Your guide for getting stores and frontline staff ready to thrive—whatever the season.
The bulk of your annual business happens in a handful of days.
With so much riding on so few days,
you can't afford to leave success to
You need a foolproof strategy to
make sure your frontline is set up to
that can effectively
make or break
percent of annual
sales happen in
But you all know this. Whatever the season, holiday, big event or milestone, you've got a plan. The question is: is it good enough to win? Here are 5 strategies to help set you up for success.
Make a great first impression
In-store marketing and visual merchandising
From your windows and entrance table, to your end caps and queue areas, getting the right look and feel takes months of planning and keen attention to detail. A 2019 report by ServiceChannel found that 95% of consumers consider a store’s exterior appearance an important factor when deciding upon a place to shop, and more than half will avoid a store if the exterior appears to be poorly maintained. Holidays and seasonal events are a great chance to amp up your ambience and tap into your shoppers' state of mind.
Upping the “wow” factor of your windows with a distinct look and feel is a great start, but you can also use this real estate to
showcase products at multiple price points to entice customers. Many shoppers arrive in store with a dollar amount in mind. All it takes is the right item at the right price to catch their eye and motivate them to buy.
And remember, even though customers might be out shopping for someone else, it's not too hard to convince them to buy something for themselves at the same time. Amping up your windows and displays to draw shoppers in is a great way to open the door to upselling opportunities.
Drive up your
Average Daily Transactions
Strategically place 'appeal to everyone' items within 10 feet of the door to catch your customers' attention and influence their purchasing decision. Price point is key here. Use a table display or tower to stock smaller, affordable items and set an appealing pricing strategy (like buy 2 get 1 free, or 3 for $10). These items should have wide appeal and be easy to restock throughout the day.
Beyond the entry offer, make sure your end caps include curated assortments that tie back to the look and feel of the windows, but expand to showcase other related options. Remember to use in-store signage to clearly communicate price. And don’t forget the captive audience you have in your checkout lines. You can drive up units sold by showcasing products (like the season's hottest style or must-have item) they can easily add to their cart while they wait to pay.
Make impulse buys
Putting staff favorites or add-on
items at the cash and placing gift
cards strategically throughout
the store can drive impulse buys
or capture sales from a customer
who didn’t find what they
were looking for.
There’s nothing more disappointing than going to a store to buy something, only to find it's out of stock. This can happen at the best of times. Now add in the pressures of specific shopping events and you have the potential to create the kind of negative customer experience that lingers—and costs you in the long run.
It turns out as many as 1-in-3 retail shopping trips result in out-of-stocks, costing North American retailers $144.9 billion. There are a couple of key things you can do to keep your store out of this money-losing club:
- Use past seasons and recent sales data to go deep on key styles. Take the top 10% of sellers and become hyper-vigilant on inventory management and replenishment.
- Ensuring your stock never runs out may mean having temporary warehouses or storage units closer to your high-volume stores for quick access to key products. Or, it may require having a more robust supply chain network with predictive modeling to proactively ship product before stores even realize they need it.
- If your store is in a mall, consider contacting your mall partner to ask about vacant spaces or locations for temporary pods.
Pick the inventory strategy that makes sense for your business. Having top items in stock builds trust with consumers and makes sure those dollars stay out of your competition’s hands. Once they go to a competitor, future dollars may never come back, and that’s a significant opportunity cost.
Don’t give your customers a reason to shop online
In a report from IHL Group, researchers found that upwards of 24% of Amazon’s current retail revenue comes from customers who tried to buy the product in-store first. There are many reasons why a customer would choose to visit a store rather than shop online. Whether they need something immediately, want to touch and feel an item before purchasing, or don’t like to pay for shipping, don’t make shoppers regret their decision with an out-of-stock product.
a good time,
not a long time
Get creative with seasonal hiring
While seasonal hiring takes some of the burden off your local teams, it can be stressful. Be open to new approaches to make this process less daunting. Consider allowing applications through text message or conducting group interviews to save time. Or, offer a streamlined interview process with the option of interview and offer done in the same day.
Hiring and onboarding
It’s inevitable. At various times throughout the year, you'll need to rely on new hires to fill your staffing gaps. In 2019, retailers hired more than 600,000 employees, just for the holiday season. So it's wise to start planning the onboarding experience early. Time is not on your side here. You don’t have the luxury of giving temporary hires the same onboarding experience as full-time employees. Instead, plan an onboarding experience that only gives associates the critical information they need to hit the floor fast and do
their jobs well from day one. Teach seasonal hires your brand story, customer service expectations, key product/technology differentiators and promotions—essentially, the things they need to know to make sure your stores look their best and your customers receive friendly, efficient service during this hectic time of year. If they turn into a long-term employee, that’s when you can go deeper into the weeds on products, technologies and company policies.
With so much riding on a handful of shopping events and the holiday season, nailing your visual merchandising and product replenishment is vital. But, outward appearance won’t be enough to entice consumers if you don’t have the right amount of staff on hand to ensure a pleasant shopping experience. No one wants to wait for an hour in a crazy line to buy something. So make sure you’re staffing to speed up the checkout process and optimize the customer experience.
Avoid communication breakdown
You shouldn't have to rely on your store leadership to communicate all the things associates need to know to be successful. Instead, use a digital platform to reach your frontline with the corporate messages and key information they need to be as productive as possible. It’s easier than you may think and can take a lot of pressure off of your retail leaders.
You and your team have done a great job staffing and scheduling, so your expected coverage looks good. Next, it’s important to ensure your frontline associates are set up to perform their best—whether it’s their first retail job or they’re a seasoned vet coming over from one of your competitors. People have plenty of options in a tight labor market and a positive experience, even if only lasts a few weeks or months, can turn a seasonal employee into your next retail leader. Here are some ways to give associates the modern experience they crave.
Reach them where they are
The stakes of your entire season rest in the hands of diverse and dispersed associates who can only be reached by personal emails or cell phones. So it can be challenging to reach them with communications that keep them in the know and training that keeps their performance up to par. Seek out channels with the lowest friction for distributing information and learning, like their own personal mobile devices, in-store POS systems, kiosks, or any Wi-Fi connected device in the back of the store.
Up to 10% of in-store purchases are returned. Which means, if you've had a particularly busy season, a rush of returns is sure to follow. As much as you dislike them, returns are part of business. So it's important to have a plan to handle them properly.
Returns bring logistical challenges. Can you restock and resell the product in your store, online or at all? Can it be refurbished or repackaged? It's important to ensure your return experience is seamless and painless. Counter intuitive as it may be, a pleasant return experience will bring customers back to you the next time they’re ready to purchase. Since returns bring customers back to your store, it's smart to keep seasonal offers running (or add new ones) to help capture additional sales.
Happy Holidays (and beyond)
Despite working tirelessly to make your store a top holiday shopping destination, your efforts can be undermined in an instant if your associates, both seasoned and seasonal, aren’t engaged and ready to deliver amazing customer experiences. Get tips on improving employee experience all year round.