Despite the disruption of the COVID-19 outbreak, retailers are on course for a busy Christmas. A recent survey showed that 45% of consumers had already started Christmas shopping when the lockdown was announced, and 27% were planning to start in November. This is expected to cause a surge in December footfall, with twice as many customers visiting the high street.
The BRC attempted to reduce December overcrowding with a campaign encouraging customers to shop early. However, this was prevented by the November lockdown. With only a three week window available, some stores are extending their opening hours to accommodate more customers. Marks & Spencer announced that it would be opening 400 of its stores until midnight in the run up to Christmas, showing just how high footfall is expected to be.
Customers have new priorities
As well as a higher footfall, retailers will also have to cope with new customer behaviours. Studies show that customer priorities have shifted. Customers have always been price-conscious, but the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic has pushed this further. 32% of UK consumers have switched to a less expensive brand, and 88% plan to stick with this choice after the pandemic.
Ongoing safety concerns also mean that shoppers want to minimise the time spent in store. 52% of consumers are spending less time in store, and these shoppers will favour stores that can streamline their experience.
Safety-conscious consumers will also gravitate towards stores that are making a visible effort to enforce social distancing and other safety measures. Two thirds of UK consumers are basing their shopping decisions on the safety measures a retailer has in place, and 60% favour brands who prioritise the safety of their employees.
This will be a Christmas of familiar challenges and brand new problems. Here are 7 ways that VoCoVo can help you to cope with the festive rush.
1. Ensure everyone in the team can communicate safely and remotely
Social distancing guidelines will remain in place throughout the festive period, and probably well into 2021. Our headsets allow colleagues to communicate clearly whilst keeping their distance. Duplex technology allows for crystal-clear two way speech that feels as natural as a face to face conversation.
2. Ensure temporary team members receive training
Businesses often cope with the Christmas rush by taking on temporary colleagues. An extra 14,000 positions will be available this year, and all of these colleagues will need to be trained. Traditionally, newer colleagues would shadow more experienced team members, but social distancing makes this tricky.
Our headsets allow you to train newer colleagues from a distance without interrupting your own tasks. Trainees can call for help at the push of a button, and can request specific information using the conference feature.
3. Get customers in and out quickly and safely
Research shows that 50% of UK shoppers are making a conscious effort to limit the amount of time they spend in stores. For these customers, efficiency will be the key to retaining their business. This sentiment is echoed by colleagues. In our recent survey of retail colleagues, 47% said that getting customers through the checkout faster would be the best way to increase productivity.
Our headsets reduce customer waiting times by enabling remote assistance. If a customer wants to check if something is in stock, a colleague can call the stockroom directly without having to walk there. If there is a problem at the checkout, the nearest colleague can be summoned.
4. Enable customers to summon help remotely
Many customers now favour self-service checkouts as a way to minimise face to face contact with cashiers. A recent survey showed that 79% of consumers intend to use self-service more as a result of the pandemic.
Our Call Points allow you to streamline the self-service process. Customers who need help can simply press the call point and it will send an automated message to all colleagues. This will tell colleagues the customer’s location and the nature of the problem, allowing the nearest or most knowledgeable colleague to respond every time. If the query can be handled remotely, colleagues can respond immediately via their headsets.
Call Points also allow you to leave self-service checkouts unmanned, freeing up colleagues to get on with other tasks. This is especially useful during the Christmas period when colleagues need to focus on restocking shelves.
5. Enable colleagues to ask for help when needed
33% of colleagues feel unsafe when working alone, and a further 33% are worried when they can’t communicate with coworkers. This is a particular problem during the Christmas period when colleagues are often significantly outnumbered by customers.
Our Keypads give checkout colleagues peace of mind by allowing them to call for help whenever they need it, offering a two way communication between colleagues. They can choose from a number of preloaded options, each of which sends an automated call for assistance to their coworkers.
6. Help HQ stay in touch with all branches
The UK will be operating on a 3 tier system throughout December, meaning that safety measures are liable to change at short notice. With customer safety at stake, waiting until the next morning meeting to update colleagues is no longer an option.
VoCoVo’s message casting feature allows HQ to send simultaneous updates to all branches, keeping everyone on the same page. Messages can be sent nationally, regionally, or to individual stores as required.
7. Keep colleague morale high
39% of retailers told us that keeping colleagues motivated was the biggest problem they faced in 2020. This can be especially challenging at Christmas when colleagues are facing more stressful situations than usual.
The morning huddle may be temporarily on hold, but our headsets allow you to conduct socially distanced team meetings with crystal clear sound. This improves morale by creating a sense of togetherness, even if colleagues are physically separated.
After a turbulent year in retail, a profitable Christmas is more important than ever. By focusing on team communication, you can make sure that everything goes to plan.