5 Things Retailers Can Do Now for A Successful Holiday Season

3 min read

October 13, 2022

Retailers face a challenging holiday season due to inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain issues. Customers will be more discerning as they shop around for good deals. Retailers can set themselves apart by providing a seamless, omnichannel customer experience that supports shoppers online, in-store, at the curb - and everywhere in between.

The right communications technology can help create the kind of customer and employee experience sure to have retailers ringing up sale after sale this holiday season. These five tips will prepare you no matter where your customers and employees are stationed.

1. Get in the spirit now

It may not be time to deck the halls just yet, but if 2021 is any indication, retailers should prepare for an extended holiday season. Nearly two-thirds of US consumers started their holiday preparations as early as October last year, driven by concerns about inflation and supply shortages. With supply chain disruptions, rising interest rates, and higher inflation on people’s minds, this year is likely to follow suit.

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? Plan time for employees to get comfortable maximizing new technology to deliver top-notch customer service quickly. Even if the holiday rush begins early, retailers with a head start will be ready when customers call.

2. Make it personal

The ability to personalize customer experiences has become more sophisticated thanks to capturing customer interactions. Today’s customers are accustomed to retailers anticipating and catering to their preferences. Cutting-edge retail applications in the metaverse will create even more opportunities to personalize the online shopping experience.

With the right contact center solutions, your team members can capture information from every customer touch point to personalize the interaction. Cloud computing enables AI and analytics to turn data into useful, actionable information. For instance, contact center employees can review prior conversations before helping a client with a new inquiry or problem, letting customers know how close they are to qualifying for free shipping, or reviewing shopper behavior to suggest products that customers often purchase with similar tastes.

3. Manage expectations

Eight in 10 retail executives believe consumers will prioritize stock availability over retailer loyalty when choosing where to shop, according to a 2021 Deloitte survey. What shipping timeline expectations have you set for your customers? Not every enterprise has Amazon’s resources to commit to fast shipping. Consider your capacity and prepare your customers for “fast enough” delivery you can fulfill dependably.

Retailers can use communications technology to keep customers updated on their orders via emails, text messages, and other channels. With the correct settings, retailers can automatically notify customers if a shipment is delayed, so they’re not left wondering where their package is. Additionally, 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

Creativity with supply chain solutions can help ensure the hottest inventory is where it’s needed when it’s needed. Retailers like Best Buy, with physical locations closer to consumers’ homes than warehouses, have been converting some retail floorspace to warehousing space for online orders. Smaller retailers may be able to do the same, creatively crafting fulfillment operations around available space and employees. Fulfillment as a service is an emerging solution to reduce delivery times. There may be startups in your area ready to step in to help bring goods to customers and even process returns.

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

Today’s customer wants and expects a seamless experience regardless of their communication method. More than one-third of Americans have started using “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPUS) and other hybrid modes of shopping as part of their regular shopping routine since the pandemic, according to McKinsey. Nearly two-thirds of those consumers plan to continue to do so. Customers can focus on finding that perfect gift with an integrated communications solution. At the same time, their information can be accessed by those serving them even when they move from one channel to another.

Effective omnichannel communications can also help retail employees streamline their interactions. 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.

Using communications technology to improve situational awareness across the entire team is empowering, and empowerment is key to a positive experience for employees and the customers they interact with. Keeping everyone connected will help all components of your business continuously optimize operations in real-time.

Technology is helping businesses meet customer expectations and behaviors faster than ever. Retailers that prepare now can take advantage of modern unified communications and collaboration technology and stand out when the holiday rush begins.

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