Are You Providing a Seamless Retail Shopping Experience?
Retailers are very aware of the shortened holiday shopping season this year, which has been reduced by almost a full week between Black Friday and Christmas. On top of that, this holiday calendar has also brought only four – rather than five – full weekends to shop, which are typically the peak times for shopping traffic.
However, just as back-to-school season brought in shoppers as early as July, the holiday season has fared no differently, with 40% of consumers beginning their holiday shopping before Halloween. Of course, it’s imperative that retailers hit the ground running the day after October 31st. But, to really profit from earlier shoppers, especially those celebrating an earlier Hanukkah, retailers should already be making their way around the track.
Although ShopperTrak has forecasted a 2.4% increase in holiday sales for the months of November and December, total traffic to stores is expected to decline by 1.4% from last year. Retailers must understand that, although there may be just as many people shopping in stores this year, they may be visiting fewer stores to make their purchases. Steep discounts on select items may bring foot traffic through the door, but it won’t encourage them to linger and shop. Retailers must have a solid strategy in place to deliver the kind of seamless shopping experience consumers demand – both online and offline.
The NRF has stressed how retailers must leverage digital technology and have omnichannel initiatives in place to be successful with consumers. For instance, the NRF found that two-thirds expect a good smartphone experience and three-quarters expect a good tablet experience. However, almost 90% expect retailers to use technology to help them find an out-of-stock product. And, if there’s one thing retailers know about holiday shoppers, it’s that consumers want exactly what they’re looking for right now – or they’ll shop elsewhere. Those who can engage customers digitally over the holiday season will increase customer sentiment in the long run.
Retailers will also find that this level of engagement may help relieve some of the frustration customers feel because of a scaled-back service staff. Technological advancement has groomed consumers for immediacy. If they’re able to get more of their immediate needs and questions met through digital channels, especially while they’re standing in the store, it will save them from experiencing the aggravation of having to wait to be serviced by the “next available representative.” It may also free up employees to serve those with more complex needs.
Although online retailing has grown exponentially, the physical brick-and-mortar store is still at the heart of the holiday experience for shoppers. ShopperTrak understands this and has provided retailers with the people counting technology to harness accurate data for actionable insights to effectively bridge the online and offline worlds. Retailers have successfully used our in-store analytics system to identify and target those factors contributing to the seamless shopping experience their customers demand.