Customer Engagement: Transforming Holiday Retail Strategy

Customer Engagement: Transforming Holiday Retail Strategy

The Gist

  • Early shopping surge. Customer engagement during the holiday season begins earlier, with 50% of US consumers starting in October.
  • Emotion matters. Emotional connections, not just discounts, significantly enhance customer engagement and loyalty.
  • Optimizing operations. Efficient operations, like inventory management, are crucial for driving engagement and reducing costs.

Here’s a staggering statistic for all the procrastinators out there — 50% of US consumers began their holiday shopping in October this year (Statista). For some, that seems perfectly normal. And for others, that’s mind-boggling when we are still consumed with candy bars and costumes.

It’s likely so many consumers are spreading out holiday purchases due to current inflation rates — now at 3.2% but down from 6.5% just last year. (US Inflation Calculator) While some conjecture that many consumers are “inflation wary” and thus are spreading out their holiday spend, others like Deloitte predict that holiday spirit and spending will be back to pre-pandemic levels. The catch? Brands must give consumers a reason to engage. That is, they must drive “engagement value.”

But what is engagement value, how is it defined? And more importantly, how do you drive this engagement value for a consumer who has concerns about not only inflation, but other cultural, social, economic and geopolitical happenings? Customer engagement can be a daunting task. 

Engagement value is defined as:

A way of measuring how consumer interactions drive business goals.

Driving Customer Engagement Value

So how do retailers in 2023 drive engagement value for consumers? For me, it goes back to the concept of providing a truly immersive customer experience. This means retailers must go beyond surface-level transactional interactions and immerse the customer in a relational experience that creates a trusted, emotional connection during moments that matter. Creating this type of experience, and then measuring the outcome of that experience with business metrics (customer satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, customer lifetime value scores, etc.), is the best way to drive retailers’ business goals — maximizing profit and revenues while driving and fostering long term customer loyalty.

How to Do It

So, how is it done? While there are many aspects, I want to focus on the top three big bucket areas: context, emotion and operations. All of these must be present to drive engagement value this holiday season. 


The old saying of “right product, right price, right time” is certainly table stakes for context. And it’s still very true in 2023 — especially given many retailers still struggle with the adage. But to be truly contextual, it’s a great idea to layer on additional capabilities beyond just “personalization” to provide differentiation. These include but are not limited to:

  • Free shipping
  • Guaranteed product quality (Warranties)
  • Available customer reviews
  • Price matches and guarantees
  • Widened return windows

A few additional considerations when it comes to providing context.

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