As we approach the all-important, year-end trading season, customers in e-commerce and retail gear up for their most important trading season.

Marketing spend and resources are all beginning to ramp up as plans are put in place to increase new customer acquisition. What’s more, you plan to drive purchases from existing customers during the now global phenomenon of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

We expect to see another record year of sales in e-commerce, as retailers embrace online discounting and consumers rush to fill their baskets with gifts for friends, family, and colleagues.

There is one little word we often hear that many retailers and e-commerce businesses fail to plan for in their data – “gifts”.

stack of gifts for Christmas holidays

The Problem

A huge percentage of the customers you gain during the best period for new customer acquisition are not buying for themselves. To some people, this isn’t news. A few other people just spat out their coffee.

All your best laid plans for post-purchase campaigns to monitor satisfaction, ensure product adoption and usage, or cross-promote complementary products and services, are completely wasted on the man who just bought pajamas for his mom on your lingerie website!

You haven’t gained a customer, you have, ladies and gentlemen, a ‘gifter’ in your customer data. You don’t even know the person who will enjoy your product, who might very well buy the matching slippers and nightwear.

Multiple order customers, the big spending holy grail of the holiday season, are sometimes the biggest challenge; they’re giving multiple people the same or similar products. Sometimes because they love your brand, other times because they’re lazy and it’s easier to prevent a family feud at Christmas by buying your nieces and nephews the same thing in different colors using the tactical boy/girl segmentation model.

The Opportunity

Before you think I’ve ruined your day, let’s also realize that this could be your biggest opportunity to adapt your strategy to multiply your sales, generate repeat business, and better understand your target demographics and the viral sales impact of the holiday season.

Last year, Emarsys worked with our clients to identify, in the research phase and the post-purchase phase of the customer lifecycle, one key question: “Who are you buying for?”.

By asking this one simple question, a UK client was able to identify that, for a large percentage of their customer database, their customers were seeking gift ideas for other people.

By asking their customers in the run up to the holidays, they were able to discover who each customer was looking to buy gifts for. All this required was a simple banner ad, incentivized with entry into a prize draw.

Fifty percent of the people clicking on links filled out the form, and tens of thousands of people gave the name, date of birth, and their relationship to the people they were buying for.

This golden opportunity also presents remarketing opportunities for birthday reminder campaigns to generate repeat sales from these gifters.

The Solution

For new customers buying from the website during the holiday period, a simple post-purchase email campaign or banner linking to a landing page can help you understand whether you’ve just acquired a customer or a gifter.

This opens up a whole, vast array of post-purchase engagement options to enhance the perception of your brand and your customer service. These options range from advising the gifter about return policies, to product education, the importance of warranty registration on electrical goods, and offering gift packaging services or ancillary products to boost revenues.

It also means you can understand the impact on your post-holiday campaign metrics when it comes to remarketing, retargeting, and reengagement with ‘lapsed’ customers when you know they’re not likely to purchase again until Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Christmas. The messaging and tone of your campaigns needs to reflect that these customers are buying for other people.

Final Thoughts

Without asking that one simple question, many brands fall into the trap of adding huge database and revenue growth without understanding their customers or the end consumer of their products.

So, this holiday season make sure you remember to ask: “Who are you buying for?”