With Black Friday now behind us, the holiday shopping season is in full throttle as families rush to get gifts in time for the holidays. Given how unpredictable inventory management and supply chains have been in recent months, consumers have been advised to shop early in order to get their preferred gifts in time. This uncertainty means every retailer’s discounting strategy is going to be more of a crapshoot than typical years.
That said, no matter what retail vertical you’re operating in, odds are your holiday discounting plans are already set as well as they can be expected to be. For retailers looking to get ahead of the curve, however, building out an email and promotions strategy that extends beyond the holidays can help boost revenue at a time of year that typically yields very little.
By factoring email touchpoints surrounding returns into discount messaging and empowering client service teams to be a revenue generator rather than a cost center, gains surrounding post-holiday customer outreach can bolster an already-strong shopping season.
Recognizing the Opportunity in Returns
Return rates are always a logistical burden at the end of the holiday season. According to Oracle data from recent years, more than 75% of consumers plan to return at least one of their gifts, and 20% plan to return more than half of their gifts.
Let those incredible stats settle in for a minute…
While returns are never the desired outcome for retailers—particularly if those returns are handed back to consumers in the form of straight-up cash—they do represent an additional touchpoint and opportunity for optimization in the consumer journey. And, with every consumer interaction lies a potential touchpoint for a sale.
For retailers processing returns, use the opportunity of return items to present consumers with relevant discounts. Rather than a “We received your return. Thank you” email, that real estate can be used to show similar products to a consumer that has already revealed interest in a category. Marketers should focus on messaging that acknowledges the return, but then directs customers to other products they may be interested in.
These return emails can also be used to deliver customers exclusive offers on these relevant products. Instead of money walking out the door in the form of cash-back returns, giving a customer a personalized, AI-driven discount on a similar product can contribute to crucial winback revenue in the post-holiday season. Customizing the discount that is offered in these emails increases conversions, revenue and profits compared to offering a standard “one size fits all” offer (learn more about AI-driven email promotion technology here).
Using Post-Holiday Email Campaigns to Sell Relevant Products
The best-case scenario for holiday gifts is that your customer loves what they received, has no desire to return the item, and has come away from the shopping experience with a positive impression of the brand. This positive experience is also an opportunity for another touchpoint in an email campaign cadence.
After the holidays are over, use successful sales as a driver of ancillary sales. Sending an email to a proven purchase customer base that reinforces brand messaging and cross-promotes additional items can be a great opportunity for additional post-holiday revenue.
Focusing an email to the effect of “We hope your recipient loved their gift, here are some additional items that go great with your purchase” creates an additional cross-sell opportunity. This messaging should also contain a relevant, personalized discount that incentivizes a repeat purchase with the company. This type of outreach has a twofold effect: not only does it create an additional sales opportunity, but it keeps your brand top-of-mind for customers after the traditional holiday sales season.
One thing to keep in mind with these additional touchpoints, however, is the risk of over-messaging your customers. According to Forrester, “wearing out your list now sacrifices longer-term revenue, compromises your sender reputation, and potentially deletes forever the identifier you need to stay in touch with a customer.” So remember to be strategic in your messaging, and optimize offers so customers feel like they’re being given value in the interaction, so make these emails count by offering right-sized promotions for each individual based on their respective price sensitivities
Client Services Can Be Heroes Too
Processing return requests is part of the post-holiday sales process. While most retailers have made the return dialogue as straightforward as possible in recent years, there are still countless customers who will choose to interact with a retailer’s client services team to process their return, whether online, email, chat, and of course, the phone. These interactions, again, present an opportunity for winback revenue in the post-holiday period.
Empowering client services teams to offer discounts on other relevant products rather than a simple apology and cash return (usually in the form of a check in the mail!) can turn a traditional loss leader into a revenue generator. By integrating discounting engines into client services clouds—like RevTrax’s Salesforce Service Cloud integration—retailers are able to control and focus offers to customers in a way that drives winback sales without sacrificing margins.
Remember: every touchpoint with a customer is an opportunity. Once the dust settles on holiday sales, there is a world of potential available to retailers who plan their email strategies accordingly to account for post-holiday follow-ups and returns. By optimizing offers and empowering client services teams, a typically slow sales season can be transformed into a tone setter for the rest of Q1 and beyond.