The New Holiday Retail Planning Guide.

Here’s how to prepare for the 2021 peak shopping landscape.


By all accounts, the 2020 holiday shopping season made history. Digital sales skyrocketed by 50%, year over year. Spending increased more than £210 billion compared to 2019. And retailers that offered even the simplest of shopping options – like click and collect – grew nearly twice as fast as those that didn’t.

In 2021, as vaccination campaigns accelerate in the U.K. and worldwide, consumers will increasingly return to shops and engage with brands that sponsor live events. At the same time, retailers will need to re-engage digital consumers with customer experiences tailored to individual preferences, and implement creative fulfilment strategies that avoid problems related to delivery and out-of-stock inventory.

This holiday retail planning guide will help you navigate a season unlike any other. With new tips and strategies from leading industry experts, data-rich insights, and a finger on the pulse of changing consumer behaviours, the guide has everything you need to plan for the 2021 peak shopping season — from how to prepare for Black Friday ecommerce to delivering in-store moments that matter to festive shoppers.

CHAPTER 1: Re-engage digital shoppers with strategic messaging.

Grow your digital audience and build loyalty with customers.

Re-engaging customers who embraced online shopping in 2020 is critical. Fifty-eight percent of consumers expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before, and 88% expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives.

To build loyalty and continue to grow your audience on digital channels, and deliver successful holiday marketing, you need to know your audience. Here’s where to start.

58% of consumers expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before. “State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce, October 2020.

Listen to your shoppers.

Monitor consumer sentiment across social media, ecommerce and feedback channels. Use listening tools to analyse behaviour and shifts in demand on an ongoing basis. Partner with social media micro-influencers to authentically showcase your merchandise and bring your seasonal products to new, highly engaged audiences.

Build new audience segments.

From designer handbags to travel gear, shoppers are poised to spend on luxury goods in 2021. To capitalise on the moment, build segments around demographic information, purchase history and channel preferences. Test special offers, creative elements and content to see what resonates.

Choose your channels thoughtfully.

67% of customers prefer different channels depending on context, whether browsing, seeking advice or making purchases. Strategically engage your customers on the right digital channels and define your strategies for email, mobile and social media marketing, keeping in mind that last year’s pandemic-influenced performance may not accurately predict this year’s shopping activity. If you’re deploying new creative assets, use A/B testing to determine which approach drives more engagement. Automate holiday marketing journeys and employ AI to serve the right creative at the right time.
76% of customers prefer different channels depending on context. “State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce, October 2020.

Update your SEO strategy.

Gain deeper insights into search trends, emerging keywords and search intent by device, through open tools such as Google Trends and AnswerThePublic. In addition to typical Christmas, Cyber Monday and Black Friday-related searches, understand what people are searching for as they plan for travel and social events. Analyse these findings along with your top 50 terms from last year. Update your target keyword list accordingly.

Enhance your loyalty strategy.

Customer loyalty today is up for grabs as shoppers re-evaluate their brand relationships. Excelling at retail customer experience is key to success for the holiday season – and beyond. Today, 78% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand with a loyalty programme – and 91% say good customer service spurs repeat buying behaviours. Go beyond discounts and points to provide experiences that feel relevant and special to shoppers, including early access to new products and sales, exclusive events and upgraded delivery options.
78% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand with a loyalty programme. “Connected Shoppers Report, Third Edition,” Salesforce, 2019.

Reconsider your promotions.

Even though retailers expect a robust festive shopping season, getting the right item at the right price will always matter to shoppers. At the same time, don’t play ‘discount tag’ by continuously giving out discounts and coupons to the point that it doesn’t drive value for your brand. Instead, use artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver the best product sets based on shopper preferences and buying behaviours. In fact, shoppers who click on a personalised product recommendation have a 26% higher average order value. Try out alternative promotional and holiday marketing strategies like limited-edition merchandise and brand collaborations to generate buzz as well. As people re-enter their normal lives, showcase evening wear, travel accessories and luxury goods.

Unlock the rest of the guide to learn more.

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