Promotion Strategies for a Boosted EOY | Gina Yuter

Welcome to the Retail Rundown, your go-to weekly podcast where RETHINK Retail teams up with industry experts to discuss the news, trends, and big ideas that are redefining commerce.

The countdown to Black Friday has officially commenced! And with shoppers starting earlier than ever, retailers are having to get creative with their BFCM promotions. In this episode, guest Gina Yuter joins host Julia Raymond Hare to discuss personalization and merchandising strategies for the holiday/EOY season.

Gina is a Partnership Manager at Syte, a leading product discovery platform for e-commerce. She has been active in the eCommerce industry for the past 5 years, focusing primarily on business development and partnership-building.

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Hosted by Julia Raymond Hare
Written and produced by Gabriella Bock
Edited by Trenton Waller

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond Hare:
Hello and welcome to the Retail Rundown podcast. I’m your host, Julia Raymond Hare and joining me today is my guest, Gina Yuter. Gina is a partnership manager at Syte. Syte is a leading product discovery platform for eCommerce and she’s been active in the eCommerce industry for the past five years, focusing primarily on business development and partnership building. Gina, so great to have you on the show today.

Gina Yuter: 
Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored to be here on your show.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Thank you. And it’s an exciting time. The holidays are approaching, the countdown to Black Friday has begun, and many consumers are already well into their holiday shopping. We spoke with the National Retail Federation or NRF last week and they told us many shoppers have been hunting down deals early, some as early as September. And that doesn’t mean Black Friday and Cyber Monday won’t get in on any of the action this year. Although, how much still remains to be seen. The prediction from NRF is about 2 million more people than last year will shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And with shoppers starting earlier than ever, retailers are getting creative with their Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. One that our editor called out was Aldi. So Aldi is debuting a digital charcuterie shopping service where you create your charcuterie appetizer platter alongside the advice, virtual advice, from a panel of seven charcuterie experts. And Gina, I don’t know what it takes to become a charcuterie expert.

Julia Raymond Hare:
But it sounds enticing. So, I mean, shout out to Aldi. I think that it’s pretty cool. Are there any holiday promotions that you have seen that have stuck out or what is your general sense as we’re going into the season?

Gina Yuter:
Yeah. Well, firstly, that Aldi idea sounds really creative, so kudos to them. Sounds very cool. So yeah, there are many innovative ideas out there. I’d actually really like take some examples from what we’ve recently seen around Singles’ Day in Southeast Asia this year, which happened about a week or so ago, because they are really big similarities between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles’ Day as well. So the really cool campaign, the first one that we saw was live streaming as retail [inaudible 00:02:21]. So this was actually done by a few brands. Alibaba did the See Now, Buy Now campaign that actually allows viewers to purchase products they see on the runway in real time. And the second one was Valentino. They actually hosted a live fashion show and promoted limited… Sorry, limited edition products and gifts, while this live fashion show was happening. So that was pretty cool.

Gina Yuter:
The second one that I’ll mention is brands that are actually using sophisticated AI technology that helps eliminate UX friction. So for example, Alibaba allowed customers to use voice command to order their purchases, and they also have a 3D avatar experience. So it’s this unique interface with the 3D avatar that actually helps consumers make their purchasing decisions by virtually trying on clothes and jewelry. So just to maybe sum up what we’re seeing from Singles’ Day, I think in my opinion, is really a view into the future of how sales days can actually happen online. Maybe we’ll see some of these cool strategies being used for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, really going beyond discounts to provide a different sales experience, way more of an event and way more engaging for consumers.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely. And Gina, you gave some really good examples from Alibaba to Valentino and it made me think a little bit deeper because voice shopping was a huge topic a few years ago. Everyone was like, “Oh, this could be the new thing.” And it turned out it wasn’t. I think a lot of it had to do with just the visual nature of humans. It’s hard to shop with your voice without seeing something, but combining that and being able to talk to your device, whatever it may be, and tell it you want to order something while you’re seeing it, while you have the avatar virtually trying it on for you, that is really exceptional.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah. Really cutting out all those additional steps that someone has to do, like putting in their credit card information or going through that checkout process. So yeah, it could really streamline the situation.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Those are some great examples. What are some strategies from the visual merchandising side that you think retailers can use to stand out? I mean, it’s really competitive out there.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah. I think, when it comes to strategy, there’s no one size fits all strategy when it comes to your shoppers. Retailers really should be looking at being able to engage with their consumers through all avenues. With their retailers, they really need to know who their customers are and how they consume information, because obviously today consumers are consuming information through many different types of digital platforms, be it social media or email, or even on a website. So really imperative that each of those channels are used in the most optimal way for all these different types of shoppers. So keeping that in mind, in terms of promotional campaigns, we’ve actually seen some really successful Black Friday marketing campaigns using visual strategies really, and it’s about how to keep customers on their toes.

