There is no respite for retailers - shopping is a 365 days a year activity, with an increasing number of consumers now shopping on Christmas Day. But while retailers will be preparing for high traffic and worrying about online performance ahead of Christmas, how much more value can be achieved by leveraging Christmas Day itself?

Christmas dinner; tick. Opened presents; tick. Online shopping? Tick.

For retailers, Christmas Day is no longer ‘the day before the Boxing Day sales’; it has become an important day in the online retail calendar in its own right. Indeed, sales on Christmas Day itself were up 21% on last year, with the busiest time between 9pm and 10pm. But are these shoppers trying to get a head start on the Boxing Day offers – and avoid the in-store crowds? Or is the shopping more about extra presents on the big day? From redeeming gift vouchers, to buying accessories for a gift or even looking for an alternative for a misguided present, as well as hoping to bag an early-bird bargain, shopping on Christmas Day is likely to become a family affair.

For retailers, the number one priority has to be ensuring a smooth customer experience – and with most individuals shopping on the sofa, after too much food and television, that means an optimised mobile experience. The percentage of traffic for retailers from mobile devices continues to rise, with retailers citing as much as 70% of traffic coming from mobile phones and tablets; so the pre-Christmas focus should be all about optimising the mobile checkout journey before the essential December code-freeze.

It is also important to recognise that Christmas is likely to prompt a swathe of new customers to online sites, especially those encouraged by family members, who may not be typical online buyers. Retailers, therefore, need to ensure before Christmas that the online experience is prepared for new, as well as returning shoppers. Coming up with relevant offers and journeys for these different segments, rather than treating everyone the same, will be key to both maximising revenue on Christmas Day and creating a long-term, loyal customer.

Indeed, this is also a stellar opportunity for retailers to simply collect a lot of data about customers' preferences, from items browsed to favourite categories. The spike in traffic will allow the creation of segments that can be used throughout the rest of the year to personalise the customer experience and increase engagement.

Building expectation

Last year’s increase in Christmas Day activity was a surprise for many retailers – and perhaps consumers, too.

This year many consumers may even be planning in advance to shop on Christmas Day and retailers must be prepared. From social media to email campaigns, innovative promotions in the run up to the festive season can provide consumers with compelling reasons to download a retailer’s mobile app or accept push notifications.

Companies could reap huge rewards from long-term customer engagement from these actions. By offering special Christmas Day offers or early access to Boxing Day discounts, retailers can improve customer engagement both during the Christmas period and beyond.

No longer the calm before the Boxing Day storm, Christmas Day presents a compelling chance to capture and engage customers, new and old.

 

By Oren Cohen, head of mobile and personalisation EMEA at Optimizely

 

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