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Christmas

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Jingle bells, as Selfridges opens Christmas shop

Selfridges has opened its Christmas shop with the theme for 2017 being ‘With Love From.’

The move has been met with a mixture of surprise, excitement and bewilderment by customers passing through the fourth floor of London’s Oxford Street store, with fake fir trees and a jolly Santa greeting people months ahead of the big day.

Opening the Christmas shop last month, the store featured a curated range of London inspired Christmas products, with Christmas food items rolling out last week.

The full 130,000 product range, including 51,000 baubles and 65 light and tree options will commence withy phase two in September.

Speaking about the early opening of the Christmas shop, Selfridges Christmas and home buyer Eleanor Gregory, said: “We’ve been opening the doors to our Christmas Shop during the summer for years now and have become a real destination for fans of Christmas and festive decorations within and outside the UK.

“Some customers return to us year after year, excited at the prospect of discovering the new ranges and adding to their collections.

“They include a large number of domestic customers who love to Christmas shop very early in the year to get it wrapped and taken off their to-do list.

“This new extension to our usual offer is addressing this growing demand for convenience – domestic customers who love to Christmas shop very early in the year to get it wrapped and taken off their to-do list.”

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Waitrose wins strongest Christmas email campaign title…

The email service provider Mailjet has revealed that Waitrose is ahead of its competitor supermarkets in the email campaign stakes, analysing key metrics including the chain’s subject lines, automation, cross-channel marketing and personalisation.

Reaching a total score of 21.3 points out of an available 29.0, this marks the second consecutive victory for Waitrose in the study and represents a significant improvement on the supermarket’s performance from last year, rising 10 per cent overall.

Mid-market brands Tesco and Asda closely followed Waitrose’s success, hitting 20.0 and 19.9 respectively, however, Marks & Spencer struggled to compete scoring just 17.4 in total.

With regards to emails prospecting new consumer audiences, the research places Morrisons and Sainsbury’s joint last as both failed to send any communications to consumers who haven’t yet purchased through their online shopping platforms.

Josie Scotchmer, UK marketing manager at Mailjet said: “Consumers buy from the brands they build emotional connections with, particularly during the Christmas season. With low scores in critical areas for digital marketing like personalisation and automation, many supermarkets are not making the most of their emails to engage consumers with powerful storytelling.

As Mailjet suggests there has been much discussion on the importance of campaign personalisation this year, just two of the total eight supermarkets surveyed registered a score above 0.0. Specifically, Asda fell short on the top spot for its lack of personalisation, losing five points by omitting any room to add personal messaging to the email in favour of a singularly product-focused, visual structure.

Scotchmer added: “Winning greater share of the market in run up to Christmas holiday relies on having an online and offline campaign that fires on all cylinders. There are opportunities for all of these brands to learn from one another and broaden their use of digital strategies to engage and build loyalty with consumers at this critical period in the retail calendar.”

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Guest Blog, Milana Saric: The retailer’s guide to last minute Christmas social advertising…

The Christmas holiday season is often far from the most wonderful time of year for retail marketers. Sales success can seem as elusive as finding the perfect gift for the pickiest person on your gift list.

Pressure around holiday marketing builds for good reasons. Many retailers make more than half of their sales and profits in the three months leading up to Christmas. In 2015, UK holiday sales rose by 2.3 per cent from £74.26 billion to £75.96 billion, buoyed by the growth of events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With consumers facing seasonal messages and advertisements from all directions, it takes careful planning to execute campaigns that will break through the noise. It’s important to provide a seamless cross-channel experience because, in the UK, 70 per cent of social media time is spent on smartphones. And you’ll have to spend. The days of relying on organic social media to deliver your message are long gone. To convert specific audiences into buyers you will need paid social media: the vastness of its reach, its finely tuned targeting and array of compelling ad units.

To boost your social advertising for the final weeks, here are some tips on making your social Christmas campaigns sing like the King’s College Choir:

Timing

Even though we’re close to Christmas, online is at its peak, and is still a key time for driving awareness and increasing product consideration. With the extra time off, consumers are in a much more relaxed state-of-mind; and will spend more time browsing and shopping online.

