Retailers would usually look upon the year-end with great anticipation. No one can blame them, as said season has generally been among the most profitable; with holiday spending in cash terms continually rising each year since 2011. Last-minute shopping accompanied by huge year-end sales have provided retailers with a steady stream of revenue throughout December.
However, 2020 has proven to be a challenging year. COVID-19 has thrown retail into disarray and there is really no telling how things will turn out at the end of this year. Many believe that e-commerce and delivery will be the true stars of 2020’s holiday season, but there are those that remain confident that physical retail still has a place.
Physical retailers are hoping that the holiday season will allow them to rebuild customer confidence, trust, and momentum. Being fully prepared to capture festive consumer enthusiasm can spell the difference between a game-changing sales season and a misfire. Here are a few considerations for retailers to act on immediately.
Secure seasonal staff early
Even with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19, people are still expected to celebrate the annual festivities that give them hope. As such, demand is expected to rise during this holiday season. Therefore, it is never too soon to ensure that you have a large enough workforce to manage these potential spikes in demand.
Seasonal workers can fill in the gaps when it comes to a wide range of back-end inventory jobs and provide extra help serving customers or bulking up call centre teams. Businesses will also need to ensure that their onboarding strategies are up to the task to quickly adapt the seasonal workforce to new roles and responsibilities; especially the rules and regulations to combat the pandemic.
Consider a ‘buy online, pick-up in store’ strategy
E-commerce and online delivery has seen a huge rise due to the pandemic. With likely limitations on the number of shoppers allowed in store this year, physical stores can expect decreased foot traffic and sales over the festive period. However, that doesn’t mean the physical store is obsolete. Creative businesses will find a way to use their physical locations during the festive period.
Some customers may not want to bother with delivery times and costs. Allowing customers to opt-in to a ‘buy online, pick-up in store’ (BOPIS) service can help reduce lost sales and will improve customer satisfaction. However, a poorly planned BOPIS is worse than none at all if it results in bad customer experience, so take every step possible to make picking up orders as easy and efficient as possible.
Ensure fulfilment centres can meet demand
A surge in online orders is to be expected for the holiday season. Businesses must anticipate this increased demand or risk exerting too much pressure on workers. It will be important to identify the impact on retailers’ warehouses and fulfilment. With efficiency and accuracy being paramount to timely shipping, it will be critical to optimise your warehouse as much as possible. Consider investing in warehouse management software to help increase automation and accuracy.