How retailers can kick their digital presence up a notch this holiday shopping season


Source: Unsplash/Kira auf der Heide.

E-commerce is a highly competitive environment, and more so now than ever before.

Data from Deloitte says we can expect e-commerce sales between November and January to balloon by between 25% and 35% this year, compared to a 14.7% increase in online holiday sales last year.

All the more reason to ensure your digital strategy is ready to rock and roll this festive season.

From Christmas-specific campaign tips to understanding the customer journey and engaging last year’s shoppers, here’s how brands can make the most of 2020’s holiday shopping season.

Get into the holiday spirit early 

Big advertisers have already started customising their in-market communications for the holiday season, announcing sales events or upcoming offers. If you haven’t, don’t panic, not all brands roll those out early. 

While it’s best to have a plan in place, you still have time to implement a great digital advertising campaign if you move quickly. 

Christmas-specific campaign and day-to-day activity: What’s the difference?

In order to capture market share during the festive season, you’ll very likely need to increase your budget for digital. As consumers start to spend more, the environment becomes incredibly competitive. 

Most Christmas-specific campaigns entail creating new search queries around the festive season, something that might not have been relevant to a digital strategy a couple of months ago. 

When it comes to search terms, stick to your current strategy – it will still be relevant throughout the season – but also look to add to it rather than take away. This will improve the visibility of your business in searches. 

Understand the customer journey

Since a large number of consumers will be shopping online this holiday season, understanding your customer’s journey is incredibly important. 

Reaching people with targeted, digital advertising at times of key decision making and conversion is powerful, and doing so can lead to someone making a purchase.

Inserting your brand or product at these touchpoints can be highly effective at driving return on investment.

In addition to this, understanding triggers that start the journey (this could be based on time or location) will enable you to connect at these important periods. 

Keep them close

This may seem like an odd tip, but think of your customers as family and friends.

After all, throughout a challenging year, they’ve helped you put food on your table.

Reward them by offering discount codes and special offers.

It’s good business throughout the year, but can pay off especially well – for both you and your customers – during the holiday season.

Given the competitive nature of the retail scene, this can allow your business to stay top-of-mind and offer customers even better value.

Engage last year’s customers

The Pareto Principle says 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. That means it’s easier to drive repeat purchases than new purchases.

Last year’s customer knows they have an affinity or a prior relationship with your brand. Exploit that knowledge.

Previous customers already understand your product or service, and have had some form of interaction with your brand already. They likely have an opinion and believe what you offer can satisfy their needs. 

The success of remarketing, however, will depend on the effectiveness of the communication channels you use.

Consider both the content of your message and target audience before choosing any one channel.

Click-and-collect: A game-changer?

Click-and-collect can be described as a blessing in disguise. There are no lines to wait in and minimal parking issues.

From a business’s point of view, having a plan in place to manage customer expectations and keep the experience seamless is critical. 

While most businesses already have a plan in place, it’s not too late to ensure you have a system in place for when someone arrives to collect their order.

For example, you can email a customer to let them know their order is ready to collect, and perhaps communicate there could be a small wait time depending on the number of people allowed in-store. 

Make sure you establish when a customer is going to pay for an order: when they’ve completed the order online or when they collect it? 

Click-and-collect allows customers to have an easier and less stressful holiday period, and that’s something most people are after.

It’s all in the details

Research from Google has found 40% of customers will purchase more goods from retailers who personalise the shopping experience across channels.

With so much competition out there, a brand that can create a connection with a customer will be better off for it. It is a critical step to ensure they engage in your campaign.

Plus, utilising your customer behavioural and demographic data and incorporating it into the campaigns you are running can give you a leg-up. 

Consumers don’t like to miss out 

The festive season only lasts for a limited time, which is great for businesses willing to create a sense of urgency.

FOMO is a powerful motivator that can make an audience act on your offer and achieve the conversion you’re looking for.

Brands will often place quantity or time limits on offers, which pushes a consumer to act faster than they normally would. 

Extra quick tips

Here are some extra quick tips retailers might find useful as we head into the chaos that is Christmas.

  1. Don’t neglect search. There’s going to be a lot of people searching for specific items up until Christmas, and even after. Update your terms to capitalise on that.
  2. Customise your comms. Generic messaging won’t get you anywhere. Tweak and adapt your messaging to suit the festive season.
  3. Focus on measurements and track your activity. Collecting, aggregating and calculating your data and activity will provide insight into what has worked for your business and what hasn’t. You’ll then be able to take those learnings and apply them, or change them, for the next holiday season.


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