s Prime Day kicks off holiday shopping.
It’s no secret holiday shopping begins earlier each year, and it’s no different for this season. However, this year has an Amazon Prime Day within the same quarter.

It’s no secret holiday shopping begins earlier each year, and it’s no different for this season. However, this year has an Amazon Prime Day within the same quarter.

Retail experts predict this year’s Amazon’s Prime Day will drive $17B in sales, says retail experts in a recent webinar. Amazon’s announcement to schedule Prime Day for early October is inspiring other retailers to start their holiday deals soon after. It will not be surprising to see retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target kicking off big-time sales ahead of Halloween.

Extending holiday deals from early October through December means that retailers have the chance to grow revenue and retain customer loyalty after a long, difficult half year. For consumers, an extended holiday shopping season means more time to shop with their favorite brands online and order gifts in time for pre-holiday arrival—in case of any shipping delays. With consumers shopping earlier, this also gives retailers the opportunity to stay ahead of any issues that may arise with overwhelmed distribution centers, ensure a seamless customer journey, and allow for time to restock inventory for last minute holiday shoppers.

2. Kohl’s has new inventory for new lifestyles.
With remote work and learning still an option for many, people are continuing to spend much of their time at home. Can we say sweatpants and messy bun? Kohl’s CEO, Michelle Grass, says she plans to market more “comfy and cozy” apparel ahead of the winter months, according to the ModernRetail article.

A recent survey found that over half of consumers said the crisis was a good opportunity to make lifestyle changes like, cooking at home, gardening, exercising from home, and so on. The key theme: Every activity is done from home.

The pandemic’s stay-at-home orders brought several new consumer lifestyle and shopping habits. Retailers should know what is important to their customers now and how they are purchasing these days. That same survey discovered that 88 percent of consumers plan to continue purchasing gifts online and send them to the recipient.

To answer to the needs of a new customer base, think about the current inventory, what should be improved or eliminated, and make sure the shelves are stocked before October.

3. Walmart gives employees Thanksgiving off.
As retailers tackle this upcoming shopping season, it’s important to remember the people behind the scenes. With the market predicting a surge in e-commerce sales, major retailers, like Walmart, are giving associates Thanksgiving off to thank their employees for their hard work, says a recent Forbes’ article.

Technology is made to make life easier. So, if the market is predicting a spike in online sales for holiday shopping—the latest Digital Commerce 360 analysis of U.S Department of Commerce data says online spending represented 18.6 percent of total retail sales for the first two quarters of 2020—then this could give retailers the chance to close brick and mortar locations for a national holiday.

Taking care of employees is part of ensuring success during this holiday rush. Rewarding associates with a day off could be the secret sauce for sustaining operational efficiency and deliverance of an incomparable customer experience.

These major retailers have customer experience and operational efficiency top of mind. That’s why they are extending the timeline for holiday deals, pivoting product lines to hit the needs of new consumer habits, and even giving associates Thanksgiving off.

Now, as a retailer, how can you determine what the best approach is to prepare for this unusual holiday season? The answer lies within your data.

Our latest research reports 87 percent say data insight is essential to managing operational efficiency and customer experience in a digital environment.

Capturing high-quality data through customer engagement and transactions will help you navigate your new customer base and ensure exceptional delivery from operations to customer experience, even online.

Start with data enrichment. Data enrichment will append attributes from financial data to buyer propensity, so you are equipped with in-depth knowledge of who your best customers are and what motivates them to remain loyal to your brand.

Next up, validate customer contact data. Accurate customer addresses, emails, and phone numbers will help you precisely reach your customers from holiday messages to order confirmations to package delivery.

Furthermore, analyze these data insights to inform decisions like:

• Timing of your holiday deals with Amazon’s Prime Day.
• Promoting sales through the most popular channels, like email.
• Determining new and existing inventory, like sprucing up holiday pajamas.
• Providing curbside pickup for brick and mortar locations.
• Driving online shopping for customers.

Retailers, get ready to tackle and succeed this holiday season. High-quality data will help you operate efficiently, even when remote, all while delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Stay ahead of the competition by supporting your holiday readiness plan with quality consumer insights.

Talk with an expert today