Just days remain until Christmas and, just as children grow excited about the end of the school term, adults are becoming increasingly panicked about the volume of holiday shopping still left to carry out.

At this point in December, we see an interesting shift in consumer activity. As final postage deadlines loom, and people become increasingly concerned about online deliveries arriving on time, there is a definite switch from ecommerce to physical retail.

This is welcome news for bricks-and-mortar – especially as lackluster retail traffic around Black Friday has left many stores playing catch up. However, the increased pressure placed on store infrastructures and ecosystems can lead to sales opportunities being avoidably lost.

Here is our advice for coping with the last minute store stampede, to maximize conversions and optimize the customer experience during one of the busiest periods of the year.

  1. Give staff defined roles

Naturally, the more shoppers come into a store, the more sales associates will be needed to manage their enquiries. Given that the role of the store is now incredibly diverse, it is retailers that give their workforce defined roles that will operate most efficiently.

For instance, in European markets where there is strong click-and-collect traffic, there will increased demand for this service heading toward Christmas. Assigning dedicated click-and-collect personnel will syphon off those who have already ordered from those buying from the store direct, to reduce queue lengths during peak trading periods.

One effective way to manage order collections is equipping staff with mobile POS devices, so that they can flexibly handle these interactions away from the main checkout.

  1. Predict when collect-in-store traffic will surge

On the subject of click-and-collect, many retailers don’t do enough with the intelligence surrounding collect-in-store orders. Most customers are given a finite window in which to pick up their orders, which enables stores to plot when footfall is likely to increase, and plan staffing around it.

But although fixed, the window for collection is quite broad, so retailers may want to narrow it down by incentivizing customers to visit during quieter times. These could include offering to refund their parking, a free cup of coffee, or a discount on anything they purchase in store whilst making their collection.

  1. Be responsive

Though retail organizations rely on retail traffic intelligence from previous years to predict ebbs and flows in shopper footfall in the days leading up to Christmas, there is always going to be an element of volatility.

Therefore, store associates need to be responsive within their assigned roles to make sure sales aren’t lost through simple errors such as not being on-hand to answer queries, or the checkout queues becoming too long.

Like with click-and-collect, mobile POS technology can play an important role here. Not only does it give staff the opportunity to queue bust when waiting times reach a critical mass – its connection to operational data enables personnel to provide detailed product information, cross-sell and upsell from anywhere in the store. Enhancing the customer experience AND their overall spend, potentially.

  1. Give shoppers a reason to come back

With every pair of hands geared towards Christmas activity, it can be difficult for retailers to see beyond December right now. However, with many shoppers entering the store for the first time – perhaps to buy a present for a loved one – the holiday season is a prime opportunity to build new customer relationships.

Creating a loyalty program that incentivizes consumers to return in the New Year is one way to drive traffic beyond the festive season. By encouraging them to open a loyalty card or digital passbook now, retail businesses can capture their contact details and begin marketing to them once the Yuletide rush subsides.

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