US retailers adopt new tools

19 December 2011

NEW YORK: Retailers in the US are adopting a diverse range of digital strategies for the holiday season as they seek to stand out from their rivals during a period of intense competition.

Ian Gomar, chief marketing officer, fitness, sporting goods and toys, at Sears, the department store chain, said personalised messages and promotions, be it via the web, mobile or in-store, were crucial.

"In a sense, we're aiming for the complete liberation of our customers: whatever the media channel, communication vehicle or shopping venue, we will be there, ready to engage with them and let them shop - their way," he told Forbes.

Lucky Brand, the denim retailer, believes looking beyond the immediate future is always an essential strategy, particularly when people are being bombarded with marketing messages.

"Every consumer at this point is receiving seven, ten, 15 emails a day from stores that are taking advantage of the medium and sending every single day to make forecast," Charlie Cole, its VP, online marketing, said. "Think long-term, respect your customers, and maintain the relationship that pre-existed prior to holiday."

Gilt Groupe, another fashion site, is focusing on the basics, like providing transparent information regarding the cost of shipping and ensuring shoppers are able to access special offers, which is especially vital in the festive period.

"There's nothing worse for a customer to be excited about a great deal, only to be disappointed at the last minute by a malfunctioning coupon code or a promotion that didn't work," said Jason John, its senior director, online, mobile & social marketing.

Bonobos, the online retailer specialising in apparel and accessories for men, is running a daily competition on Twitter, the microblog, promising up to $120 off for people solving challenges.

"We find that the more a promotion highlights our distinguishing brand attributes, the higher the response rate," said Richard Mumby, Bonobos' VP, marketing. "Social media platforms provide unique opportunities to attract fans and followers through gamified contests and promotions."

Home Depot, the DIY giant, also suggested that electronic gift cards, available from its website and mobile app, have the benefit of making it quick and easy to buy a present for someone.

"During Christmas when stores are closed and shipping deadlines have passed, eGift Cards turn last minute into right on time," said Spencer Allen, Home Depot's director of gift cards.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff