It’s November and most retailers have been planning for the holiday season for several months. As brick-and-mortar establishments continue to evolve to compete with online competitors, it’s critical that retailers focus on those consumers who still plan to do their holiday shopping in-store, and how they can provide them with an enjoyable experience that meets their needs so that they keep coming back.
In-Store Retail Isn't Dead
Natural Insight surveyed 800 randomly selected people across the U.S. aged 18 and older and found that in-store retail is not dead. Our 2017 Holiday Store Shopping Report found that 87 percent of people still intend to shop at brick-and-mortar retailers, indicating that physical locations will remain a cornerstone of the holiday season. Most will shop in early December, but 23 percent of respondents said they intend to shop before Thanksgiving. Only 12 percent of in-store shoppers expect to spend less than $100, meaning there’s a huge opportunity to drive revenue this holiday season by catering to this audience.
Why visit a store when online purchases can be made with a few clicks? Sixty percent of respondents stated that they prefer to see and touch the products they’re considering purchasing. Retailers can — and should — make this easy for them with kiosks, demo programs, tastings and samplings. Others responded that they like to browse for new gift ideas, while still others simply love the holiday ambiance, from the décor to the music and general holiday spirit.
Reducing Common Stressors
Now that we know to expect a great turnout, how can retailers enhance the in-store shopping experience? It comes down to taking the stress out of holiday shopping and creating an enjoyable experience. The survey found 58 percent listed large crowds as the No. 1 stress factor. Retailers can manage crowd control by expanding their hours of operation, adding more staff to help with checkout, and encouraging and rewarding customers who shop earlier in the season. Leverage the “Popular Times” feature on Google and visit duration to help shoppers plan ahead and avoid peak hours.
The second most common stressor for customers is not being able to find the products they're looking for. How can retailers help? Leverage signage to help customers navigate the store and make sure displays match your out-of-store promotions. Empower sales associates to engage with customers and lead them to their destination. Lastly, during the holidays retailers will want to keep shelves fully stocked and organized, as well as manage inventory closely.
When it comes to selecting the perfect gifts, many shoppers have difficulty. Fifty percent of 18-29 year olds reported this as a top stress inducer. Retailers can feature popular gift items and arm sales associates with information such as what to buy for mom, dad, colleagues, teachers, etc.
Surveys also help customers get personalized gift suggestions, so consider setting up a kiosk in-store or leveraging your mobile app. By allowing customers to receive a list of suggested gifts simply by answering a few questions, you can alleviate the stress that comes with trying to find the perfect presents for those on their list.
Use Retail Insights to Your Advantage
The most successful retailers will use every tool at their disposal to monitor holiday traffic, inventory and staffing needs to ensure they create a stress-free in-store holiday shopping experience for each and every guest. By understanding these key retail insights, you’ll keep customers coming back year after year.
Stefan Midford is the president and CEO of Natural Insight, an on-demand talent and retail task management platform designed to improve operational efficiency.
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