As one of the biggest (if not the biggest) events in the retail calendar year, most brands would have been planning and ticking off their holiday season to-do list for months now.
But while you’ve probably spent the last quarter perfecting your marketing messages and visual displays, shop floor operations over the holiday period often tend to get sidelined.
Attracting customers in-store is, and should remain, a top priority, yet very few retailers have a clear understanding of the customer journey that takes place between the front door and the checkout till – causing them to miss out on selling and upselling opportunities.
Here’s how to boost sales by working alongside your in-store teams:
Prepare for multiple customer journeys
Consumers tend to view the holiday season in two different lights – some carefully research, consider and purchase their gifts well in advance, while for others, it’s a mad dash down to the shopping mall on Christmas Eve rushing from store to store.
That’s why retailers need to cater to multiple customer journeys.
For customers wanting to be inspired, informed or advised, position store associates with an in-depth understanding of a particular range of products or services close to where they’re displayed.
And make it easy for customers in a rush to quickly pick up and purchase products by placing best-selling items in an easy to reach part of the store and making the checkout process quick and painless.
To ensure everything goes off without a hitch, retailers need to utilise the latest in-store technology to enable customers to book appointments, eliminate long lines and better position store associates in the right places and at the right times.
Make your store a hub for expert knowledge
Despite the growing influence of customer review forums or online guides, consumers are still big on having access to in-store product knowledge and expertise.
According to a survey by 8×8, 79% of consumers say being able to engage with knowledgeable store associates is “important” or “very important”.
However, many retailers lack the resources to properly invest in training their store associates to be product or brand experts – resulting in a knowledge gap.
The big day might only be a few weeks away, but there is still time. Invest in your store associates by giving them training sessions, and consider pairing temporary or part-time workers up with more senior team members to share knowledge.
Even better, allow customers to book appointments with product or industry experts to receive advice and support. This way you can pair customers up with the most appropriate store associates as well as give your team a much better idea of their day-to-day schedule and reduce downtime.
Inspire shoppers with experiences that engage and convert
With online shopping the way it is, consumers no longer have to push their way through busy streets and visit crowded stores – they can simply make purchases online. However, many consumers still want the in-store shopping experience but without the stress.
To attract customers to store and engage them, consider hosting in-store experiences or events centred around the holiday season.
For instance, Hobbycraft have had huge success with its in-store events. The 100 store arts and craft retailer reported a like-for-like store sales increase of 7.1% over the six weeks leading to December 24, 2018, while online revenue climbed 28%.
In regards to in-store events, Hobbycraft’s Head of Marketing, Joel Pickering, says:
“This year alone  we’ve driven 100,000 people into stores through this experiential form of marketing. It’s quite a new thing for Hobbycraft. We’ve always done the occasional workshop, but by giving customers a really clear overall plan of what’s happening each week, making it really easy to book online and come down to the store, it’s becoming a thing.”
Get rid of in-store lines
While there may have been a time where customers were more than willing to wait in long lines before being served, they’re not anymore.
One of the biggest problems people have with waiting in lines is the lack of transparency – not knowing if your could be served in a matter of minutes or an hour or more is enough to make anyone mad (or walk out of the store and shop elsewhere).
By creating digital lines, where customers are informed of their position in the queue in real-time via SMS, email or visual TV screens, they are free to roam through your store or even leave and come back later. This approach can also be applied to your click and collect desk, which in most cases can be replaced with a simple kiosk.
By establishing digital queues, you also have the option of capturing data and tracking performance, allowing your to adjust your internal resources, such as better understanding when and where to position your store associates.
Ensure you have enough stock
There’s nothing worse than visiting a store and searching for a product only to find it’s out of stock – and modern consumers have very little patience for it.
This is precisely why technology such as Big Data and blockchain have made their way into retail spheres – to more accurately predict stock and measure demand.
Retailers can avoid stockouts through establishing stock level alerts, setting up accurate reporting and tweaking the stock ordering process to ensure orders arrive promptly. It’s also well worth displaying available stock in specific stores on your company website, so consumers can pick up products from a store they know has what they’re looking for.
The holiday period can be stressful for a number of different reasons, but it’s also one of the best times to establish powerful relationships with consumers that last all year round, so ensuring your customer experience is superior on multiple fronts is well worth the added stress.
For more information about how Qudini helps retailers improve their in-store experiences, visit our solutions page.