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Love is in the air, as people around the world prepare to display their affection to each other on Valentine’s Day. But what is the holiday truly about? The answer – to celebrate and fortify personal relationships – is obvious. But brands too can leverage Valentine’s Day and other important market moments to nurture their relationships with shoppers by building more personal and meaningful digital commerce experiences.

Technology is key to creating those relationships. We are witnessing it now with customers such as candy maker Ferrera, who leverages Emarsys customer engagement solutions to engage their customers and deliver a.... And, as we analyze our SAP Commerce Cloud consumption data, we’ve seen quite an uptick in both gross merchandise value and order volume in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. Also, major brands in the jewelry, luxury goods, and confectionary sectors saw increased sales between February 6-8, showing how critical these market moments are for the top and bottom-line growth of brands. So, what can brands do to make the most of them going forward? Here’s how I think brands can build stronger customer relationships by delivering digital commerce journeys that both meet and enhance the moment.

Test early. Break things fast. Learn even faster.

When I spoke with Carhartt earlier this year, they talked extensively about planning ahead and having a clear roadmap of what work they needed done to ensure a successful holiday season. One thing that stood out to me was how early they started this process. One anecdote as to why brands should start early comes from my experience as a brand manager at a major beauty company. There, I learned that while market moments are beyond important for selling products, it was equally important to work with my ecommerce team to ensure the right messaging, product assets, and product descriptions were on any site that sold our products – including our owned channels. It was also a great time to test new channels. At the time, I managed a few brands that sold into secondary channels, but also tested smaller bundled offerings on marketplaces like Amazon. This allowed me to set my business up for greater success when it came to the holiday season, when nearly 40% of my annual revenue was generated. Testing and learning earlier in the year will help inform you of the channels you should lean in to, as well as other activations that would work best for your brand.

Every transaction is a conversation with your shopper

Think of each transaction with a shopper as a personal conversation. Each one provides insight into what that shopper likes – or may like in the future – and what makes them tick. Brands should take advantage of data points collected from shoppers to inform the entire scope of the digital commerce journey: product recommendations, smart search results, shipping and payment preferences – even their propensity to return products. In addition, this data can be used to craft better targeted marketing campaigns, be they delivered through programmatic ads, social media, or e-mail. Take advantage of enterprise data to provide a better experience for shoppers without making them feeling like they are being spammed.

Weekly flyers don’t have to be “old school”

Some of you may be asking, “what’s a weekly flyer”? Before I age myself too much, they were a printed catalogue shoppers could bring into a retailer showing weekly deals for certain products. Sometimes they were also printed in the Sunday edition of newspapers. In the digital age they are hard to come by. But retailers haven’t forgotten about them, instead evolving and integrating them into their owned sites. Advertising now happens in real time, letting brands influence consumers during their purchasing journey as they search for products on marketplaces. Known as retail media, brands leverage this to deliver a stronger brand experience and more effective promotions and offers – allowing more targeted messages to consumers without chipping into profit margins. Retail media is a powerful tool for gathering additional data about your shoppers and how they shop, which can inform your team of what products shoppers are most interested in.

Logistics make or break the experience and, therefore, the relationship

Finally, brands need to think about the fulfillment of products to consumers, as well as potential returns. Shipping and returns costs for digital commerce businesses consistently cut into profit margins, and many brands are at somewhat of an impasse in finding a solution to the problem. Shoppers want to receive items sooner – no questions asked – and want the ability to return them freely with no penalty. As an avid shopper myself, I know this to be true, but as a professional, I also know this can be a profit killer. So, how can brands circumvent this situation? It’s simple, actually: ask, offer, and collect. Ask shoppers what they want. Some may not need expedited shipping, or may accept slower shipping in exchange for a special offer at a discount that costs your business less than expedition. Learn what they prefer, collect that data, and use it to make better shopping experiences for all.

These are only a few ways you can help nourish those coveted relationships with your shoppers and make them fall in love with your brand. It’s not one-size-fits-all, but if you plan early for important market moments and choose the right technology, you can set yourself up for success all year long.


Join us on LinkedIn Live for our CXUnplugged: CXUnplugged: Valentine, Shop & Dine on Thursday, Feb. 23rd at 2PM EST to learn more. 

Read more about my conversation with Carhartt and how they are approaching their commerce transformation.