3 tips to foster a robust in-store holiday season
By Ingrid Principe
As the holiday season gets into full swing it's time for the last push to ensure robust sales in what's viewed as a very positive sales opportunity this year. According to the National Retail Federation, sales in December are projected to rise 3.7 percent, bumping the total sales to be around $630.7 billion.
Yet, regardless of the positive projections, in-store retailers are still facing an uphill battle. From post-recession frugal shoppers, to the rise of online retailers, in-store retailers must stand out against the rest and take an active role to get shoppers through their doors this holiday season.
Focus on customer service
While both in-store and online retailers have their own advantages and disadvantages, there is one feature that brick-and-mortars have over their online counterparts — a personal connection. Unlike online shopping, where a customer has to reach out via email or telephone, in-store consumers have the option of face-to-face interaction.
So it’s time take advantage of this opportunity. To do this, make sure that all employees are well informed about all aspects of the business and can answer any shopper inquiries such as insight on the holiday-specific return policy. Can you get a gift receipt? Being able to answer these questions and more, while staying empathetic, patient and friendly, will create a memorable and positive shopping experience for the consumer.
Create a seamless shopping experience
From Yelp to Angie’s List to social media, today’s shoppers are big believers in sharing their experiences. So much so, that according to a report from Dimensional Research for Zendesk, 87 percent of customers admit to sharing their positive shopping experiences, and a whopping 95 percent share bad experiences. To create a positive experience for this season's shoppers, consider every aspect of the shopping experience. Is there enough room for an influx of holiday shoppers? Are there enough employees to give customer’s personal attention, if needed? Do you have a clear flow throughout the store? Are important sections of the store outfitted with clear signage?
While most retailers are aware of the influx of foot traffic during the holiday season, many will go without the proper preparation. To create efficiency, consider the customer journey. Though the beginning and the middle points of the shopping experience are important, retailers should pay special attention to the end phase — check-out. A smooth check-out can make a huge difference between a win or loss in the consumer’s mind.
What can retailers do to ensure a smooth and efficient check-out?
- Think about using an electronic queue management system. They can effectively help manage customer wait time by alerting consumers when an open register is available — using a fair "first come, first served" standard.
- Couple electronic queue management with in-queue merchandising to make the most use of your space — not only will you keep your lines moving, but it will keep customers entertained as they wait and boost incremental sales revenues.
So, as the holidays get closer, make sure to benefit from the NRF’s positive projections. Take an active role this holiday season and stay focused on what is important — customer service, efficiency and organization.
Ingrid Principe is head of U.S. marketing, Tensator Group.