Retail reporting

Don't just regift, rethink: Personalizing your customer's digital holiday shopping experience

  • alex bravo
    Alex Bravo
  • Oct 15, 2020

Here's how to personalize your customer's digital holiday shopping experience.

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We’ve all received a present that felt like it had been sitting in someone’s basement or re-gifted with more emphasis on urgency than thoughtfulness.

Oh thank you, you said meekly as you opened it with feigned enthusiasm. You shouldn’t have, you declared quietly as you stuck it your own regifting pile.

In holiday gift exchanging, as with holiday customer engagement, personalization matters.

During a typical holiday season, shoppers are already inundated with emails, alerts, and targeted content from every corner of every device they own. This year in particular, though, as more shoppers go online and navigate new norms of BOPIS and contactless delivery practices, communicating with your customers requires more mindfulness than ever—and personalization is one core component of that.

Never has ‘there’s no place like home for the holidays’ rang more true than in 2020. After nearly a year in quarantine, U.S. consumers are shopping more from the safety of their home than ever before, with 62 percent of them saying “no amount” of safety measures will persuade them to shop in stores this Black Friday.

So while your physical storefront can’t beat home, sweet home this year, meeting customers where they are with a personalized digital approach can still make your sales— and their experience— merry and bright.

Here’s why 49 percent of shoppers will be more likely to purchase from retailers that send personalized content and/or offers and what you can do to cut through the noise while offering a safe, secure, and special shopping experience straight from their homes.

Dress in holiday style

From a doorbuster deal for the first 50 people in line, to a surprise gift with purchase, the joy and coinciding value of personalized holiday shopping experiences have historically occurred in person. There’s just a certain thrill to finding a gift for your loved ones in a store full of brands you know and trust.

But with the right technology, this same experience can be converted to a digital space to make the shopping experience even more special for your customers. By identifying new engagement opportunities unique to your audience and your brand whenever possible, you can continue to build this brand loyalty without face-to-face opportunities.

Leverage video for some face time

Brands like JRNI are helping their clients do just that with programmable video to power remote appointments and remote event features.

But this shift doesn’t have to be a fancy, robust offering exclusively. Regardless of business size, consider using video to deliver a one-on-one shopping experience or hosting a one-to-many virtual event as you showcase new merchandise for your customers to purchase live.

Use data wisely

Another avenue to personalizing your audience’s experience is leveraging data on your customer engagement and your target audience's preferences.

With 39 percent of customers saying they are overwhelmed by marketing during the holidays, knowing when to send content that is relevant to your audience and what channel to send it through is crucial to your messaging actually being read. Doing audience research now with quick surveys and form fill-outs and offering incentive to customers for doing so, can help drive sales with this data through the holiday season and beyond.

Customer service and support always matters

It wouldn’t be the holidays if we didn’t also consider the days after Christmas. On the biggest return and exchange days of the year (as well as the lead up to the holidays), having stellar digital customer service will be paramount in developing strong customer relationships. Using technology like SMS or WhatsApp messaging or even AI such as chatbots are some of the ways to make a customer feel supported and heard throughout their shopping experience.

Read on for expert advice on how to leverage AI to create more meaningful customer experiences.

Building brand loyalty through customer relationships is even more important without face-to-face opportunities. Finding new digital avenues to personalize your audience’s shopping journey through different channels and platforms can help translate and even enhance these experiences.

Gift them your best

Blanket of fresh, fallen snow? Nice. Blanket of unoriginal and incessant text messages and emails? Naughty. Stay on your customer’s nice list and cut through the content clutter with strategic omnichannel communications.

With COVID-19 accelerating companies’ digital communications strategy by an average of 6 years, your messages will need to stand out in the ever-growing sea of communications. And while throwing customer preference out the window in favor of meeting your Q4 goals can be a tempting game to play, turning up the volumes of your communications with no customization is a quick way to lose customers and deter others from learning more about your brand.

Cutting through the noise by sending fewer messages may seem illogical, but we’ve found that cleaning your subscriber list and reducing frequency for certain segments leads to better engagement and conversions. Care to check our numbers twice? Peruse these data-driven tips from SendGrid’s 22 billion plus emails sent during 2019’s Cyber Monday week.

And on the subject of emailing, don’t make the mistake of assuming that one communication channel fits all. Channel preferences vary based on the type of information you're sending, the timing, and even demographics and geographical location. While email is generally preferred overall for most business communication, when used thoughtfully, SMS marketing can be an excellent channel to influence urgency for flash sales and highly sought-after items.

Use our business value calculator to determine the ROI of implementing text messaging into your business communication strategy.

And remember, big loyalty comes in small gestures. Everything from a thank you email for purchasing to a return confirmation SMS is an opportunity to personalize and reinforce your brand value. Reliability and timing of these transactional messages matter as well.

Learn more about choosing the right channels for your messaging strategy from companies who are excelling at omnichannel communications.

Grinch-proof your customer engagement

What else will keep your customers in good spirits? Making sure their experience is not only personalized for their enjoyment and ease of use, but also for their security. Strengthen your position as a trusted brand by ensuring your communications and applications are secure.

By protecting and streamlining your product’s registration, authentication, and recovery processes among other security precautions, you can protect your customers from hackers and data breaches both while shopping and long after their presents have arrived.

Creating a secure digital presence doesn’t just protect your customers, it also protects your business. According to Juniper Research, online sellers will lose $130 billion to online payment fraud between 2018 and 2023. Prevent transactions fraud by adding low-friction, strong customer authentication.

Security practices and expectations are constantly evolving: just look to the EU, who have already laid out technical requirements for adding security to payments and money transfers. Verify Push can help meet these requirements while integrating easily into your existing app flows.

And that’s a wrap

This holiday season, it’s your business’s careful and thoughtful approach to personalization that will make your customer’s shopping experience a seamless shift from physical to digital.

Give the gift that keeps giving by creating content your audience truly cares about on their preferred channels of communicating and create brand loyalty for years to come.

Twilio for retail and ecommerce

Learn more about preparing for a pandemic holiday season with our full retailer holiday guide here.

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alex bravo

Alex Bravo

Alex Bravo is a Sr. PMM for Retail at Twilio. With a background in business strategy consulting and supply chain, Alex helps define how Twilio enables brands to turn engagement challenges into opportunities to build delightful customer experiences. She is also an instructor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the NGO Science Clubs International and was a guest lecturer through the department of economics at her alma mater, Harvard University.