Why Data Matters This Holiday Season

Author: Danielle Drolet

October 4, 2018

Focus on the holiday season is apparent, but incorporating the data you've collected year-round will likely make it more actionable. George Gallate, principal at MKTG2.U, board director of Elite SEM and former global chairman of Havas Worldwide Digital spoke with eMarketer's Danielle Drolet about how retailers can leverage the data they've collected throughout the year for an effective holiday customer experience.

eMarketer: We’re predicting strong ecommerce sales this holiday shopping season (16.2% gains). What's driving growth?

George Gallate: There's a slightly longer holiday period, but there are a few more drivers. 

One is the substantial adoption of mobile commerce among consumers. In addition, the advancing and improved understanding of the use of data and technology by retailers—it's the combination of both. And the third, is the meteoric rise of Amazon.

eMarketer: How can retailers keep up with Amazon?

Gallate: Regardless of whether you're a big-box retailer or a small business—or avoiding Amazon all together—you need an Amazon strategy.

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For any company, whether that be a reseller or the brand itself, it’s critical to be proactive, and adopt and implement an Amazon strategy. They should use an omnichannel approach to ensure that the customer experience is best when dealing directly with the brand. To do that, they need to have an understanding and extensive use of data and technology to ensure that the customer experience is delivered in every touch point as opposed to only in brick-and-mortar.

Data is the competitive differentiator. If you know your customer or client better than your competitors, and you’re able to react in real time or close to it, make an offer based on their past behavior and activate at the appropriate time.

eMarketer: Retailers should be looking at their data beyond the holiday season, then. 

Gallate: That's an interesting point. I advise my retail clients that it's not just about a cycle of planning for the holidays. To be effective, it's a 365-days-a-year, seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day exercise. It’s not a 60- or a 90-day checklist. It's about what you’ve been doing within your overall marketing and retail strategy for the whole year—and all that data you’ve collected. Then, you can activate higher level brand-based advertising to attract clicks of interest and retarget. For instance, build your customer or prospect database for your email. Email is still critical for the holidays.

eMarketer: What should retailers zero in on this season?

Gallate: Mobile is the physical connection to the digital world. It's with you all the time. The ability for brands or retailers to have a compelling and integrated mobile strategy is going to be critical this holiday.

The second thing will be delivery. It’s going to be a bigger issue than it has been in previous seasons simply because customers are used to guaranteed two-day delivery. As we get closer to Christmas, that will be more difficult to get right. And the ones that don't get it right have done long-term brand damage. It’s important to have the systems in place to get as close as possible to a flawless execution of delivery. 

Seeking additional holiday insights from retail experts? Click here to sign up for eMarketer's Holiday Shopping Interview Roundup 2018 to learn what retail thought leaders are saying about this upcoming season.