Pinterest is an important tool during this phase of the season, with audiences using the platform to plan their holiday activities, as well as to research and bookmark gifts for themselves, family, and friends. Facebook and Instagram are additional platforms to reach audiences at scale and drive them to your site to browse.

Pre-Test

In the final run-up to Christmas there’s a huge opportunity to test. See which products and messaging audiences respond to in order to focus on top-performers when sales start. Leverage the audiences you have already driven to your site and dynamically retarget users based on product pages they have viewed. Put the right items in front of shoppers at the right time.

Messaging

Throughout, focus on driving awareness and engagement by promoting valuable content that’s shareable. Then move people further down the funnel with consideration and conversion-led content with strong calls-to-action that will prompt them to act on their purchase intent. From Black Friday onwards, an important sales period – and a lot of retailers are still continuing the discounts, messaging should be much more conversion-focused.

On Pinterest, build content that is helpful and informative. Focus on how your brand’s products and services solve challenges for consumers. For instance, you could have Pins with themes such as ‘6 office party outfits’, ‘Tips for buying wearables for your loved one’, or ‘Party planning guide.’

For Twitter, create infographics that include valuable sale shopping tips. This kind of shareable content will increase engagement as well as organic reach. Capitalise on the season’s buzz by using tweets to tap into live conversations about the holidays.

Snapchat’s Snap Ads, completely viewable, full-screen video, provide an extremely powerful video experience. Capture attention with short, concise video (3-7 seconds) that showcases your key holiday brand story.

Don’t be afraid to run experiments. Splashes of colour can have thumb-stopping power so play around with various options without compromising your brand identity. A/B test ad types against one another depending on your goals.

Targeting

Target users based on their online and offline purchase behaviour with third-party audiences from data providers such as Datalogix and Acxiom. These audiences can be synched to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts and activated across your campaigns.

Start with broad targeting and narrow down the audiences once you’ve gathered sufficient learning. Use CRM data to re-engage lapsed customers and ensure they are aware of your latest offering and/or promotions.

Develop a retargeting strategy to leverage audiences that have recently visited or purchased from your website or engaged with your brand’s content on social media.

Tap into custom audience segments offered by social platforms and third-party data providers for targeting. Snapchat is one platform that has released audience categories – Snap Lifestyle Categories – to reach users based on how they engage on the platform. These include fashion and style gurus, film and TV fans, foodies, sports fans, and more.

Ad Formats

Video is the most powerful way to drive awareness for products/services and is no longer just a landscape experience. Snapchat led the way with vertical video, a format that allows a brand to take up 100 per cent screen share-of-voice. Facebook has also begun to offer a vertical video unit.

For online sales, use Facebook’s lead ad and Twitter’s lead generation unit to grow awareness for a sale and incentivise users to subscribe to receive information.

In terms of increasing product consideration, ad formats such as Carousel Ads on Facebook and Instagram and multi-product tweets on Twitter are very effective in showcasing multiple products and enabling storytelling. Promoted Pins are powerful because so many users actively save Pins to come back to the content later. They’re also a huge traffic-driver, so use keyword targeting to ensure users searching and planning on Pinterest find your products.

 

Milana Saric is the client strategy director, EMEA at Adaptly and has a wealth of experience helping advertisers to execute digital marketing strategies and drive brand awareness on social media. She is responsible for clients across the entertainment, fashion and retail sectors.

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Guest Blog, Leon Edwards: Is this the last Christmas before online takes over?

It would have been hard to miss a retail story in the pages of last January’s news outlets. It’s not difficult to foresee the same for this New Year given the next eight weeks will be critical to many UK retailers. We’ve just seen Black Friday come and go, and the countdown to Christmas has just begun. If you read market analysts’ comments, their respective prediction is an 11 per cent growth on last year for both events an important statistic in itself when considering the beleaguered high street and its various woes; watch out the retailer that gets Christmas wrong.

Of greater importance to our brick and mortar stores is the continued rise of online sale. Black Friday, the sometimes maniacal, always bargained ladened US-style event, takes internet shopping to new heights. In 2015, estimates suggest £3-4 billion in retail sales over the period with as much as one third being spent online.

A similar trend can be seen throughout the whole Christmas shopping period, admittedly with a lower cyber-shopping focus. This has led to Christmas footfall reducing year-on-year – meaning fewer people in the shops. In fact, data suggests that the only increase we’ve seen in shoppers visiting physical stores is to pick up their ‘click and collect’ items.

