Having worked in an industry that depends so heavily on the holiday season, I have grown to develop a love/hate relationship with the holidays. I love bundling up, baking holiday goodies, shopping for (and let’s be honest, receiving too) that perfect gift, spending quality time with friends and family, Christmas music (but please, not before Thanksgiving). The list goes on and on.
Even with all of these wonderful things, we all know how stressful this time of year can be. Work gets crazy busy and the first things to fall by the wayside are the ones I just mentioned. I know I can’t speak for everyone here, but despite the stress and madness of the season, I thrive off of this energy and still look forward to next year’s holiday season once it’s over.
Prior to working at PMG, I worked at a retail clothing store where I did in-store marketing and events. Although I have yet to work a full holiday season on the digital side of things, there are already a handful of differences that stick out between in-store and digital marketing during this busy time of year.
- Inventory — Physical inventory in-store during the holiday season is HUGE. It’s essential that you know what your best sellers will be and ensure that you have sufficient inventory to last you through Christmas Eve. Although we don’t deal with physical inventory on the digital side of things…in a way, we do. Specifically from a paid search stand point, it’s crucial that during the holiday shopping season you and your team identify these bestsellers as well and ensure that these products have ample coverage built out prior to launching.
- Planning – Planning for the holidays in the digital marketing space takes place much earlier than it does in-store. A lot of the big holiday trends and planning that we’re currently involved in on the digital side of things will eventually trickle down and be implemented at the store level come early November. Additionally, if you’re working for a large national or even international retailer, at the store level there is far more focus on the local customer and landscape during the planning period.
- Last Minute Shoppers – Lucky for us, all online retailers have a cutoff ship date. Once that date rolls around, things in our world slow down pretty significantly. In the world of in-store retail this is when things really get crazy. You have people frantically searching for this year’s bestseller at 9:59pm the night before Christmas Eve wondering why you’re all sold out. The vast majority of stores will capitalize on these types of shoppers and offer extended hours from Thanksgiving up until Christmas.
- Clientele – Perhaps one of the most obvious differences here would be the clients we deal with. On the digital side of things, we aren’t interacting directly with the consumer. While at times our clients might seem like they’re asking a lot, trust me, it could be worse…like a 50+ dad wandering into a women’s clothing store, frantically searching for last minute gifts for his teenage daughter.
So when you’re feeling super stressed with work during the holidays this year, just be glad you aren’t helping Clark W. Griswold pick out lingerie for Ellen. ‘Tis the season to be merry! (And if you don’t get this reference, I highly recommend checking out National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation this holiday season!)