EVOLUTION OF THE CHRISTMAS WARS

With Christmas approaching, and a more tech-savvy consumer base going shopping, traditional bricks-and-mortar stores are rethinking their approach to attract their holiday dollars.  They realize many consumers are shopping online due to money, time, and convenience.  Matt Townsend, with Sapna Maheshwari and Cotton Timberlake, write about the strategy these traditional stores are using (“The War Over Christmas” Bloomberg Businessweek 11/5/12–11/11/12, pp. 19–21).  Some of the specific tactics are:

1—Offering exclusive merchandise or brands not available online.

2—Exercising political pressure to require online retailers to collect sales tax.

3—Modifying the in-store bar codes on merchandise to make it more difficult for a smartphone user to compare an online price while shopping.

4—Offering in-store pickup and returns of their customers’ online purchases.

5—Hosting onsite celebrity, educational, and promotional events.

6—Adding additional bonus content to DVDs only available via the traditional stores.

7—Offering rewards programs driven strictly by onsite purchases.

Although so many things are much more convenient online, I admire the tenacity and creativity of the traditional retailers.  These ideas are excellent.

A very interesting observation is some of the ideas throw roadblocks at the customers while others throw them enticements.  What is especially good is the traditional stores are not just using the roadblocks.  Ideally, they are using more enticements than roadblocks.

Finally, I would only recommend a renewed effort to improve the onsite customer experience.  If customers feel totally wowed by their onsite customer experience, then that alone will do much to draw more dollars from the virtual stores to the traditional stores.  I see outstanding opportunities here for the traditional retailers to focus on treating every customer like royalty.  That will really make an impression and that builds customer loyalty.





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