If things continue, it won’t be long before the majority of our festive bargains are snatched up online. What will this mean for the high street and for retailers in general?

There’s a strong economic argument to eCommerce: no expensive property to fill and maintain leading to better margins, broader ranges and better availability. But, with the transparency that the internet brings, surely it’s just a race to the bottom where the lowest price and quickest delivery wins.

With stores you get interaction, entertainment and people. Not that people always help: a recent study we conducted found that of the 2,008 UK-based consumers polled, 68 per cent were put off by store staff ‘actively selling’ to them. Perhaps not a surprise when 89 per cent of 968 sales assistants we spoke to said they did not enjoy the experience at all.

It’s likely that this type of consumer sentiment isn’t helping in the battle against online, and if the trend continues, shops have much work to do to survive, let alone thrive.

I don’t think anyone is predicting the complete demise of the retail store just yet. They point at Amazon’s retail stores as a beacon of hope. But, the retail environment will change as a result of our changing shopping habits – it has to.

We are starting to see that transition already with augmented reality (AR) shopping experiences, multi-store layouts and ‘social’ retailing where a coffee and sit down might replace a pushy assistant.

There are many occasions that I walk back out of a shop empty handed even though I need the product(s) I’m shopping for. More help with wayfinding, product selection and speed of transaction is required. After all, part of the internet’s joy is the ease of finding and purchasing products.

Perhaps it’s time to borrow something, other than Black Friday, from our American cousins; the art of traditional retailing where the customer experience is all that matters.

 

Leon Edwards is the managing director of www.Displaymode.co.uk, a UK point of purchase company. It is a privately owned business that employs 55 people at its design and manufacturing facility in Northamptonshire. With an enviable client list from the retail and consumer goods world, they have exported to 34 countries since the Brexit vote.

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In-store and online equal in popularity this Christmas…

The second annual Rubicon Project ‘Christmas Consumer Pulse Poll’ suggests online shopping will be as popular as in-store this holiday season.

Based on a conducted 1,000 interviews in the UK, the poll found 76 per cent of consumers are planning on completing gift purchases online – equal to the amount that plan to shop in-store – and almost nine in 10 (88 per cent) will shop and/or research their Christmas purchases online.

With nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) declaring they will not do any Christmas shopping in-store this year, the study also revealed 45 per cent will make a Christmas purchase via their mobile device. This is largely defined by two demographics: 75 per cent of millennials and 66 per cent of parents will do at least some of their Christmas shopping on a mobile.

Anticipated spend for Christmas this year is £748 per person, up from a recorded £732 in the same research last year. 77 per cent of respondents to this year’s survey said they plan to spend the same or more, whilst just 23 per cent plan to spend less on their Christmas shopping.

 

Read more on the findings and download the poll here

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Christmas and January sales to be dampened by Black Friday…

More than two-thirds of consumers plan to take full advantage of Black Friday deals, which kick-starts the surge of Christmas shoppers, but consumers anticipate a curb in spending through the month of December and in the January sales. 

As it’s revealed that 62 per cent are planning to use Black Friday (November 25) as an opportunity to buy discounted presents, a survey by retail and brand consultancy, The Market Creative, found that 26 per cent of shoppers anticipate they will spend less money in December. 

Analysts suggest the impact on spending is likely to run into early 2017, as 28 per cent of shoppers said the introduction of Black Friday and Cyber Monday had made them less interested in the January sales, due to generally better and more attractive offers. 

Sue Benson, managing director at The Market Creative said:”Scenes of frenzied shoppers battling for bargains have influenced our perception that Black Friday deals are shorter and deeper than other sales. Coupled with our desire for instant gratification Black Friday could well be a retailers dream period as they get much-needed pre-Christmas sales in early.  
 
“But it’s not all good news. The Christmas and January sales have traditionally been the most lucrative for retailers and Black Friday has dragged spending forward. Consumer wallets are finite, so we’re seeing December full-price sales and profits cannibalised. Another watch out is the discount strategy involved, if merchandise isn’t shifted how low are retailers prepared to go in the traditional Boxing Day and January sale period?”

