Holiday Q&A Series:
Multichannel Retail


How Retailers Can Successfully Navigate the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season


Suffice it to say that 2020 has been the year of the unexpected, and retailers are preparing for a holiday season unlike any other. From the persistent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to economic turbulence and announcements that many major retailers will close their doors to Thanksgiving Day shoppers, there is no shortage of uncertainty surrounding the holiday shopping blitz.

The good news is that retailers are implementing several strategies to successfully navigate the coming months and beyond.

We spoke with Wiland’s resident retail expert Jeff Liebrock—Division Vice President heading up Wiland’s consumer merchandise and direct-to-consumer retail team—to ask him how retailers can prepare today for a successful 2020 holiday shopping season.


How do you expect the 2020 holiday season will be different for most retailers?

“It’s obvious that retailers are up against some serious headwinds this season. First, with numerous retail bankruptcies and general consumer caution leading to less discretionary spend, it’s a tough environment overall. Second, the pandemic has changed how consumers shop. Even if restrictions loosen ahead of the holidays—and I don’t expect them to—that doesn’t mean consumer behavior will immediately return to what it was before. Many simply won’t feel comfortable shopping in-store and continue to prefer the safety of shopping online from home.

So retailers need to be prepared for this major e-commerce push during the holidays. Curbside pick-up and buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS) will also be big. But the rapid rise of e-commerce will be the true standout of the season. Will it make up for all the brick-and-mortar revenue being lost? No, but it’s been an overall trend we’ve been seeing for years that the pandemic just accelerated.”

How are you seeing retailers adapting their advertising strategies?

“I’m seeing brands focus on where consumers are and reaching them on their terms. That means more digital advertising, more advertising on streaming platforms, more SMS and text advertising, and even more direct mail promotions to reach people spending more time at home. Many marketing budgets have been reallocated from channels like broadcast television—although some of that is returning as live sports broadcasts have returned. I’ve been impressed by how quickly brands are adapting their advertising strategies. They’re paying attention to their customers—what they’re buying and what they want—and they’re making immediate moves to accommodate and capitalize.”

What else can retailers be doing now to successfully navigate the holidays?

“Continuing to promote in the most intelligent way possible is hugely important. We’ve seen brands that have continued to smartly target their marketing weathering the storm and faring much better than others that simply maintained the status quo, or who pulled back completely. Leveraging data to understand customers better, inform marketing efforts, and promote more strategically during this downturn will keep brands’ messages in front of the right consumers.”

What are some ways that retailers are working with Wiland specifically to prepare for the holidays?

“There are consumers out there who are spending, and we’re helping brands reach the ones uniquely ready to buy from them now. We’re still driving great results for our clients, many of whom are growing despite this tough environment. Our brand-unique audiences are custom-created using the most consumer spending data and the best predictive analytics, so we can efficiently and effectively connect brands with their best shoppers. We’re also using this data in our business intelligence solutions that help brands make the most informed strategic marketing decisions. Smartly leveraging data like ours is how brands will make it through this downturn, and we’re ready to help them succeed.”

Any closing advice you’d give to retailers on how they can continue to adapt to achieve success this holiday season?

“Many retailers don’t realize how much data is available to them to inform and drive their marketing. Connect with a data partner like Wiland that can help you explore this data and uncover immediate growth opportunities. The more data you use to drive your decisions, the better success you can have.”

Headshot of Jeff Liebrock

About Jeff

With over 20 years of marketing industry experience, Jeff Liebrock is the Division Vice President of Wiland’s consumer merchandise and direct-to-consumer retail team. A University of Arizona alumnus, Jeff began his marketing career with several large brand advertising agencies before turning to the overwhelming need to integrate data and analytics to create successful marketing campaigns. Today, Jeff partners with clients and enterprise teams to drive growth through creative, data-driven marketing solutions.

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