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Is Your Brand Prepared for the Holidays? Retail’s Top Considerations in 2019

The holidays have long been critical for retailers, but rules have also changed, in part due to market dynamics initially created by Amazon.

Connor Folley

What was once a 24-hour period of deals has turned into a five-day shopping blitz. Certainly brands have seen how Black Friday’s morphed into the aptly dubbed “Turkey Five” — a time period running from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday — where holiday shopping incentives are everywhere and anywhere you look.

The end of the year has long been critical for retailers, but the rules have also changed, in part due to the market dynamics initially created by Amazon. Today’s retail environment puts a greater emphasis on deals and promotions in the form of instant savings delivered to your mobile device. There’s a sense of urgency applied, but there’s no need to wait around at midnight anymore to check those gifts off of a list.

As all consumer brands and retailers keep adapting their holiday strategies to meet changing shopper preferences, it’s worth considering the following:

Automate the Weekend
Historically, the rush around holiday shopping has required brand advertisers to have all hands on deck throughout Turkey Five, tweaking and adjusting ad spend as necessary to stay out in front of deal-seeking eyeballs. A comprehensive automation strategy utilizes search advertising sponsored ads — both sponsored brands and sponsored products, all on Amazon, in particular.

Retargeting can also be done both within and outside of Amazon’s own site, with sponsored display ads that are dependent on consumer behavior. It's not a search offering in the classic sense, but run by Amazon and on a self-service console, it’ll drive adoption and make it easier to buy this inventory. It creates a more direct engagement between brands and Amazon than going through third-party DSPs. An automation partner can handle all of these transactions, and adjust throughout this critical period based on performance and the feedback the data provides.

Even Physical Stores Can’t Confine Things to 24 Hours
Ecommerce’s effect on consumers turns holiday shopping from a “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” novelty into a full five-day event, and that applies to brick-and-mortar locations, too. With deals flying at consumers for five straight days, physical retail stores are challenged to keep up. It may sound daunting, but Amazon’s success driving such a demand around the holiday shopping period has encouraged all retailers and brands to be more agile and thoughtful about how they interact with consumers on those days — in real-time, at the point of sale.

Is a rising tide lifting all boats? Perhaps. Amazon doesn’t always lead on price, so competitors can utilize this advantage to encourage their own traffic and overcome other areas where they may fall short. In kind, Amazon could be pushed to lower their own prices to keep up with the sort of discounts driving commerce elsewhere. Amazon owns these sort of ecommerce events, yes. But the residual effect drives increased interest and engagement for consumers all over.

Shorter Holiday, More Pressure
Making things even more complicated this year is the fact that Thanksgiving comes pretty late on the calendar: November 28. The shortened holiday shopping period puts the squeeze on consumers feeling increased pressure to get more done in less time. But the same can be said for retailers and brands, trying to maximize the end of the year to hit sales benchmarks.

It’s not a new dynamic since Thanksgiving does fall this late from time to time. But the compressed timeline and constantly changing advertising landscape does provide an advantage for brands willing and able to invest more in a short period to capitalize. That doesn’t just mean more cash, but a more competitive promotional deal and discount environment for everyone involved.

Discovering at the Point of Sale
Discoverability is always critical for ecommerce platforms, and even more so during these high-traffic periods. It’s said that being on the second page of search results is like being at the back of a store -- there’s just a significant traffic drop-off that takes you out of the consumer’s primary consideration set. So brands are investing in ad methods that put them closer to the point of sale.

In recent years, brands poured plenty of money into advertising with social media middlemen, hoping to land conversions from the high traffic numbers on those sites. That thinking has changed, however, as marketers have already made up their minds and dollars are moving rapidly to the point of sale where 70% of buying decisions occur. By doing so, brands interact with consumers with a high intent to purchase, and because you can get attribution back to the point of sale — the most demonstrable ROI for an advertisers’ dollar. Speaking to consumers at the bottom of the funnel, versus the top, ensures you’re the last message they hear before they make a purchase (increasing the likelihood of success).

Please request a demo today to learn more about how you can prepare for these keys dates with Downstream's powerful Amazon Advertising automation capabilities, like our new Advanced Budget Controls.

A portion of this post was first published on MediaPost, that article can be found here.

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