Peak season is just around the corner!

Have you thought about how you’re going to manage peak season traffic this winter?

New best practice guide

Our new best practice guide explains how Appointment Booking Landing pages will drive traffic to your in-store and virtual appointment services.

Latest consumer survey report

Our latest consumer survey report shows which types of retail stores and banks customers want to be able to schedule appointments within…

Recent consumer survey report

Our recent consumer survey report shows how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits and which habits will be here to stay…

Upcoming Webinar

Our Upcoming Webinar will present consumer insights on how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits. Sign-up below for Tuesday October 12th (2pm ET | 11am PT).

14 Ways to Prepare Your Retail Business for the Holiday Season

by Sam Osbourne

Cue the inevitable Game of Thrones reference… Winter is coming! With the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time for retailers to enhance their services and better manage peak traffic. 

If you want to see some record-breaking sales figures in Q4, you can start by making sure all your systems are up to date and high performing. After all, having excellent operations is key to retail success. 

Keep reading to find out what our retail experts advise enterprise and small business owners do to drive holiday sales in 2022. 

 

Why should retailers prepare for the holiday season?

It’s true that retailers naturally see higher sales during the holiday shopping season without making significant changes to their stores. Yet, what many don’t realize is that they’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. By enhancing their services ahead of the holiday rush, retailers may see dramatically greater returns and record-breaking sales figures. 

Here are some more reasons to strategize ahead of peak season:

When does holiday shopping season start?

Typically, the retail holiday shopping season starts in October and ends in January.

However, Christmas really is coming early this year.  According to a recent Salesforce survey, 37% of Americans plan to buy gifts earlier this year due to rising inflation.

In fact, 25% of consumers have either already started holiday season shopping or will do so by the end of September. Another 25% will begin shopping in October and 40% will start their peak season shopping in November and December.

 

Essential Holiday Shopping Statistics for 2022

Here are five key statistics you should know ahead of peak season:

Essentially, it’s up to retailers to create compelling, engaging experiences that make customers actually want to visit and return to the store. 

 

How to prepare for the holiday shopping season

Here’s how to effectively manage customers this holiday season and hit your Q4 targets:

 

1. Allow customers to join a virtual queue

Winter is well and truly on its way and retailers need to be realistic about the knock-on effect it will have on footfall figures. Will your customers really be willing to wait outside your stores in the rain or snow? Will the customers that make it past your front doors be in the buying mood after waiting in the wind and rain?

International brands are tackling this problem by investing in Virtual Wait Line software and Time-Slot Scheduling software system.

A Virtual Queuing System eliminates the need for physical queues by allowing customers wanting to enter a virtual queue.

 

How it works

 

2. Hire extra staff 

To help with the Christmas rush, it’s always wise to hire some seasonal staff. They can help to reduce waiting lines and ensure customers who are looking for staff don’t have to walk far to get the support they need. 

Generally, you should start recruiting new staff between September and October to get ready for the holiday influx. 

 

3. Create gift guides

Do you spend hours thinking of a gift for a family member before running out of ideas and picking a different retailer? Your customers do too. 

Fortunately, with comprehensive gift guides, you can help consumers to find the perfect gift. You can have gift guides for students, children’s, parents, partners, colleagues and more. 

You don’t even have to worry about the costs–post your guide online if you’re close to your peak season budget. Consider reaching out to local business associations to see if they’ll promote your guides for free. 

 

4.  Promote your products and services via social media

You might not have time to schedule social media posts during peak season so it’s always best to plan ahead. Draft up posts featuring seasonal products and even peak season services. Don’t forget how popular social media live streams can be for drumming up business. 

As a rule of thumb, aim to post at least once a day from November 1st and post even more frequently in the fortnight leading up to Christmas.

 

5. Build captivating shop window displays

With great, festive window displays, you’ll entice tentative window shoppers to enter your stores–and even fill them with some holiday cheer. 

The more fun, bright and eye-catching you make your window displays, the better. Remember, you’re trying to wow passersby and convince them that they should be in your stores. 

You can even shout out to your in-store Retail Choreography services so that consumers know they can join a virtual queue or book an appointment. 

 

6. Enable customers to book a time-slot to enter stores

Another approach many retailers are taking is allowing customers to book appointments to enter the store using an Appointment Scheduling app.

