The events of this year have all but guaranteed we’ll see a holiday season unlike any other. Consumer behaviors are changing rapidly. Due to stay-at-home orders, McKinsey reported an astonishing 10-year growth for ecommerce in just three months. And with retailers losing so much store traffic, the pressure is on to recoup those losses with a stellar Q4. We’re already seeing brands like Target, Nordstrom and Kohl’s planning holiday sales closer to Halloween than Black Friday. How are ANINE BING and rue21 getting ready?

ANINE BING’s Auri Pope and rue21’s Lexy Blankenship discussed their holiday preparation plans with Sailthru’s Retail Advisor Monica Deretich on our latest Food for Thought webinar. Read on to learn more.

How ANINE BING Is Tailoring Its Triggers

ANINE BING is already deep in holiday planning mode, pulling data from previous holiday seasons. Understanding what’s worked (and what hasn’t) helps set the luxury retailer up for success. One invaluable insight: which channels ultimately drive the most retention.

“We make decisions by optimizing each individual channel, but still make sure we have one cohesive message. For example, during a sale period, our retention mostly comes from email,” explains Auri Pope, Customer Retention Manager at ANINE BING. “We’re looking at turning off paid media during sale periods because it doesn’t give us the return that we need. We get more bang for our buck by sending triggered messages than paying to get back a customer who was likely already going to return.”

Every email marketer knows that triggered messages outperform generic campaign sends. It makes sense; these emails are behavior-based, making them inherently personalized. ANINE BING further personalizes its triggered messages by tailoring them to acquisition sources. Welcome series differ depending on whether a customer signed up from, say, a sale signup page or Instagram.

Holiday season shipping delays are all too common. As a result, ANINE BING is also prioritizing “experience triggers.”

“We’re working with Sailthru to set up a lot of Lifecycle Optimizer flows. Let’s say a customer doesn’t receive a shipping confirmation within X days of placing their order. We’ll have a special email we send out so fewer customers are reaching out to our customer support team,” says Auri. “We’ll also have Overlays on the site as reminders like, ‘Hey, we know your order is a little delayed.’ More than anything, transparency is what a customer wants within their order.”

“Every Channel Has a Unique Opportunity to Win This Holiday Season”

For rue21, holiday planning also involves personalized emails as well as accounting for changes in consumer behavior. The retailer is able to kill two birds with one stone, using advanced personalization elements from our sister brand Liveclicker.

Click-and-collect shopping options like curbside pickup were already growing in popularity, which the coronavirus pandemic only accelerated. According to Google data, 53% of holiday shoppers plan to choose stores that offer contactless shopping. rue21 plans to factor that into its dynamic store locators, which ensure information is accurate at moment-of-open.

“We’re updating our store locator to include whether that location offers buy online, pickup in-store or curbside pickup, to create a more seamless omnichannel experience from digital to the storefronts,” adds Lexy Blankenship, rue21’s Senior Coordinator of Email Marketing. “That way, it’s relevant and accurate to a customer’s closest store.”

That exemplifies the way rue21 thinks of its digital channels and storefronts as ultimately part of the same experience. The brand’s testing strategy, already underway, reflects that. Still, that consistency doesn’t mean that each channel should be treated the same.

“What might work for your paid channels might not be the same as what works for email or SMS. Understanding the channels and what resonates with each customer base is going to be super important,” says Lexy. “Every channel has a unique opportunity to win this holiday season. You just need to be strategic in your approach.”

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