December 18, 2012 Leave a Comment
As we’ve reported for the past three weeks, results from the holiday season so far give merchants cause to be optimistic, with double-digit growth in revenue. Even better, success isn’t limited to national brands and mega-merchants; small and mid-sized retailers are holding their own, thanks to well-orchestrated campaigns and communications.
One strategy we’re highlighting as a means of competing with Amazon and other big brands is to communicate value — a concept that goes beyond prices to include service, brand reputation and uniqueness of products. Value topped the list of product and price factors that influence purchases, according to October’s MarketLive Consumer Shopping Survey, with 87% of survey participants saying it’s important — just ahead of product price alone, which 85% of participants said was a priority.
Now that the season is underway, merchants are successfully communicating value — and one key way they’re doing so is through the use of custom-created content. Specifically, this holiday season merchants are using content to:
Underscore the uniqueness of product offerings. In addition to providing comprehensive content on function, fit and usage, merchants are creating product stories to showcase unique attributes such as one-of-a-kind materials and craftsmanship. MarketLive merchant Cost Plus World Market showcases a section called “Global Holiday Treats & Traditions” that explains the history behind favorite holiday foods, such as the tidbit that fruitcake was once “outlawed throughout Europe for being ‘sinfully rich.’” (Who knew?) Links to related products beneath the descriptions make the connection from content to commerce.
Help shoppers find gifts attuned to their lifestyle. Buying guides authored by brand experts are nothing new, but this year merchants are going beyond the standard offerings of “shop by price” and “shop by recipient” to offer increasingly targeted and selective gift suggestions. These collections are part look book, part buying guide, and are often curated by an authoritative, and opinionated, personality. Outdoor merchant Moosejaw features a gift guide for “the eclectic and outdoorsy girl” on its blog, featuring picks from a staffer named Margo. The seven items are presented in a magazine-style layout, with callouts such as “love the faux fur and tribal pattern.”
Promote stellar service. Brands that offer personalized, responsive customer service stand out from the pack — and for the holidays, savvy merchants are showcasing service-oriented content alongside products and promotions. In addition to must-have information about shipping cutoff dates and return policies, merchants are promoting services such as gift wrap and personal shoppers. Apparel merchant J. Crew is promoting its “very personal stylist” service as part of its holiday gift guide, letting shoppers know free round-the-clock consultations are available via email and phone as well as in stores.
For more content ideas to implement now and in 2013, review coverage of our content webinar from earlier this year and download the related whitepaper. What content are you featuring this holiday season?