Are you and your retail store ready for the 2014 retail holiday season?
While the holiday shopping season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Gray Thursday (that’s what some experts have dubbed Thanksgiving) may seem far, far away, for retailers – it’s not too early to start planning.
Holiday spending is projected to increase by 3.5 percent over last year in 2014, according to the 2014 Holiday Guide (PDF) from Retail TouchPoints. Other trends include discounts earlier in the season (i.e., more Thanksgiving and pre-Thanksgiving specials), as well as steeper discounts later in the season to lure last-minute shoppers.
So how can your store get its share of holiday 2014 shopping, especially with more customers going online for deals?
For a brick-and-mortar shopper, one of the keys to a successful holiday season is a well-prepared sales staff. Here’s how to get your team ready this year.
Be Prepared for Super-Knowledgeable Customers
Last year, some two-thirds (65 percent) of holiday shoppers planned to “webroom”- that is, go online to browse products, compare prices and research before heading out to a physical store.
That means your employees need to be super-educated as well. Consumers today expect sales associates to be knowledgeable about products and services, how they work and how they compare to your competition’s. Make sure your employees are familiar with your return policies, guarantees, pricing and more.
Create an In-Store Experience
When customers step out from behind their computers or tablets to actually head into a store, they want an experience, not just a transaction.
As the guide puts it, try imagining what your store would look like if Disney were operating it. Can you hire or train employees with that level of dedication to providing great service? How can sight, sound and visuals contribute to a magical experience?
Give Your Employees the Tools They Need to Succeed
Your customers walk into your store with smartphones in hand, ready to compare prices or look up product details. Make it simple for your sales staff to do the same by providing them with smartphones or tablets to look up information, ring up sales (using apps such as Square) or place orders. Now’s the time to plan your mobile attack, update your POS system and get your team trained on it.
Plan Seasonal Hires Well in Advance
Good workers get snapped up quickly. You’ll also need time to train seasonal workers and get them up to speed on your products, services, policies and technology, so plan ahead now.
Get Mobile With Training, Too
Thanks to tablets and smartphones, you can do training during downtime on the sales floor instead of taking salespeople off the floor to get trained in a back room or at the sales counter.
Walk employees through point-of-sale steps, show them online videos or compare products online using tablets, and you can teach your staff while still staffing the sales floor.
Offering bonuses or commissions can motivate employees during the busy selling season. However, be sure to combine individual-based rewards such as commissions with group rewards to encourage teamwork.
For example, you could hold contests between morning teams and evening teams, weekend teams and weekday teams, or teams on different days of the week to get employees working together.
Involve Employees in Decision-Making
Letting employees help with brainstorming merchandising, marketing or sales ideas can help them feel a part of your business, which is especially important to part-time or seasonal workers.
When employees feel invested in what you’re doing, they’re more likely to work harder and be happier doing it.