January: The most wonderful time of the year

Posted in Retail
By Taylor Longfield on January 6, 2016

Young woman paying in a shop

The holidays can be a time when shoppers make one purchase and disappear forever, or if the retailer is lucky, the buyer will return next year. Even though the holidays are considered the most wonderful time of the year retailers can look to January as their magical season.

The new year is a fresh start and the perfect time for retailers to reduce churn rate and transform one-time holiday shoppers into year long supporters. In-store traffic is most likely going to increase. Consumers will be returning holiday items, $284B worth of product, using new gift cards and shopping for that one item they didn’t receive. Creating in-store experiences will help to build brand loyalty and can help convert returns into exchanges for even bigger sales.  

Returning items is always a hassle. Alleviating stress during the return process can increase positive brand recognition and consumer loyalty. An appointment based system shortens lines, and a store associate can assist with answering questions and finding item replacements. Not only will appointments increase revenue with up-selling but will make shoppers come back.  

In-store traffic in January is also likely to increase thanks to gift cards. To some, they may seem impersonal and a last minute buy, but survey results have shown that 79% of Canadians wanted an open loop gift card this holiday. Having a sale in January might seem unnecessary after having huge Boxing Day discounts, but everyone loves a good deal, especially when a gift card can make a dollar go further.

Increasing revenue potential is not just an in store opportunity. Online shoppers can also be converted into year long customers. Just because customers buy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, does not mean they should be forgotten. First-time buyers on these days spend 12% more during the year. Consistently offering exclusive and unique rewards (not everyone wants a coupon), being accessible on mobile, and offering special sales and promotions will keep customers buying. Combining loyalty programs and promotions are the keys to winning over shoppers.

Loyalty programs are on the rise in Canada. Compared to a 2013 census, retail loyalty members have increased 12% and account for 48% of all Canadian memberships. Over 62 million people are subscribed to retail loyalty accounts in Canada. The best programs combine simplicity and accessibility with providing great rewards/benefits. Companies that have proven to be successful with their loyalty program include Sephora with Beauty Insider allowing members to receive a free birthday gift and Canadian Tire’s mobile app that alerts shoppers when a product they want goes on sale.  

January is an opportunity for retailers to capture new shoppers and convert one-time buyers into brand ambassadors. In-store traffic is likely to increase with returns and gift card users, and online customers are waiting to be drawn in to buy the next thing. After snowy holidays, retailers can now look ahead to a green January.