3 Omnichannel Tech Tips for the Holiday Retail Season
Retailers have made their holiday lists — and checked them twice. With the holiday shopping season in full swing, retailers need to review their strategies and leverage technology to make this holiday season as successful as possible, both in terms of sales and omnichannel customer experience.
Even on what are traditionally the biggest in-store shopping days of the year, like Black Friday, more Americans are choosing to shop online. Here are three omnichannel technology tips for retailers this holiday season:
1. Integrate salespeople online. During the holidays, retailers should provide customers with the service they need in-store and online. This all starts with integrating sales associates into the online shopping experience
Eighty-seven percent of shoppers say their in-store purchase decisions are influenced by store associates. In contrast, more than half of shoppers feel that service is lacking online. Retailers should implement technology that replicates the in-store experience and allows consumers to shop online with their local store associate. This includes giving sales associates their own version of the retailer’s e-commerce site so they can make product recommendations, personalize shopping experiences and provide expert advice in real time.
2. Differentiate your online service offering. Shoppers are turning to retailers’ websites during the holiday season to research products before they make a purchase decision, a practice commonly referred to as webrooming. This is why it’s critical for retailers to integrate omnichannel features into their websites, like “reserve in store,” “pick up in-store” or “book an appointment” with an associate.
By giving consumers the option to supplement their online shopping experience with an in-store visit, retailers are truly catering to the omnichannel path to purchase of today’s shopper. This type of awareness of how consumers want to shop — and providing that experience — leads to increased customer loyalty and more frequent sales.
3. Test your site … again and again! With all this talk on how to set up e-commerce sites to ensure a great customer experience, retailers need to make sure their websites are set up on the back end to handle extreme volumes of traffic during the holidays. In recent years, popular retailers like Best Buy and Target have fallen victim to site outages that crippled their websites and forced customers to shop the competition.
Generally, the reason why sites crash is because of bad web infrastructure, which retailers fail to notice ahead of time. Load and performance tests, which put increased demand on a system to measure its response, must be done consistently throughout the holiday shopping season. Additionally, retailers should conduct capacity tests to ensure their point-of-sale system can handle a maximum number of transactions. Even if the first few tests go well, retesting is a must, especially if retailers are launching new campaigns or deals. While this testing (and retesting) may take up the IT department’s time, it’s critical to keep the bottom line healthy. In years past, 39 percent of e-tailers claimed they lost money due to performance or stability problems.
These last-minute tech tips are what we see clients implementing for a successful holiday retail season. Retail technology is evolving, and those retailers that keep on the pulse of new strategies will earn the loyalty of shoppers not just through the holidays, but also into the coming year.
Oscar Sachs is the CEO and co-founder of Salesfloor, the first platform to allow customers to shop online directly with their local store or favorite associate, bringing the in-store experience online.