Capitalize on Holiday Momentum to Thrive in an Uncertain 2019

January 18, 2019

Early reports indicate the holiday season has been a blockbuster. After a successful start to the season with strong gains during Cyber Week, new data from Mastercard shows consumer spending rose 5.1% during the season overall from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, while eCommerce jumped a whopping 19.1%.

At the same time, the stock market’s recent wild ride, upcoming tariffs, and the ongoing government shutdown all spell uncertainty for merchants in 2019. Potential volatility later in the year provides ample motivation for merchants to redouble efforts in January to build on holiday gains. Among the strategies to consider:

Appeal to Gift Card Recipients

Some 60% of consumers predicted they’d request gift cards this season, according to the National Retail Federation, and in January merchants should help them find relevant items — and encourage continued engagement beyond redemption.  Themed categories on the eCommerce site, store displays organized by price tier, and social content spotlighting fun finds can all direct shoppers to items that match their gift-card balances. Putting email or loyalty club signups, social media channels, and in-store events front and center encourage those new to the brand to return throughout the year.

Optimize Inventory With Store-to-Store Networks

As returns come in and stores assess which new inventory remains unsold after the holiday rush, merchants should redistribute goods according to regional demand using store-to-store fulfillment. With more than half of returned merchandise going back on store shelves, according to Supply Chain Management Review, optimizing placement with company-wide inventory visibility and order management can help merchants avoid clearance discounting — and improve planning for the next peak season.

Reconnect With Existing Loyalists, and Listen

More than half of merchants reported an increase in the cost of wooing new customers this year, according to Forrester — so more than ever, retention makes business sense. After the holidays, merchants often set their sights on winning repeat business from first-time gift buyers, but they should also take the time to reconnect with existing loyal customers. Sellers can end the holiday season on a high note with exclusive promotions or thank-you offers, while surveying loyal customers about their holiday experiences and future preferences can help root out any gaps in service or product offerings. Addressing any unmet needs early in the year demonstrates merchants are willing to go the extra mile for their most valuable brand advocates.