As consumers stroll calmly into November, retailers are officially hitting the Christmas period. They're reaching the last leg of an 11-month long process that has involved passion, hope and money (on top of the blood, sweat and tears) to get themselves fighting fit. However in the pursuit of winning the battle of the the best Christmas advertising campaign: penguins, Mog, man/moon etc, many retailers forget the actual customer experience. Gregor Jackson of gpstudio considers the simple mistakes that retailers inadvertently make that can floor their brand in the festive period. Here are five hurdles to avoid being tripped up by in the sprint to the finish line.
Getting outpaced by a simple idea
Sainsbury's take-over of Home Retail Group has been in the works for months, but the supermarket has managed to make a nifty move since the acquisition of the Argos brand as part of the deal, and right before Christmas. It's expanding its Argos concessions in store from 10 to 30, which means it will be easier for people to order and pick up Argos items with their food shops. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest differences to consumers choosing between retail competitors, even if it is only in 30 locations.
Not having your delivery platform in shape
Amazon is the most obvious example here, because the brand has its distribution model locked down and it continually invests in new ways to be the best in the market at delivering purchases to consumers with the speed and ease beyond what people can realistically ask for. It's launched plans for delivering with drones. It's launched Amazon Dash, so consumers literally just press a button to get a refill on their essential items. It's following an Uber-type taxi service to get freelance drivers to make deliveries and now Prime members are getting new restaurant delivery service that lets people order food from their favourite kitchens, much like Deliveroo and UberEATS customers have. Are any of these myriad delivery solutions going to outpace yours? Don't get left behind by a bad delivery model that makes consumers look elsewhere for better options when it comes to last-minute Christmas presents.
Losing market share to retailers that don't deserve your customers
Last Christmas, Lidl was the retailer that grew the fastest, with sales up by 18.5% in the 12 weeks to 3 January this year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. This is a German discount retailer that appealed to poorer consumers when it first started to become known in the UK, understandably due to its cheap prices. But over the years it has grown in popularity with middle class consumers who would never have seen themselves shopping in such a discount-heavy retailer five years ago. Simply put, the battle against discounters has not yet been won, and rival retailers need to make sure they don't lose market share to the likes of Aldi and Lidl at the 11th hour after spending 11 months investing in their consumers for this Christmas period.
Having a nightmare in-store experience
Making your Christmas in-store experience clean and tidy for consumers is simplest rule of all and the easiest to get wrong. We all know what it's like to go shopping during the festive period, trying to get through the crowds and about your business as quickly and efficiently as possible, or with an easy browsing experience that doesn't make you feel like you've been to war. Just make sure there's enough staff to help consumers and tidy up rails and shelves, enough stock to replenish the shop floor and that staff are properly appreciated by their managers so it gets positively reflected in their manner with consumers in-store.
Thinking its all over by the 25th
We all know that Christmas shopping doesn't finish on Christmas Eve, but last year people in the UK spent £728 million online on the 25th December. Overall sales were up by 21%. That's the most that's been spent in this country online on Christmas Day ever, with people making the most of retailers starting their sales a day earlier than the traditional Boxing Day bonanza. And these purchases are increasingly being made through mobile. Make sure your business is prepped accordingly.
Gregor Jackson is a Founding Partner of design consultancy gpstudio and brand strategy agency bbgp. He has worked in the 'brand world' for 25 years both nationally and internationally, creating, shaping, engaging, and evolving how brands are projected and perceived.