A digital Christmas? Bah hashtag!

While Target in the US gears up for its “most digitally enabled (holiday) campaign in history”, many Australian merchants are saying ‘bah hashtag’ and playing down the importance of online.

According to the just released Deloitte Christmas Retailers’ Survey, more than half of retailers researched expect online sales this festive season to be two per cent or less of total revenue. Perhaps they are longing for the ghost of Christmas past when one of the only channel to market was bricks and mortar?

Even if retailers are correct that e-com sales will be a thin sliver of overall dollars through the till, they are missing the point. As Jonathan Rees from Deloitte Digital rightly points out, “whilst the overall percentage of online retail sales is under 10 per cent of all retail revenues… we now know that closer to 80 per cent of all sales are influenced by digital. We also know that a multi-channel shopper is likely to spend between 15 per cent to 20 per cent more than a consumer using a single channel”.

The key words for me in Rees’ comments are that “sales are influenced by digital”.

I first heard this concept from UK online retail guru, Ian Jindal, who told me “we need to move from considering the ‘channel of purchase’ to considering the ‘channels of influence’ and how to weave these into a persuasive and sustained narrative for our customers”.

That’s exactly how Target in the States is approaching the holiday season. Its entire campaign is brought together under the umbrella of #MyKindOfHoliday, led by TV ads, but integrating all forms of media with a concentration on digital.

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American publication, Advertising Age, reports that “Target is shifting substantial portions of its budget to mobile, social, email and display”, in order to be “more personal, relevant and timely” with its offers. No social media stone is being left unturned, with tailored messages in Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and traditional media referencing social media and vice versa.


Target is also using above the line media to drive traffic to Target.com, with 15 new deals every single day for a two week period around Cyber Monday (the Monday of the Thanksgiving weekend in the US).

If you’ve left it too late to plan a Christmas campaign with this kind of military precision and focus on digital, one thing you should be doing is to encourage customers to click and collect. Order online, and pick up instore.

I am convinced that this will be a click and collect Christmas, and of course, that’s where physical retailers can win over their online only counterparts.

The Deloitte survey forecasts “joy for retailers” this Christmas. For those who have a well thought through digital strategy, it will be an even more joyful time.

Jon Bird is chairman of specialist retail marketing agency IdeaWorks and Octomedia, publisher of Inside Retail. Email: [email protected] Blog: www.newretailblog.com Twitter: @thetweetailer

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