Prime Day is July 12. The annual “Black Friday in July” sale was one of the most lucrative online sales day for Amazon last year, coming within 3% of its actual Black Friday sales numbers. It saw other retailers, like Walmart, jump on board and offer their own Black Friday in July sales. And even more retailers are expected to offer Prime Day sales this year.

Prime Day is the unofficial start to the holiday season, which gets earlier and earlier every year. And as your focus shifts to Q4 and the holidays, there are several strategies you must put in place.

2015 by the Numbers
Total holiday revenue increased 3% to $626.1 billion last year according to the NRF. Despite a 6.4% decline in in-store traffic, in-store sales had a slight revenue increase on 1.7%, fueled by omnichannel marketing and cross-channel engagement. Even though in-store sales had a small increase over 2014, it still accounted for about 85% of total holiday revenue.

Retailers took advantage of every opportunity to drive more customers to their stores, sending emails offering in-store only discounts or inviting customers to special events:

But one trend stood out from all of the others – Buy Online Pickup In Store.

One trend from 2015 that we expect to see even more of this year is BOPIS – Buy Online Pickup in Store – or the similar Buy Online Ship to Store and Buy Online Deliver From Store strategies. Nearly one-third of shoppers took advantage of BOPIS or BOSTS last year; and while picking up their items, 69% of shoppers made an additional purchase. More than half of all retailers offered this click-to-collect option, up 35% from 2014. Those numbers are expected to be even higher this year.

This strategy is the epitome of an omnichannel strategy as it seamlessly allows shoppers to move from your site to your transactional email and/or SMS alerts to your store in a single transaction.

Several things are needed in order to make this experience a seamless one.

  • Online and email local store locators.
  • Accurate store inventory and clear communication on timing and location of pickups.
  • Email / SMS notifications for both order confirmation and pickup notifications.
  • Store associate training on how to handle the merchandise purchased online, how to remove it from the store inventory, where to store it for easy pickup, etc.
  • If retailer is shipping items to a specific store for pickup or having the store deliver merchandise to customers, processes and training need to be created in order to handle this in an expedited and organized fashion.

Mobile and Social Drive Traffic to Stores
Mobile commerce was the big winner last holiday season with a whopping 59% increase in sales. But it is still a small percentage of total sales as it was only 18% of total digital revenue.

PSFK found that 76% of shoppers interact with a brand before ever setting foot inside a store, with the majority of those interactions happening on a mobile device. Shoppers spend 14% of their total time on their mobile devices in social networks, which definitely influence sales and in-store traffic.

Do your sites do enough to help shoppers find your stores? A simple store locator button on Facebook is a necessity, but many retailers have yet to put this in place. Another tactic to consider is allowing each local store to have its own Facebook page where customers can interact directly with associates and other local shoppers. It might be difficult to relinquish the control from the corporate office, but with training and guidelines in place, this will do wonders to create emotional bonds between customers and associates.

You can also offer the functionality of checking local store inventory of products shoppers find on Instagram, like Nordstrom does:

Your mobile shopping app should also let customers quickly locate local stores, check in-store inventory and provide important information, like where customers can pick up items they purchased online:

This holiday season will be led by personalization, outstanding shopping experiences, mobile devices and seamless omnichannel shopping. Are you ready?

We will soon publish our 2016 holiday strategy guide and we will relaunch our holiday insights center, which will offer even more advice on how you can engage shoppers across multiple channels. But if you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know!

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