The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier every year. Before Halloween even rolls around, Christmas decorations start to fill shelves and inhabit the collective consciousness of shoppers. And let’s be honest, poor Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to stand a chance in the middle of it all.
The holidays can make or break annual profits for retailers. This year, holiday retail sales predictions range from over $700 billion to north of $1.1 trillion, even despite concerns over trade and tariffs. Some are worried that consumer debt might make a dent on holiday spending, so if that’s the case, it’s even more important where they spend their money. With the litany of factors reshaping the retail experience, hiring and training frontline workers quickly and efficiently, so they’re ready to deliver outstanding customer services should be at the top of retailer’s wish lists. So what’s on the collective mind of retail leaders as this important season draws closer?
Speed, convenience, personalization. Those three words are at the top of many whiteboards at conference rooms in retailers across the globe, and they become even more important during the holidays. With so many stores vying for the attention and share of wallets of consumers, the ones that deliver faster, more conveniently, and with a personal touch will rise to the top. Shoppers will be short on time as they work through their shopping list, and they won’t want to deal with frustrating buying experiences. And personalization becomes even more important—you don’t want to offer up irrelevant suggestions during a time when time is money for harried holiday shoppers.
There are more ways than ever to buy, and that’ll come into play this holiday season. Retailers continue to innovate, like in-app purchases on social media sites, and it’s all about convenience. Shopping that starts on a website or app and finishes in a store is the norm, so a smooth omnichannel experience is paramount. BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) must be an easy, reliable process. Retailers that meet omnichannel demand in the fastest, most convenient way possible will win this holiday season.
Shop windows are a feast for the senses during the holiday season. There’s a reason they put so much effort into the in-store shopping experience—the brick-and-mortar store still matters. Ninety percent of holiday shoppers plan to shop in physical stores this season. So, creative experiential retail will take center stage during this holiday season. If retailers make their spaces so irresistible that they lure shoppers away from their competitors, that’ll be another boon to their holiday success.
Frontline workers are often the only interaction shoppers may have with a brand. During the holidays, many will stream into stores, drawn in by fancy displays, personalized offers, and engaging in-store experience. In times like this, the frontline worker is more important than ever.
Retailers should be thinking about their onboarding, offboarding, and training, and how they’ll keep an eye on how their frontline workforce’s performance. The National Retail Federation estimates that over 500,000 temporary workers will be hired this holiday season, so an efficient onboarding and offboarding process is critical. And engaging those workers through a unified HCM experience means they can focus on providing excellent customer service.
Frontline workers expect every part of their employment to be easy, from the application on. A quick, smooth onboarding process gets you off to a good start. Putting learning opportunities in the same system as HR tasks (like inputting timesheets and checking pay statements) creates a better experience. And when it’s easy to give accolades and recognize top performers, you’ll be more likely to keep them on board and empower them to grow with the company.
While you may be satisfied with the five golden rings and three French hens your true love got you this holiday season, retailers that want to see visions of record profits dance in their heads should double down on speed, convenience, and experience for both shoppers and employees.
Are you going to NRF: Retail’s Big Show in January? Swing by booth 1053 to see how our single system for finance, HR, planning, and analytics can help you excel in the changing world of retail.