4 Ways Retailers Can Maximize Their Holiday Sales

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Retailers raked in an astounding $7.9 billion on Black Friday last year as more than 77 million Americans made in-store purchases. While online shopping is only getting more popular, brick-and-mortar stores are also expected to see added foot traffic this holiday season, especially from Millennials who now spend more money during the holidays than any other generation.

Younger consumers enjoy the in-person shopping experience and are largely loyal to brands when they get the right experience. However, they also expect better, faster, and more memorable service. This means retailers must ensure their in-store experience is in line with the heightened expectations of today’s consumers.

To prepare for the holiday rush and set the stage for a more prosperous 2019, here’s how retailers can exceed their customer expectations during the busiest sales season: 

1. Keep Employees Engaged

The holidays aren’t just a stressful time for shoppers. Over the next month, your front-line employees will have to deal with a barrage of customers. To ensure they’re properly engaged and ready to deliver on your company’s brand promise, make sure they have the right training to effectively do their jobs. After all, a lack of employee compliance with operational standards can hurt a retailer’s bottom line sales by as much as 90 percent.

Adopting metrics and incentives are excellent ways to encourage front-line staff to deliver on your brand promise. With today’s technology, retailers can set up performance measurements that dive deeper than district, region, or store location, and go right to the individual performance of employees.

With that information on hand, businesses can offer bonuses like store discounts or gift cards to help incentivize employee performance. This is particularly important with seasonal staff who may not be as engaged with your business. Making sure seasonal employees feel like part of the team is essential if you want them motivated to provide the top-notch customer service that holiday shoppers expect.   

2. Improve Your In-Store Environment 

While it sounds futuristic, many leading retailers are adopting Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and other devices to collect real-time contextual data such as store temperature, sound, and traffic. Everything impacts customer experience, and retailers can now leverage this data to analyze and predict customer purchasing behaviors, as well as overall customer satisfaction and experience. 

By using location sensors to analyze store conditions in real time, businesses can better identify missed sales opportunities and immediately make the necessary in-store improvements to deliver better customer experiences this holiday season.

3. Maximize Your Merchandise

One of the worst things that can happen during the holiday season is not being able to meet customer demand for a product. Putting the right data collection and analytics tools in place will ensure you always have your hottest-selling items in stock, and can help you determine when you need to move higher-volume stock to a different location to liquidate.

How you display your merchandise is also important for maximizing sales during the holiday season. Shelves should be checked every morning and periodically throughout the day to ensure their fully stocked and displayed neatly. If you’re responsible for multiple retail locations, new mobile technology can help you ensure merchandise has been set up correctly by requiring a photo of final display setups. Store displays that do not match guidelines can be flagged for follow-up so that everything is presented correctly when customers enter the store.

Finally, make sure in-store signage is clearly visible to attract customers and avoid sending them to a competitor. Placing signage along the customer's path will help them better navigate your store, increasing the chance they will be enticed to purchase.

4. Stage a Dry Run

During the busy holiday season, store managers and employees need to be ready for anything and armed with the right tools to deal with hectic situations. Best Buy prepares for the holidays by conducting dry runs to mimic the customer and employee experience. Staging a dry run will help your team visualize checkout lines, have a greater understanding of deals and promotions, and better inform shoppers of return policies on holiday purchases. Dry runs are also a great way to prepare for the unexpected when it comes to disgruntled customers and theft.

The holiday season creates unique challenges and opportunities for all retailers. With proper planning, preparations, and execution, it will be easier to keep customers happy and engaged and to continue to deliver the same level of services they’ve come to expect. But retailers cannot lose sight of the fact that regardless of how hectic a time of year it is, customers want a consistent and positive experience with their favorite retailers. Anything less can jeopardize their business in the new year.

Lindsay Sykes is director of marketing at Intouch Insight.

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