All families have been challenged to get through this pandemic and these were holidays that sadly were part of the early months of COVID-19. With that in mind, retailers are hoping to see incremental gains for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

If ever there was a year where shoppers should go the extra mile on gifting, 2021 would have to top the list. The months ahead include some of the most important holidays outside of the fourth quarter. All families have been challenged to get through this pandemic and these were holidays that sadly were part of the early months of COVID-19. With that in mind, retailers are hoping to see incremental gains for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. And of course, there’s always graduation. In a pandemic world where many students have been in class virtually for all or some part of the year, going over the top is well deserved.

A quick look back at 2020 sales certainly will peak our attention. According to National Retail Federation, total 2020 holiday sales were as follows:

  • Mother’s Day: $26.7 billion
  • Father’s Day: $17 billion
  • Graduations: $5.1 billion

Here are 10 tips to best take advantage of these holidays

1. Refresh Gift Centers

Bloomingdales was an early bird sending out an email announcing its new gift center on April 5, 2021. Its “Let’s hear it for moms” theme jumpstarts the destination. From there, best gifts, gift cards and an option to chat with a stylist make for a robust one-stop location that accommodates digital and in-store opportunities.

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2. Be unique and exclusive in the products you show

There is nowhere better to look than Etsy when it comes to finding unique products. Over the fourth quarter holiday period, 20% of surveyed shoppers suggested that exclusive products were a factor in choosing retailers based on findings from the Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights 2020 Post-Holiday survey of 1,137 online shoppers.

3. Test a series of tactics

Merchandising captures the attention of gift-givers and Omaha Steaks makes “Finding a Perfect Gift” efficient. Its segmentation includes value gifts, top gifts and exquisite gifts to guide shoppers to the best choices.

4. Integrate gift finders into the gifting experience

Gift finders are an excellent tool for directing shoppers. Working like a search engine, shoppers can put in multiple parameters to help narrow their choices. For 1-800-Flowers.com, that includes delivery zip code, occasion and desired arrival date. Its Birthday collection reminds all of us that gifting is a year-round proposition.

5. Be sure you are in stock on key items

If there is one lesson we’ve all learned, it is that having product in stock is critical to success. 59% of online shoppers surveyed in Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights Post-Holiday survey of 1,137 online shoppers reported that having the right products in stock was second most important to them, behind only free shipping when choosing retailers.  For today’s customer, if your items are out-of-stock, you are out of consideration.

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6. Highlight an array of full-price and promotional opportunities

39% of online shoppers surveyed in our Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights Post-Holiday survey of 1,137 online shoppers indicate that they only buy from retailers that offer free shipping. Godiva offers free shipping on its best-selling signature chocolate box as a sweet inspiration for its shoppers. No matter the season, promotions can be both onsite and via email. And while we are talking promotions, this same survey suggests that 28% indicated that they now only purchase from retailers that have the lowest price and 26% of those say they will never pay full price. This means promotions need to hit the mark or shoppers may bypass your site and head straight to a competitor.

Technology always ranks high on the list of gifts for grads. Last year, my daughter took advantage of a summer 2020 college offer and received a few perks including air pods and savings on Apple support. Its trade-in program entitled her to an extra gift card which she promptly cashed in. These types of bundling offers can have broad appeal for tech shoppers and beyond.

7. Shift marketing strategies to meet your customers where they are

It is wise to remember what retailers told us in 2020’s Digital Marketing survey based on 105 retailers. Email continues to be most effective with social media gaining ground. At the same time, embrace social media and influencers, particularly if you target a younger audience.

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Anthropologie’s April 14, 2021, email hits home with a theme suggesting shoppers seek out their handpicked gifts for mom. They have made it more enticing with free shipping at a threshold of $50 to seal the deal.

8. Promote digital gifting for sustainability and time-savings

Selecting gifts can be fraught with uncertainty as it is difficult to know if sizes, colors, and overall selection will be right for one’s recipient. When it comes to gifts, shoppers who are focused on the environment may be in a unique position to impact the issues they care about. David Yurman leverages GiftNow’s technology to accomplish just that. The buyer makes the purchase, and the recipient receives their gift digitally ensuring the selection is right for them before the products are shipped.

This facilitates a unique opportunity to minimize the shipments of unwanted packages and to avoid restocking of returned goods.

9. Revisit delivery capabilities

Shoppers remain focused on getting products delivered fast. Saving face may mean taking advantage of same-day delivery. It also means making omnichannel options available. Omnichannel convenience, particularly curbside, was readily embraced during the pandemic. These capabilities are smart business given the high shopper satisfaction rates seen among those who utilized with 77% of survey respondents scoring it an 8-10 on a 10-point scale. The customers have arrived and so has the service.

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10. Gift cards can always save the day

Last minute is always in fashion with procrastinators so position digital gift cards to save the day. And don’t forget to remind shoppers. In the spirit of giving, Dick’s Sporting Goods calls out both gift cards and egift cards in its footer, along with highlighting its rewards program, making it a win-win for gift-givers and recipients.

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