It is August already and, in retail, Christmas is creeping up like a sneaky Santa slipping pressies into a stocking at the end of the bed.

Before the month is up, the first signs of the festive season will be sliding into public view with supermarkets usually throwing their choccy tin mountains onto the shop floor while we are still slopping about in our flip-flops.

Heck, they have even started announcing Strictly contestants for the 2021 season, so we may as well get the tree up now.

Seriously though, for the retail industry the golden quarter has long been perceived as the cherry on the cake, the crème de la crème, the star at the top of the Nordmann Fir if you will.

OK we will rein it in a bit. Oops there we go again – rein. Get it? Oh never mind.

A great deal of emphasis and, indeed, pressure surrounds the last three months of the year as retailers and brands consider it their chance to shine and maximise profits; strategies are formulated through the summer months to ensure everything is set up and ready to go for the Christmas rush.

Black Friday, an American retail tradition started in the early Sixties when police in Philadelphia coined the phrase to describe the chaos on the high streets and highways the day after Thanksgiving, is now also a major shopping date in the diary here in the UK – Cyber Monday too.

Both ‘discount days’, however, seem to stretch way beyond 24 hours each now, particularly online, with retailers tapping into their customers’ desire to snatch a bargain at the most expensive time of the year.

More traditionally in the UK, Boxing Day was always a big deal in retail with shoppers queuing at the crack of sparrows to ensure they are first in the door to get their hands on the best prices.

But retail has moved on a long way in recent years and it takes so much more thought and intelligent planning to not only attract a customer, but to keep them invested and loyal to your brand for the long term.

It has, in many way, become more wholesome and refined, with customers looking for authenticity and connection, rather than just empty transactions, whether they engage with a brand digitally or physically and at any time of the year.

While the buzz and busyness of the golden quarter has, understandably, traditionally been a key focus for the industry – the fact remains a customer should be held onto for as long as possible, not just at Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Stellar, we are masters of ensuring your strategy remains consistent and effective across the entirety of the year.

While it may be commonplace to recruit more staff and pour every ounce of energy and creativity into your Christmas campaign, it is just as vital to sustain this level of freshness and intrigue throughout the year in order to draw in, connect with and build relationships with your audience.

Retail experiences delivered by professionally trained, knowledgable, approachable staff that are trusted by customers to impart their expertise in a clear and digestible way, are the key to achieving year-round success.

As designers and creators of unique and exciting shopping experiences, we know how impactful these can be when executed correctly.

It is important to craft these experiences to suit each audience, so they feel understood, inspired and encouraged to get involved and connect more deeply with your brand on a regular basis.

This level of focus and detail goes a long way to cement relationships, while keeping people interested and invested.

While Christmas will always be the busiest time of the shopping year, if brands and retailers have worked consistently hard to connect with their customers and offer them something they feel part of all year round, then half the battle is won.

And the proof is in the (Christmas) pudding! You only have to look at the great work Stellar have been doing with Sage Appliances to see this theory in action. They use a consistent team of brand experts to deliver an always-on demonstration programme across Europe – ensuring they’re always there when their customers need them. This has resulted in a 350% annual increase on ROI, not just in the busy Christmas period.

Once festive purchases commence in earnest, loyal followers are far more likely to look to their favourite brands first to help them find the perfect gifts for their nearest and dearest, secure in the knowledge they will enjoy the experience and be treated to exceptional customer service from start to finish.

Paying attention to each and every step of a customer’s journey with you is as vital as the sale itself.

From the first encounter, your customer wants to feel something, be delighted and inspired to stick around to learn more.

Experiences from pop up concept stores to product demonstrations, VR and AR encounters to masterclasses, the more a brand captures the imagination of and immerses its audience, the better.

The unboxing phenomenon has penetrated the industry in recent years too, so how a product is presented, wrapped and delivered can really add to the experience – just do not forget to make that packaging sustainable – we have a planet to save after all.

Help customers to get the most from their product by educating and empowering them; the more confident they feel to use their new purchase, the less likely they are to return it and the greater the chance they will come back for more.

And last but by no means least – shareability.

Make each experience as fresh and pleasing as possible and your audience will not be able to resist sharing the life out of it.

Better still build a community within which your followers can connect with each other and then share that same love with their own followers.

Year round consistency is the only way to build and sustain a long term devoted customer base.

While the golden quarter may look all shiny and full of promise (and mince pies), the remainder of the year can really deliver for you too.

Want to build a more immersive customer retail journey? Get in touch with Stellar.

Find more of our insight articles on retail experiences here.

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