3 things retailers need to know about the 2020 peak season

Published November 10, 2020

Make the most important time of the year count for you and your customers

Hopefully you’ve already put safety measures in place and are set to switch gears for what should be a fruitful holiday shopping season. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 27 percent of consumers started their shopping in October and retailers are planning for an extension, too, with 74 percent believing that consumers are going to spread it out over several months. That’s good news since, just like every year, the holiday season is always the most important time of the year for retailers—this year, even more so. 

And it’s time to get ready because proper planning can make all the difference in recouping lost revenue.  

Here are three key things to do this holiday season:

1. View your business from the lens of the shopper—from start to finish.

Do a physical walk-through. Become one of your customers. Walk into your store as though you’re seeing it for the first time thinking like a customer. As you approach the door, take a good hard look at everything. What’s it like to enter your store? Is there clear, visible signage on your doors with instructions about your safety protocols? Once you’re inside, pretend you’re looking for a particular item that you sell. Is it easy to find? How do your display cases look—are they attractive and showcase your more popular options?  

Then choose an item and go pay for it using a contactless payment. How was your transaction process? Ask your staff some questions that will challenge their knowledge, have them bag the item and hand it to you and then leave your store. You might be surprised by how much you learn when you become the customer. One last thing, it’s the holidays—how festive was your experience? 

Lean on some eye-popping technology. Nothing against an actual physical walk-though, but there are some technology-fueled solutions that can help you view your store as a shopper, too. Eye-tracking is essentially measuring a person’s gaze with eye tracking devices, so you don’t have to imagine what your customers are looking at in your store—the tracking devices will give you that insight. And you can take it a step further with 3D eye tracking.

2. Give shoppers multiple ways to shop.

Consider how your customers are currently making purchases keeping in mind that very likely the volume for each is going to increase, is each one prepared to handle that? 

In-store: Make sure your signage for social distancing is easy to see, but in a way that connects to your brand. For example, do you operate a novelty store chain that caters to shoppers’ more quirky side? Incorporate that into signs with a clever play on words or use of imagery that is unique to your brand. Then make it as easy as possible to navigate your store so people can get in and out quickly and easily (it isn’t going to be a lingering holiday shopping experience this year).  

Online: Ordering with their electronic devices has been on the rise for years and will very likely have a large uptick this holiday season. Take the time to ensure that your website’s browsing and searching is easy and intuitive and that the checkout process is efficient without glitches. Also, make those discounts you’re offering front and center.  

Curbside: For customers who don’t want to come inside, have a curbside plan in place—if you don’t have one already. That will include getting your staff trained and ready to serve a greater number of people outside of your store.  

A point-of-sale you can count on. Enabling all of the different ways your customers want to shop this holiday season isn’t going to be easy, but doing it all can be made simpler with some technology help. Your POS system, in particular, will likely need to do more this year, including taking contactless payments. And given social distancing mandates and the need to allow customers to get in and out of the store swiftly, you’ll need to depend on your POS system to stay live. Any outage would likely result in a bigger debacle than in years past. 

Read more: NCR Digital Connected Services is helps keep retailers online and outage-free

3. Be flexible.

This is an unprecedented time for you and your customers. Put a plan in place for the holidays that you can change quickly, if needed. 

Things that you may need to shift: 

  • Staffing, a few weeks into the holiday shopping season determine if you have too many employees or not enough 
  • Gauge which shopping preference (in-store, online, curbside) is the most popular and put more resources towards it 
  • Determine if your marketing strategy is working—are people using your advertised discounts and offers (are they bringing them to your store either in person, curbside or virtually?) 
  • Are you using social media to reach your customers effectively? If they’re not engaging with your various platforms, make some changes to up interactions 
  • Ask your customers and your employees how safe they feel in your store and address any of their concerns 

While this holiday season may not feel as light and merry as past seasons, that doesn’t mean it can’t be festive. On top of the three key tips already covered, take the opportunity to create customer experiences that’ll have a lasting impression. People are ready to come together and have something to celebrate so find creative ways to bring joy to your customers.  

Whether it’s in-store displays that delight children or warm gestures on your website for well wishes in the New Year—focus on the positive. Not only will you help boost your customers’ spirits, you can increase their loyalty and your bottom line.  

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