How to Make the Most of This Year’s Peak Retail Season. (It’s Coming Sooner Than You Think!)


Every year we notice holiday displays in ‘brick-and-mortar’ stores starting earlier and earlier. We’ve hardly made it through Thanksgiving before we begin to see and hear Christmas and New Year promotions.  A recent Forbes survey found that 66 percent of respondents planned to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. At Qubit, we've also been monitoring this phenomenon, and in our most recent internal research across our retail brand customer base[1], we found that the peak of the retail shopping season has indeed been starting earlier every year, widening the window between early October and January. While Black Friday continues to be a significant opportunity, Cyber Monday is growing in popularity and also represents a chance to win over customers who initially visited on Black Friday. We also saw that later in December, there's another mini-peak with Christmas shipping cutoffs as shoppers scramble to get last minute gifts. After the holiday, the week following Christmas, December 26 through 29, is a key browsing period. The trend continues into January with post-holiday sales.

Even though brands have more time to reach shoppers, customer acquisition costs are constantly increasing. Giving away high-value offers to compete during events such as Black Friday is eating into margins further. That’s in part because retailers lose out on a lot of the traffic they worked so hard to get. According to Qubit's latest research, visitor traffic on Black Friday is nearly split in half with 46 percent new visitors and 54 percent returning customers.[2]

What percentage of people who purchase on Black Friday buy again, you might ask?  Of the traffic that does get acquired, approximately 3 percent to 4 percent convert, but you will never see nearly 75 percent of those who converted again.  The net revenue of these customers is probably negative, especially in fast fashion. But there is a silver lining: of those 25 percent of customers who converted and then returned...

●       17 percent purchased again before the end of Cyber Monday

●       60 percent purchased again before Christmas Day

●       74 percent purchased again by the end of January Sales

So, what can retailers do to make the most of the season? Here are some quick tips to make the most of your peak shoppers:

  • Zero in on last year’s visitors: Start by creating a visitor segment of your customers from Black Friday last year. With customer segmentation, you can ensure you give your most valuable offers to the customers most likely to become loyal.

  • Get personal: Create personalized messages and campaigns to this segment to get that second, third and fourth purchase.

  • Not all visits are equal: How you define success matters. Consider closely the net revenue for customers rather than just getting them through the door.

  • Review and repeat: Follow this same communication strategy for the customers that you convert in the current season, making improvements and changes as you glean more data.

With a focus on segmentation, personalization and net revenue, retailers can make the most of the visitors that convert in the peak season. Keep in mind that the entire window between early November and January has opportunities to recapture and convert when crafting promotional strategies so you don’t lose your entire budget fighting for eyeballs on Black Friday. Don’t overlook those eyes you’ve already won over in the previous year either, they just may be waiting to hear from you.

Alex Olivier is Technical Product Manager at Qubit, which provides marketing personalization technology to many of the world's top retail brands, particularly those in fashion, beauty, and luxury, among other sectors.    


[1] 2017: Qubit Retail Customer Cohort; Previous: Qubit Historical Trend (Representative of 2014-2016 averages)

[2] 2017: Qubit Retail Customer Cohort (Sampled)

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