The Retailer’s Guide: The Top 5 Considerations for a Successful Holiday Season
Retailers face a challenging holiday season due to inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain issues. Customers will be more discerning as they shop for good deals. Retailers have an opportunity to set themselves apart by providing a seamless, omnichannel customer experience that supports shoppers online, in-store, at the curb — and everywhere in between.
These five tips will prepare you no matter where your customers and employees are stationed.
1. Get in the spirit now.
When the holiday sales surge hits, will your website be ready for increased traffic? Are employees prepared to staff the registers while keeping shelves stocked and tidy? Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers started their holiday preparations as early as October last year, driven by concerns about inflation and supply shortages.
Plan time for employees to get comfortable maximizing new technology to deliver top-notch customer service quickly and to generate a great employee experience which optimizes efficiency. Even if the holiday rush begins early, retailers with a head start will be ready when customers call.
2. Make it personal.
Customers are looking for a personalized experience and will reward retailers that can cater to their preferences. With the right contact center solutions, your team members can capture information from every customer touchpoint to personalize the interaction.
For instance, contact center employees can review prior conversations before helping a customer with a new inquiry or problem. They can also let customers know how close they are to qualifying for free shipping or review shopper behavior to suggest products that customers often purchase with similar tastes.
3. Manage expectations.
What shipping timeline expectations have you set for your customers? Not every enterprise has Amazon.com's resources to commit to fast shipping. According to a 2022 PwC Holiday Outlook Survey, consumers will prioritize stock availability over retailer loyalty.
Use integrated communications solutions to keep customers updated on their orders via emails, text messages, or contact center agents. When all this information is stored against a customer record, contact center agents have access to the latest info to answer questions quickly and keep customers informed and happy.
4. Make the most of existing assets.
Retailers should look for more ways to manage their supply chain creatively to ensure the hottest inventory is where it’s needed when it’s needed. Fulfillment as a service is emerging as a solution to reduce delivery times. For example, Best Buy has been converting some retail floorspace to warehousing space for fulfillment of online orders.
Providing employees with the technology they’re used to using in their personal lives to serve customers and solve problems at work will help keep them engaged. Mobile-first unified communications and collaboration solutions that take advantage of familiar apps and devices will make for an easy transition from everyday life to success in the workplace.
5. Smooth out the experience.
According to McKinsey, hybrid shopping (e.g., buy online, pick up in-store) is here to stay. Nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to continue to use hybrid shopping solutions. Retailers must take advantage of integrated communications solutions that ensure a seamless customer experience, even when moving from one channel to another.
Features like group and individual chats can make it easy for employees to quickly reach the right person for answers to questions or report situations. Connecting desk and cell phones with mobile twinning make it easy to contact anyone on the team by phone wherever they are.
Technology is helping dynamic businesses meet customer expectations and behaviors faster than ever. Retailers that prepare now can take advantage of modern unified communications and collaboration technology to stand out this holiday season and beyond.
Daren Finney is senior vice president of global channel sales at Mitel, a global market leader in business communications.