Gina Yuter:
So really about building anticipation for new product launches and getting customers excited about really big savings. So some of the ways we’ve seen this being done is sneak peaks, [inaudible 00:05:45] products on social media, teases on your website to keep top of mind and even countdown timers that you see on websites. Another big trend we’ve actually seen is curated gift guides. So it’s not actually a new idea, but there’s a new trend taking over, which is about people or retailers moving onto TikTok with their curated gift guides through influencers. And I think that’s also a great reminder that the sort of product discovery is now happening in many different places and many different ways. So in this lead up to Black Friday, brands need to think about how to give new life to existing ideas, kind of like they’ve done with this curated gift guide.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And Gina, those are great for our retailers listening just to get back to the basics in some ways with using countdown timers and the gift guides. But like you said, the gift guides and product discoveries happening on different platforms. And I think it’s a lot more compelling than it’s ever been when you see an influencer or even someone random when you’re scrolling through Reels or you’re scrolling through TikTok and you see a really cool product. Actually, I saw one the other day and it was from Walmart and it was someone promoting this pajama set that was very soft and fuzzy and they were like, “You have to have this. I wish you could feel this.” They just really hype it up and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, it’s only $17.” It’s a whole new world out there. So I think TikTok is definitely a good one. I mean, who says how long it will be the rating platform for that type of content, but for this season, I think that’s a really great point.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah. I think also, especially because a lot of new shoppers are also from the gen Z group and gen Z live on TikTok. So it’s definitely a way to reach that new type of target market that’s coming up into purchasing power.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely. And some of the big-box stores over here, including Target and Walmart, I know Target started its holiday season with what it was calling its Best Deals Event on Halloween actually. So October 31st through the holiday season, they’re releasing new pretty big sales across major categories every Sunday, which is something a little bit earlier for them. Although, we were talking about this before we hopped on that some of them are actually chartering their own containerships because of the crazy prices and lack of control. So that’s huge. I was very surprised to hear that retailers are chartering their own containerships. It’s got to be an outrageous cost, but I think that hats off to all the retailers who are really trying to get the goods to us this season.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah, for sure.

Julia Raymond Hare:
What are your thoughts on social selling? We actually interviewed a handful of our retail influencers and social selling was the topic that came up I think the most. Supply chain and social selling. Do you think we’ll see a greater role of influencers this holiday season or how do you think influencers is evolving?

Gina Yuter: 
Yeah. So I definitely think that we’ll see a greater role from influencers the season, especially as I just mentioned. We have more of the Gen Z group, so they’re very active on these social media platforms and they’re following so many people very easily by big names out there. But as I mentioned before as well, we’re starting to see these traditional Black Friday promotions, like these curated gift guides, take on this new form on social. So it’s really difficult to create these unique Black Friday campaigns. It’s really an art, especially as consumers are bombarded during this time with promotional campaigns. So I think one of the key strategies that brands should be considering is creating a truly cross-platform experience, including your role of influencers that really has something for each of your shoppers, no matter how or where they consume their social content.

Gina Yuter:
So last year we saw a really great example from PrettyLittleThing. They actually executed a full blown cross-platform experience, combining cash giveaways, promotions and vouchers, influencers, and really capturing shopping engagement for days across their Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook platforms.

Gina Yuter:
And I really do think, as you mentioned before, that social selling is really become a big thing. And I think it’s becoming the norm and I think a lot of brands have actually picked up on that. I think the ones that are doing it really well have embraced authenticity as their content strategy. So this means working with micro-influencers who maybe don’t promote just any product, because this way you really are reaching a target audience through a more trusted and credible source, which is refreshing in a world of constant banners and overproduced influencer content. At the end of the day, people just want to see people like them. They want to see relatable content and they want to see things that they can actually connect to.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Things that they can actually connect to and really honing in on authenticity, that’s huge. Personally, I think I did get… I got got recently with an influencer. I’ve followed her for probably, I don’t know, a year now and they almost seem like you know them because you’re watching their stories all the time and she went on and on about Brooklinen. Have you heard of Brooklinen?

Gina Yuter:
I haven’t actually.

