Just like every year, (e)retailers and brands are gearing up for the festive season. Christmas is just around the corner and there is a lot at stake. What are the best marketing strategies e-retailers can use to make Christmas a success? In this discussion with Sébastien Robles, Marketing Director at Brandalley, and Benoit Bouteille, Customer Success Director at Splio, we cover how special offers, targeted emails and predictive marketing are some of the secrets to ending the year on a high.
What are the biggest challenges for brands and e-retailers at Christmas?
Sébastien Robles: Christmas is one of the most important times of the year for us. Our whole organization pulls together for this period, with some teams even working six months upstream. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, there’s a real effervescence at Brandalley and it brings the whole company together..
To give an order of magnitude, Christmas represents 20% of our annual revenue, and that’s mostly from the new collections. There are lots of offers at this time of the year, so it’s imperative that our messages reach our prospects and customers.
Benoit Bouteille: With so many marketing messages being dispersed at this time of year, retailers and brands don’t get many chances to really be heard by their customers. Hence, they have to carefully select which message to send to which target. Some retailers also have a trade-marketing challenge: they have to manage their relationships with suppliers, which means showcasing each of the brands in their portfolios.
What is the journey for launching a Christmas campaign?
SR: It all starts with sourcing good products, which kicks off in the summer. Christmas campaigns officially start at the end of October, when we start presenting our gift ideas. It then revs up suddenly at the end of November with Black Friday – called White Friday at Brandalley – which has become a key sales event in Europe.
Additionally, we tweak our online Christmas store on a daily basis. Just like for our private-sales business, every day is an event in its own right with a specific focus or flash sale, working like an advent calendar.
BB: Brands and retailers do their utmost to plan and anticipate popular products, offers and messages. It’s a huge show to get on the road, and some companies start preparing six months in advance! Everything has to be perfect at each step along the way. Therefore you can’t afford to overlook one of the crucial steps: communicating with your customer base.
How do you prepare for this special Christmas period?
SR: We set up specific photo shoots to showcase our Christmas store with high-quality visuals that match our image. We also share theme-based gift ideas. This year, besides traditional presents (jewellery, watches, bags, jumpers and so on), the more sought-after items will be hats, over-the-knee boots, leather trainers, oversize jumpers, loose-fit sweatshirts, long coats, bracelets for men, lightweight down jackets, briefcases, on-trend little notebooks and so on.
We get everything in place very early on so we can inform our customers about delivery times and carrier methods. We also extend the returns period until after Christmas so customers who do their shopping early don’t get caught out. In the final few days, we push last-minute gift ideas and offer a 24-hour or even same-day delivery service in Paris.
BB: When you have an extensive catalogue with many flagship products for big brands, or an extremely varied catalogue like Brandalley’s, you must target very specifically. This ensures that you can define what the right customer profile is for each product. If you don’t want to overwhelm your customers and prospects, it’s best to adopt a CRM strategy with targeted campaigns. The trick is getting yourself heard and promoting the right offer to the right person.
Sébastien, could you please tell us more about Brandalley’s CRM strategy?
SR: We communicate with our customers using various types of messages. Some are very general messages addressed to a wide audience, and others are much more specifically targeted depending on the product categories offered, their price range, brands or the level of customer engagement. The pressure on our customer base is a little higher, but we can keep a lid on it by increasing our targeted messages to a small number of prospective customers using push notifications, emails and social networks. This helps us pinpoint specific topics, such as the most “out there” ideas for teenagers or Christmas table decorations.
Finally, do you have a secret ingredient for making Christmas a success?
SR: The only recipe we know is rather clichéd: every link in the chain has to be perfect, from sourcing products to hitting delivery times. We are obsessed with customer satisfaction. We want to avoid the drama of a missing gift under the tree at all costs. Besides our revenue, we measure success over the festive season by looking at repeat purchases during another upcoming busy retail period: the sales!
BB: For us it’s not really a top secret! We believe predictive marketing gives you some of Santa’s magical abilities. It can pick out exactly which products customers want and help find the perfect gift to put under the tree And if Splio can add extra sparkle to your Christmas campaign, what are you waiting for?
Thanks to Sébastien Robles, Marketing Director at Brandalley, and Benoit Bouteille, Customer Success Director at Splio, for this interview. There’s no time to waste if you want to get everything wrapped up before the holidays: send our Customer Success team your Christmas wish list now!