Countless factors can potentially influence overall sales and activity on the high street and seasonal trends are certainly not new. Retailers have been trying to make the most of them for years. But is it working?
Just look at the first few weeks of July and the culmination of both Wimbledon and the World Cup. According to Kantar, a combination of the warm weather and the hugely successful global football tournament spurred a 2.1% increase in grocery sales.
However, factors like good weather may not always lead to an increase in sales, and some items just don’t sell very well when it’s hot. For some retailers, the weather and sporting events may even be having a negative impact on sales as shoppers’ buying habits change. Retailers may find that shoppers are spending more on food and drink, but less on electronics or clothes, because it’s simply too hot to shop for anything other than the essentials that will get them through the hot weather.
Looking at the broader picture, while seasonal trends may work well for some retailers, how can they capitalise on them to ensure that they have a positive impact on sales?
It all comes down to having access to real-time data; data on what shoppers are buying, what they’ve bought in the past, and what’s likely to drive them to come back into store and spend more money.
It’s not always as simplified as capitalising on good weather. A summer heatwave means shoppers are likely to buy more ice cream, beer and BBQ food. But by using more in-depth data, retailers can deliver more intelligent, personalised offers to customers.
Looking back at Wimbledon, for example, it’s a predictable, annual sporting event. With the right data, retailers can plan their campaigns around the event, segment which customers are more likely to buy certain products (like strawberries, cream and Pimms) and direct promotions that will appeal to them specifically. Getting customers in-store with those offers is just one part of the journey; once in store, customers should be offered the most relevant offers, coupons and discounts to increase their loyalty to the retailer. These can be delivered at the point of sale, and will relate to what is in the basket or historical purchases. And so the cycle continues, and the customer feels valued with offers that are relevant to them.
It goes even deeper than that. Retailers don’t even need to just target individual shoppers. They can use seasonal data to apply promotions specific to geography (in the Wimbledon example, South West London), individual stores and even certain times of day. Again, this can be useful in getting customers into store in the first place through digital offers, for example, and then ensuring they return through personalised messages, offers and coupons delivered at the till.
Importantly, while real-time data is important to the success of capitalising on seasonal trends, so too is the technology that enables and supports those campaigns. This technology needs to be agile, quick to implement and easy to tweak once in place. It’s no good having a campaigns team taking weeks to come up with a promotion to take advantage of a sunny day. Offers like this need to be implemented quickly, and be able to be turned on within a matter of minutes to be truly effective, and whilst the sun is still shining. It’s not enough to have the data, there needs to be the means in place to make it work for the retailer to capitalise fully.
There is tremendous opportunity which is not just limited to capitalising on sporting events and hot days. Having the right data and right technology in place to complement and enable the process means retailers can be well placed to take advantage of any special occasion, weather change or ad hoc event in real-time.