The holiday season is here and retailers across the land are gearing up for the busiest time of the year. The coming weeks won’t be easy, but they will bring a great deal of opportunity. With brand loyalty on the decline and inflation-squeezed shoppers hungry for bargains, now is the perfect time to win over new customers.
In order to do this, stores will need to overcome a number of practical challenges. Increased footfall and ongoing associate shortages are liable to create longer queues, slower service and frustrated customers. Busier stores will also provide cover for shoplifters, heightening the risk of both stock losses and violent altercations.
Planning is the key to avoiding these pitfalls. Stores need to anticipate the needs of potential customers, and the actions of potential criminals. Only then can they implement measures to streamline service and improve security. It’s a lot to ask, but we’re here to make it easy. Here’s how we can help you to end the year on a high.
Christmas as usual?
After a few shaky years, Quarter Four seems to be returning to its former glory. US holiday spending reached $929 billion in 2022, and this year looks set to be even bigger:
- Total holiday spending is expected to reach $1.3 trillion
- The average shopper plans to spend $950 on gifts, an increase of $18 compared to last year
Consumers are spending more this Christmas, but they’re not spending mindlessly. Inflation may be falling, but millions of households are still operating on tight budgets. This has created a more resourceful breed of holiday shopper:
- 61% of Americans are willing to try new retailers this Christmas,
- 75% will go out of their way to find the best deals.
There are millions of new customers up for grabs, but increased footfall brings a fresh set of challenges. 87% of US retailers are still experiencing labor shortages, leaving them ill-equipped for a sudden influx of customers. With 70% of shoppers already frustrated by in-store waiting times, these delays could drive away the very people you’re hoping to attract.
Training will also be a major challenge. Stores are expected to take on over 400,000 seasonal associates, and all of them will need to be trained. With 39% of shoppers associating a lack of product knowledge with poor customer service, neglecting training is another surefire way to lose holiday business.
Finally, stores will need to prepare for a big jump in online collections. One in five online orders made during last year’s holiday season was a BOPIS order, and retailers that offered this option increased their holiday revenue seven times faster than those that didn’t. 73% of stores struggle to fulfill BOPIS orders at the best of times, so coping with the Christmas rush will require a lot of planning.
Christmas comes early for criminals
There is one holiday challenge we haven’t mentioned yet, and it may be the most serious of all. Shoplifting is a constant problem for retailers, but it gets considerably worse during the festive season. Busier stores provide convenient cover for thieves, and this can lead to significant stock losses:
- US retailers lost $1.8 million to criminals in the four weeks leading up to Christmas 2022
- Half of all shoplifting occurs during the winter, and over 80% of this takes place during the holidays
As well as having a serious financial impact, these incidents can be devastating for associate wellbeing. 88% of retailers have noticed an increase in shoplifter aggression since last year, and this has left many associates afraid to go to work. Associates that feel unsafe are more likely to quit, leaving stores short-handed and creating even more opportunities for thieves. Breaking this cycle is another challenge that will require careful planning. This is where we come in.
The gift that keeps on giving
VoCoVo is an all in one communication solution. Our devices allow associates to share information instantly, and to receive external updates while they work. With this simple change, you and your team can face the holidays with confidence:
- Associates can use headsets to check stock levels for customers without walking to the stockroom. This reduces daily walking by 1500 yards, saving precious time when stores are busy.
- Keypads allow checkout associates to call for help without leaving their position, preventing delays at peak times.
- Headsets can be used to train new associates on the job. If a new recruit has a question about a product, they can ask an experienced associate at the push of a button.
- Call points can be used to streamline BOPIS collections. Customers can press a call point to check on the status of their order without having to join the main queue.
- Our messagecast feature lets head office update your entire estate on the latest offers and promotions, ensuring that customers don’t miss out on potential savings
- Headsets are clearly visible, creating a strong deterrent against theft.
- Associates can call security at the push of a few buttons. This is far more discreet than a PA announcement, allowing them to call for help without putting themselves at risk.
- If a shoplifting incident turns violent, associates can use our telephony feature to call the police without having to find a phone.
The holidays should be enjoyable for everyone, even those working in retail. Book a meeting today and find out how we can take the stress out of Christmas.