How it works

 

7. Set up data analytics

Another essential strategy to ensure you’re improving your holiday shopping season strategy every year is to ensure full data visibility. Invest in a Business Intelligence software that can help you to better understand foot traffic, service outcomes, stock levels and how many of your customers are loyal or new to your brand. 

 

8. Embrace omnichannel customer experiences

The importance of omnichannel retail has been well documented in recent years. Yet, many slow-to-adapt retailers are still lagging behind in the online colosseum. 

Bear in mind that shoppers are statistically more likely to recommend your services to friends and family if you have online and physical stores. The greater your customer offering, the better for all those involved.

 

9. Offer holiday promotions

Inflation is making the US consumer more money-conscious than in previous years. Your customers are planning to start shopping for the holidays earlier and to buy less.

With the right promotions–from discounts to gift wrapping deals–you can make your products irresistible. Perhaps you’ll even make your customers’ holiday wishes come true. 

 

10. Make sure to stock up

Do you know what your most popular products are? Have you got festive gifts that always fly off the shelves?

At risk of stating the obvious, you need to stock up on holiday inventory so that you’re never caught in a pinch and potentially missing sales. 

We recently discovered that 43.1% of Americans say unavailable stock is the top cause of their poor retail experience. By stocking up ahead of the peak season rush, you can stop stock issues from spoiling your customers’ experience in-store and online. 

 

11. Focus on SEO

Upping your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is one of the single greatest things you can do to draw in online traffic. By optimizing your website, you can make sure that you appear higher than your competitors in Google’s ranking. This will make your seasonal products much easier for your customers to find and boost your profitability. 

As Megan Krause, Content Manager for Vertical Measures explains, ““Product descriptions are one of the most underrated SEO tactics and have the power to convert buyers and drive targeted traffic to your website through organic search queries.”

 

How to boost your SEO ranking

Here’s four great ways to increase the SEO ranking for your retail brand:

 

12. Outcompete other brands with better delivery options

Time is everything, especially when last-minute holiday shoppers are concerned. Some customers can’t afford to wait for several days to receive an order. Consequently, they’ll take their money to a competitor who can deliver similar products faster than you. 

That’s why having competitive delivery options (like free shipping and next day delivery) can help you to acquire new business. 

If you have more than a few hundred orders per month, it’s worth outsourcing your warehouse and delivery operations to a logistics company. You’ll save money and your customers will get their orders quicker. Everyone’s a winner. 

 

13. Take advantage of chatbots and FAQs

Customers buy more products online every year. This can put strain onto your customer service team as they race to answer all incoming enquiries in a timely manner.

If you have a Chatbot, make sure you’ve given them the answers to routinely asked customer questions.  It’s also worth putting some popular questions and answers on a FAQ page to make it easier for customers to get the answers they need.

The more accessible information is on your website, the happier your customers will be and the less strain your customer service team will come under. 

14. Don’t forget post-holiday business

Retailers often make the mistake of putting all their efforts on the run up to Christmas. Well, what happens after? 

According to the National Retail Federation, underwhelmed Americans returned 17.8% of goods from all retailers last year. This equates to $158 billion worth of merchandise.

Unfortunate as this may be, it presents the perfect opportunity for retailers to keep up the holiday shopping momentum and get the edge on your competitors. Find interesting and unique ways to re-engage with your holiday customers to keep your post-holiday sales up.

 

Prepare for peak season with Qudini

Qudini has dedicated solutions to help international retailers and banks to manage holiday season traffic, including: In-Store Appointment Booking, Video Appointments, Walk-In Queue Management, Event Booking and Click and Collect Check-in.

Get in touch using the contact form below if you’d like a demo of our peak support solutions.  

 

Visit our peak support page 

 

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Peak season is just around the corner!

Have you thought about how you’re going to manage peak season traffic this winter?

New best practice guide

Our new best practice guide explains how Appointment Booking Landing pages will drive traffic to your in-store and virtual appointment services.

Latest consumer survey report

Our latest consumer survey report shows which types of retail stores and banks customers want to be able to schedule appointments within…

Recent consumer survey report

Our recent consumer survey report shows how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits and which habits will be here to stay…

Upcoming Webinar

Our Upcoming Webinar will present consumer insights on how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits. Sign-up below for Tuesday October 12th (2pm ET | 11am PT).