3 Sure-Fire Tips for a Successful Holiday Season

Alison Choe
Alison Choe

As shopper expectations of holiday shopping evolve, retailers need to ensure they are meeting shopper needs by providing seamless and curated experiences, all while protecting the bottom line.

We are approaching the most wonderful, and possibly stressful, time of the year for retailers – the holidays. As you ramp up for the season to ensure your shoppers’ needs are met, below are some tips to consider while planning your holiday strategies.

1 – Create a seamless experience across channels. 

The majority of shoppers are still expected to do their holiday shopping in-store. However, 64 percent of in-store sales are influenced by digital interactions, according to Deloitte. This means retailers have to ensure the shopper experience across channels is seamless to encourage the final sale, whether it occurs offline or online. 

How do you provide a seamless experience? It starts by identifying the various points of interaction shoppers have with your brand, and how they move between channels through those interactions. Then, consider how to make each interaction frictionless. Below are some key aspects to think about:

  • Provide a smooth ‘buy online, pick up in-store’ process and ensure store associates are prepared for a higher volume of sales and shopper traffic.
  • Allow shoppers to pick up where they left off when shopping. For example, enable shoppers to continue their shopping cart from their mobile app to an online browser, and even to the store.
  • Provide shoppers with the ability to create online wish lists that are accessible in-store as well.
  • Use social media to encourage product discovery. For instance, Instagram has a shoppable content feature which allows retailers to link product information pages to posts as tags, and also allows shoppers to checkout directly in the app. This is a great way to curate products for the holidays, with inspiration and suggestions of gift sets.
  • Show product availability in-store from the website. This has shown to be a priority as 73 percent of shoppers are more likely to visit their local store if product availability information is provided.
  • Simplify the returns process and enable shoppers to return in-store or directly mail it back.

2 – Curate products based on what matters to your shoppers.

Holiday gift-hunting can quickly turn stressful and unpleasant when shoppers are under time pressure and are overwhelmed with options. As such, it is worth being thoughtful and personalized when curating and recommending gift options for shoppers.

First, curate by budget. Customers have said that the top stressor in their holiday shopping is ‘not finding presents within their budget,’ according to a survey by Natural Insight. Recommending by price point is a simple way to help shoppers’ sift through their options and get to the final purchase faster.

Second, it is useful to think about your target customers – what kind of gifts are they likely to be looking for? Are they looking for stocking stuffers or higher-end gifts? What gift sets are appealing to them? By looking at historical data of what shoppers were interested in, such as purchase data or website browsing data from last holiday season, it can help guide creation of product bundles and recommendations. 

3 – Be extra cautious of fraud, namely return fraud.

While you strategize to boost sales and revenue, also ensure your profits are protected by preventing fraud.

Return fraud can be a threat to retailers, especially with an increased volume of returns during the holidays, and higher shopper expectations for flexible return policies and smoother processes. In fact, a quarter of holiday shoppers buy items specifically with the intention of returning them later. As a result, it’s important to establish efficient processes to prevent a lack of vigilance caused by the overwhelming return volume. For example, retailers can train sales associates on loss prevention systems and processes, ahead of the holiday peak season.

According to the NRF Organized Retail Crime study, retailers expected an average of 10 percent of returns from the 2018 holiday season to be fraudulent, and Appriss forecasted retailers would have lost $6.5 billion to holiday return fraud. As these numbers are not insignificant, it’s important for retailers to have various strategies to prevent fraud. Below are three additional strategies to tackle holiday losses from fraud:

  • Improve security infrastructure, such as by adding security guards in specific areas and more visible loss prevention features, including sensor tags on products.
  • Use technologies that monitor cashier activity to automatically identify potentially fraudulent activity.
  • Consider tightening return and refund policies for the holiday period. Reducing the amount of time allowed for returns and refunds can lower fraud risks, and if your policy is clearly communicated to customers, it should not deteriorate the shopping experience. 

All in all, as shopper expectations of holiday shopping evolve, it is important to ensure successful holiday strategies attract shoppers, empower them through their shopping journey, and leave them satisfied with their experience.

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