by Niina Majaniemi | HappyOrNot
Oh, the thrill of holiday shopping. For some it’s the best time of the year; Cheerful music, glittery ornaments, gifts to make loved one’s smile, hot cocoa and a cinnamon roll break. Others are already sweating from the thought of being in a crowded store with queues as long as the Eiffel tower, and not finding the toy that their kids want. With this, comes the responsibility for retailers to turn the scale to the positive side.
According to Statista, retail holiday sales in the USA are forecast to amount to 719.17 billion $ this year. With the Christmas season here, businesses are under pressure to deliver a great shopping experience and to convert the shopper haters into lovers. Here are five tips on how to achieve that:
1. Stretch for your customers and win their loyalty
Walker insights shared a not-to-do example in their podcast episode ‘CX horror stories’ with hosts Steve Walker and Pat Gibbons. A family with four kids were shopping at a discount retailer. After loading their kids and grocery bags to the car, they noticed a flat tire. “Luckily we are in the right place” they thought, as the retailer sold tires. So they walked back inside to ask for help, but the answer was an astonishing no. The store couldn’t find time to help a family of six who were in trouble and had just bought loads of items from the store. Understandably, the family did not go back to that retailer.
While stores do have policies, especially during the busy season employees should be empowered to make exceptions when facing scenarios that threaten the customer experience. Smart retailers pre-approve overtime in cases like this. It’s extremely important to engage with customers emotionally, and let them feel the warm Christmas spirit with positive customer service.
2. Make shopping easy for the customer
Many people shop last minute before Christmas, not knowing what to buy. As a retailer, try to make shopping easy for customers. A quick example: many people dislike gift wrapping, so may choose to shop at a store that offers free wrapping.
An experienced store manager from a big department store recommends that stores offer gift packages, such as mascara and makeup remover being added in a beauty bag is a great sell each season. Also, providing training to staff to be educated on the shopper trends – like what typical questions shoppers will ask (and how to answer) – is a great way to empower them to best and most efficiently provide great customer service that makes shoppers feel good about their experiences with the brand.
3. Attraction is the key
How do retailers get customers to choose their store when spending their big holiday bucks? Holiday promotions are a great way. While someone may typically not watch out for coupons, during Christmas time when much larger purchases are planned and the desire to have a one-stop-shop, people will be more apt to buy a larger amount of purchases if a store offers discounts. There is a lot of business to be made with campaigns and door-buster sales during Christmas, and really great ones will attract customers who may otherwise just buy normal priced items.
Tell shoppers about upcoming sales well in advance through email and social media campaigns. Create a sense of urgency by letting shoppers know when a trendy product of gift package is about to sell out and share sneak peaks of upcoming discounts to build anticipation. This is also the time to come up with attractive loyalty discounts.
4. Prepare your store for increased and specific demand
It’s quite possible that, to a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than a store that advertises a special deal and that’s sold out in-store by 10 am. When advertising, ensure that there is sufficient stock to please more than a handful of people, and at a minimum also consider having replacement options available. The holiday season is the time to take the lessons and learn from them, not to survive and forget. Analyze what customers want and when, and you will be ready with proper strategies to tackle surprises. When you have behavioural data it will help you react better and faster, resulting in satisfied customers.
Also, make sure your website is ready for an increase in visitor traffic, especially in the week leading up to Christmas and if last minute super deals will be offered. In 2017, online sales in retail were up 18.1% compared to 2016, according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse, and one of the reasons cited was last-minute shipping options that many websites put on offer. This year, online shoppers in China shattered last year’s record of $24 billion in sales on the country’s annual buying frenzy the “singles day”.
It is also good to remember that customers today are not just buying a product, they are building a connection with the brand. Empower your staff to match these needs by proper training and information sharing.
5. Happy staff leads to happy customers
Though the focus on Christmas shopping is to ensure happy shoppers, don´t forget to ensure staff are happy, too. If employees don’t feel satisfied in their work, it will certainly affect the quality of customer service. Try to make the working conditions as good as possible for the people working during the Christmas period. As a manager, lead with a positive attitude and empathy; understand that customers are often frustrated and quick to lash out on sales people as stores are busier, so give staff support so that they have the strength to smile through any challenging situations.
Let’s ensure that customers in retail keep the jolly holiday spirit! For more tips, download “The Ultimate Retailer’s Checklist: 5 Secrets to Happier Customers” and learn how to turn your retail customers into brand advocates.