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Guest Blogger

By Michael Poyser, Chief Analytics Officer at Ecrebo

With Christmas done and dusted, retailers are looking ahead to the rest of the established events in the seasonal calendar, from Valentine’s Day and Easter, to Mother’s Day and Halloween. As a retailer, taking advantage of these seasonal events isn’t anything new. But with increasing competition on the high street, challenging economic conditions and demanding customers, you’re focused finding the best ways to increase footfall, retention and revenue.

This is especially true considering there is more to seasonal promotions than selling sweets at Halloween or roses on Valentine’s Day. Through the use of data you can plan and execute effective campaigns that are relevant to customers, while also gaining a deeper understanding into shopping behaviour.

We all know that data is crucial in retail but what’s important to remember is that it can be used in a number of ways to help you meet your objectives, whether that’s driving customer engagement, improving top line revenue or streamlining marketing campaigns. The question is how?

The dual role of data

In retail there is often the debate around which data is better — real-time or historical. In reality, both types of data are extremely valuable and deliver different benefits to retailers.

For example, long-term historical data gathered at the point of sale helps you build an overall picture of both your customers and their behaviour. This takes place across months, years and millions of transactions, giving you an insight into areas including spending patterns, popular products, which items are bought together, etc.

It also helps you determine what products are considered complementary or competitive, for example, and can be used to influence stock decisions, wider marketing and even store layout.

This type of data also helps you make the most out of seasonal trends, allowing you to analyse aspects such as which products were the biggest sellers on certain days of the year (such as Bank Holidays), which promotions worked best to increase footfall and which products didn’t sell at all.

Real-time or in-store data, on the other hand, is helpful in making you more agile. Gathered at the point of sale, this data helps you react to events and be more proactive in light of ad hoc events. For example, you can capitalise on a cold snap in summer by using basket data to deliver relevant promotions at the point of sale, such as soups or warm drinks.

Working together, both types of data enable you to build a more comprehensive picture of your customers and what’s happening from store level all the way through to regional trends.

Take promotions beyond the event

Having a handle on this data also enables you to think beyond the obvious when it comes to seasonal events. For example, historical data can tell you that chocolate sales increased in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. That’s not surprising. However, in the weeks following the event it could be that there is a dip in chocolate buying, with certain customers who normally buy chocolate weekly not buying any at all. This could indicate a health kick or something similar. You could tailor communications and offers around this new behaviour, perhaps promoting smoothies or fresh fruit and veg, or cross-selling other products like lean meat or chicken.

Another way of boosting engagement around seasonal events is to ensure activity after the day/s is equally relevant and engaging. While the build up to an event like Christmas is critical for your promotional calendar, there’s no reason for activity to suddenly stop afterwards. With the judicious use of data and the associated insights, you can adapt offers and communications, make audience segments more granular and offer more value to customers in order to boost retention.

Looking at the Christmas example, shoppers will have taken advantage of promotions and offers before the event. Typically, spending dips after the event to even out possible over-spending. Here there is an opportunity for you to address customer needs going into January by offering money-off promotions, or discounts on frequently bought products. All of which helps encourage them back into store and demonstrates that you understand their needs.

Make offers work

Offers can be used to boost engagement and interaction with your brand too. All too often coupons, promotions and offers are forgotten in the depths of our handbags, wallets or shopping bags and expire. Certain types of offers do need a fixed or short expiration date. But if you were to extend other offers as part of a seasonal campaign, you can add momentum to the journey and deliver more value to customers. This works well with the large-scale events like Black Friday, Christmas and back to school.

In the build up to the event you can plan a campaign with a five- or six-window redemption cycle. Each time your customer redeems an offer, it triggers the next one. The value of the campaign is that each offer is based on updated data so they are more relevant and targeted to your customer’s needs. As they follow the touch points in the redemption journey, you can add momentum and increase spend per visit and improve retention.

Moving forward

While data gathered at the point of sale no doubt plays a key role in the success of seasonal events and allows you to optimise their effectiveness, it can also be used to improve customer retention and drive meaningful engagement throughout the year. Historical data combined with real-time data can help transform your marketing efforts, enhance customer retention and ultimately increase your revenue — all by delivering offers, communication and promotions at the point of sale.

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