Julia Raymond Hare:
They’re pretty established now, but they do linen. So towels and sheets for your bed. She was going on and on about how fluffy and amazing these towels were and I’ve actually seen their advertisements before. So it’s the marketing concept of once you see it enough times you finally become a buyer and I did, and I love them. So if anyone’s listening, this is just my honest review, Brooklinen towels are amazing. And so that’s going to be some of my holiday gifting this year, but I really liked what you’re talking about out with having it be a cross-platform experience. And I think that’s hard to do. I think it takes a lot of planning in advance and during… We’re still in wonky times with the pandemic. So to be able to plan really far ahead and have everything connected and curated is a tough thing to do.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah. I think it’s important, like I mentioned before, to really know who your customers are and where they are consuming that information. Really keeping a pulse on what interests them and when to reach out to them. I think that really helps the brands that are doing it well to really connect with their customers in that authentic way.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And we’ve covered a lot of promotions. You came with a ton of really great examples that are happening now. I love when guests bring examples and share that with our listeners, and I think it will help us spark some new ideas, but I want to turn a little bit to the experience and what are some dos and don’ts of merchandising during the end of year/holiday season?

Gina Yuter:
Okay. Well, in terms of dos for merchandising, as a general rule of thumb all year round, you really want to ensure that you are showing the right product to the right customer at the right time. So now looking at the holiday season or end of year season, it should be even more so that during this time, you want to ensure that customers are coming to your website and you’re giving them your best first impression to them. You’re seeing tons of new customers.

Gina Yuter:
You want to make sure that you are providing them with the best experience. On Black Friday especially, shoppers tend to have a budget in mind. They know the list of sites and retailers that they want to visit. So you’re also dealing with a tighter time limitation than usual and you want to ensure that customers can actually discover the right products on your website as quick and intuitively as possible. So some dos, I would say the first one is to try and give your highest converting items the most visibility on your product listing pages, as well as your search results. So new customers that are coming onto your site can see your best sellers upfront.

Gina Yuter:
The second thing is investing in searchandising software to group and rank products in a way that will help you meet your business goals and delight your customers as well. So for example, alongside your best sellers, you can recommend items that aren’t purchased as often, or that have only recently been introduced onto your site. So you can create those bundles that can appeal to shoppers.

Gina Yuter:
And finally, and I think this is actually quite important is Black Friday is a prime time for out of stock notices on your website, which can be really disappointing for customers, especially if they only discover that an item is sold out when they click through to your product display page. So you want to provide tools, like visual search, that can allow shoppers to click through on their PDP page and actually find similar items that could be in stock that might interest them.

Gina Yuter:
Maybe to touch on some don’ts, I would say don’t ignore live data and information that you’re collecting from your shoppers. The holiday period is long enough for you to do course correction and to optimize your site. And the second thing is, don’t rely just on sales to win over your shoppers. Personalization is key. So personalizing those recommended deals can really ensure higher conversion and higher revenue.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Excellent points, Gina. Thank you for sharing those. Don’t ignore the live data. That’s a good one. I haven’t heard that one as much, but your point was that the holiday season is long enough and you said you can course correct during that time because of that, and I think that’s a big one to keep in mind.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah, for sure. I guess we were just mentioning that people and retailers are already selling and putting sales out from as early as September. So there really is time to look at what’s working for you, what’s not working for you, and to try and make those adjustments if possible.

Julia Raymond Hare: 
Mm-hmm (affirmative). That and I would add, you said some good things about having those out of stock notices pretty direct for your consumers to see, and then recommend other things that might still fit the bill that are similar. And I think being really communicative about the shipping is very important. I think that was something that last year retailers did a good job of picking up and being able to have those services, whether it’s third party or not, where you get those notifications and you can track your package because a lot of people are used to that now and they really want to know where it is, even if it’s going to be late.

Gina Yuter: 
Yeah. Some retailers are even going deeper than that and they’re actually only showing you items that can be delivered within your region. So that can also help. Yeah.

Julia Raymond Hare: 
Wow. That’s a good one and I’m sure that takes a level of sophistication that some retailers might not be ready to invest in, but I think that’s where we’re headed is that the consumer just gets all the information.

Gina Yuter:
Yeah. And you’re trying to make that shopping experience as personalized as possible to that shopper.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Gina, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Again, she is the partnership manager at Syte. Gina, if our listeners wanted to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to reach you?

Gina Yuter: 
But firstly, thank you for having me. It was great to chat and have such an informative conversation. The best way for people to reach me can be either on LinkedIn or they can contact me via email. So my email is Gina.Y. So G-I-N-A.Y@syte, S-Y-T-E, -vc.com.

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