Don’t be afraid to embrace the new ‘vampire economy’

Don’t be afraid to embrace the new ‘vampire economy’
Saima Alibhai is Practice Manager - Professional Services at Bronto Software. She has over 10 years of experience in the marketing technology industry, working alongside clients internationally in the UK, Europe and Latin America. She has helped leading brands, including Sony Europe, Vivienne Westwood, Nine West, French Connection, Walmart and Abril Media Group to optimise their digital marketing strategies.


Another Halloween may have been and gone, but it seems that the UK population is still rife with vampires – vampire shoppers, that is. According to Barclaycard, there is a growing ‘Vampire Economy,’ as one in three Brits now spend more money shopping online at night, compared to five years ago. The evolution of technological devices has given consumers the flexibility to browse and purchase wherever they are, at the tap of a button, 24 hours a day. In the 24/7 information age, waiting until morning isn’t necessary. Four in ten nocturnal shoppers reported buying clothes, jewellery and shoes in the middle of the night, with two in ten ordering food online.  

For eCommerce retailers, this presents a valuable opportunity to drive significant revenue and deliver stand-out customer service to meet consumers’ needs outside of the traditional shopping hours. With this ‘Vampire Economy’ expected to grow, how can marketers leverage this trend and ensure their commerce strategies tap into the consumer desire for late-night purchases?

Segment data to send targeted late-night offers

Night-time shoppers are now spending an average of a little over two hours browsing each week. It’s an exciting prospect for brands, but understanding exactly when customers are online is critical to their success. Tracking browse and transaction data is the first step to singling out the night-owl shoppers and establishing when and what they are browsing. Segmenting data based on the time customers are browsing enables brands to send email at the optimal time. Sending an offer at 3 a.m. to a consumer who usually browses and shops online between 9-10 p.m. isn’t going to drive significant engagement or deliver ROI. And it makes the brand look out of touch with that individual.

Customer data also holds clues as to why someone is part of the nocturnal shopping culture, which smart brands can leverage to drive sales. Does a customer always buy on a certain day? Are they always shopping at a specific time? If their behaviour can be easily determined by analytics, that’s great. For example: They always shop when your inventories update on Tuesday. But marketers shouldn’t be afraid to ask them questions. Why are they shopping now? Are they looking for anything in particular? Perhaps they like a pair of boots they saw on a television show. The more information gleaned from consumers, the easier it is to personalise your marketing to reach them. If a brand can show it understands consumers’ needs, they are likely to remain more engaged.

Capitalise on interest driven by TV shows

Consumers often watch TV and shop online at the same time. So it’s not surprising that an increasing number of online purchases are being made during popular TV shows. Take advantage of these moments to create a compelling event to engage consumers and capitalise on the hype around a particular programme. Whether it’s sending an email offer for kitchenware to customers after an episode of The Great British Bake Off or activewear recommendations for those who might feel inspired during Strictly Come Dancing, these types of messages not only make the retailer look relevant, but are more likely to encourage a sale. As with other actions, though, you must understand the customer and have the tools in place to react quickly and catch consumers at the right moment.

Create convenience

There are a variety of reasons for late-night purchases, but for many, it’s an immediate need for an item that prompts a nocturnal online shopping spree. Retail brands should determine whether they  can address the need and set themselves apart from the competition. Depending on the time, the products and the campaign, there are a number of delivery options that might encourage consumers to purchase.

For example,  Amazon continues to focus on customer convenience with initiatives such as one-hour delivery. But the high street is catching on. House of Fraser and Next are two examples of omnichannel retailers focusing efforts on providing convenient and speedy product collection. Next, in particular, is increasingly catering to nocturnal shoppers by offering free next-day ‘click and collect’ in store for online orders placed before midnight.

Retailers should be finding ways to follow in these footsteps by creating a convenient commerce experience for customers and ensure they know about it. Remind consumers browsing after dark of your fast delivery options to remove a potential hurdle to purchase. Make it convenient enough, and you build good will and loyalty, major factors that drive potential repeat purchases.

Both humans and technology are evolving to drive the ‘Vampire Economy.’ It presents an exciting opportunity for retail brands to drive significant revenue growth, but only if they can successfully engage the customer. Whether someone shops at 3 a.m. or 3 p.m., the experience must be of a high quality and relevant to the individual. 

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