Although Black Friday has changed the Christmas shopping habits of younger generation consumers, the trend was less apparent among older age groups. Of the 18-24 year olds surveyed, 83 per cent plan to take advantage of Black Friday deals and 86 per cent will buy discounted Christmas gifts. However, 47 per cent of shoppers over 65 plan to buy something and just a quarter will buy Christmas presents. 
 

Access the full report here 

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Global forecast offers analytical view of Christmas retail threats…

Electronics, electronic accessories, children’s toys and apparel are expected to be the most stolen items during the Christmas period, according to the 2016 Retail Holiday Season Global Forecast. 

Underwritten by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, Inc. and carried out by retail loss prevention analyst, Ernie Deyle, the research indicates that retailers across all 13 analysed markets – including: the UK, the US, Australia, Canada and Japan – will experience both the heaviest sales volumes and the weakest performances specific to margin rate.  

Profitability strains tend to manifest during the holiday season, largely down to increased theft/shrink from internal sources — primarily via employee theft and other sales reducing activities (SRAs) — and external factors (organised retail crime/shoplifting). 

Deyle said of the findings: “Building holiday inventories earlier and specifically for high-risk items may lead to increased sales reduction pressures, including markdowns and shrink throughout the fourth quarter. In fact, as this report reveals, despite more than one-third of the year’s retail sales expected to be registered in just these three months, more than 40 per cent of SRAs are also incurred in this same time period. This leads to increased shrink, and puts additional strains on brick-and-mortar retailers already reeling from an ongoing inhospitable retail market.” 

Recommendations made in the report for retailers to address include: 

  • Properly train seasonal help to manage the increasing complexities of the season.
  • Maintain operational execution standards, while being vigilant regarding financial performance expectations.
  • Employ point of sale data analytic technology focused on SRAs to stabilise inventory loss and ensure on-shelf availability while enhancing product protection counter 
  • Update planning and financial performance models to properly account for advanced deliveries of seasonal products, since the seasonal build starts earlier now than in the past.
  • Enhance oversight to seasonal/holiday merchandise to ensure financial goals are achieved while cost centre controls are contained. 

Obtain a copy of the full report here  

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eCommerce Christmas sales expected to hit over £16bn in the UK…

The data and market research company, eMarketer, has predicted that UK retail eCommerce sales will reach an estimated £16.9 billion during the ‘core’ season shopping period of November and December; an increase from the £14.65 billion recorded in 2015 and the rising use of consumers making purchases via their smartphones considered a major contributor to eMarketer’s predictions.

According to analysis, the smartphone medium will account for 36.4 per cent of total retail mCommerce (mobile commerce) sales for the whole of 2016, and by the year 2020, total mCommerce sales is estimated to reach 52 per cent.

Senior analyst at eMarketer, Bill Fisher said: “Retail ecommerce sales during the festive season look set to shine this year, despite the wider economic conditions in the UK. This is in no small part due to a digitally advanced consumer, who has been quick to embrace digital buying and particularly smartphone buying. And during the Christmas shopping period, these digital habits become even more accentuated.”

 

Read more from eMarketer here

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Thousands of Christmas retail temp jobs still available on UK market…

Surprisingly, 21,000 Christmas jobs are still available in the UK, marking a 24 per cent increase in the number of festive roles since last year as employers are working to fill seasonal contracts for an anticipated festive rush.

With the largest proportion of this year’s vacancies falling in the retail, logistics and sales sectors, data from Adzuna has revealed that big-name online and high street retailers are stocking up on extra staff this winter, leading to thousands of temporary, part-time roles flooding the market.  Average pay for these roles is in decline and advertised pay for seasonal workers has fallen from £11.50 per hour in 2015 to just £9.32 this Christmas season.

Co-founder of Adzuna, Doug Monro said: “With a wealth of negative news hitting the job market in 2016, this boost in festive vacancies is sure to put a smile on the faces of British jobseekers. It’s not all good news, however, as average pay for festive workers looks set to drop significantly compared to last year, suggesting some top retail employers may be hiring more staff for entry level positions and cutting back on higher paid management roles.”

In addition, Royal Mail, Amazon, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have the most jobs available, with over 70,000 positions predicted between these four major players alone.