Retail holiday checklist

Retail holiday checklist to complete before the Christmas season

Retail holiday checklist

We’ve made a list. Be sure to check it twice before your retail store enters the holiday season. It seems like a lifetime ago that the pandemic changed the face of retail forever. So, why are so many retail stores still lagging in sales? With the experience of the last holiday season, many store managers feel like they’re headed back into the trenches. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered, so you don’t have to get caught blind-sided again.

 Create a customer experience

It’s no longer enough to just advertise to customers. You must create an experience for them. Customers are currently suffering from post-pandemic anxiety: feeling stressed even as things return to normal. You have to make your customers feel like they are missing out on something in the store that they can’t find online, otherwise they won’t be able to see a trip to your store as being “worth the risk.”

Give your guests a reason to put on real clothes and venture out. Start by going all out on holiday décor (And we mean go big!). If you can give your customers a sense of nostalgia for the of love holiday shopping, you can put them at ease and even entice them. Try having cups of coffee or hot cocoa ready to be handed out at the door on Black Friday. Then do a “feature wall.” It doesn’t have to be a wall per se, just something that your store has that no other does. Bonus: make that feature something they can snapshot and  .

Train your staff to interact with customers safely After all, the main reason people come to a store instead of shopping online is for in-person customer service. Don’t forget to reward your customers with loyalty programs and discounts that they can’t find online. Maybe your store could advertise a Christmas advent calendar on Cyber Monday, one that features different in-store sales promotions for each day of December. If you have given your guests a reason to venture out into the here and now, then you at least need to be able to show them up front that you are consistently reliable.

 Keep walkways clear

In the age of post-Covid shopping, consumers are struggling with comfort levels of returning to in-person shopping. You have to not only give them a reason to return to stores, but give them the confidence to believe they can get in-and-out of your store safely and quickly. It’s not enough just to get your customers inside the door, you have to be willing to toss out the old rules and completely reinvent convenience. Try walking the routes through your convenience store. Does it flow easily? Are your customers getting bottlenecked at the register? Make sure you are following OSHA’s guidelines from the CDC this holiday season.

Line the walkways with impulse purchases they would have otherwise missed because they only came for one item. Line the checkout aisles with necessities they may have forgotten in their haste; such as gift cards, stocking stuffers, and wrapping essentials they can grab easily. Don’t forget to line the stores with portable hand sanitizer stations and wipes so they feel safe and comfortable with their surroundings.

 Keep shelves stocked

When a guest walks in, and they see shelves in disarray, they may assume they will need to spend extra time hunting for a product. This can discourage many guests from in-store shopping. AI software can help combat those messy shelves by predicting demand trends, making sure you don’t order too much or too little of your products so your shelves are sufficiently stocked. The good news is, unlike last year, which you can forecast sales against.

Consider visual merchandising, make sure the shelves are staggered vertically from the lowest in front to the tallest in back. That way, when a customer walks in, they can easily see that the shelves are organized and full. When a guest first enters your store, they should be able to immediately pinpoint the direction of the item they are looking for. Try installing signage by the entrance featuring big-ticket holiday items. This will help them navigate more quickly and reduce bottle-necking by the entrance. That could deter potential customers outside.

 Give them more ways to pay

Never before have your customers had so many ways to pay: touchless card scanners, self-checkout kiosks, mobile pay, QR code systems. These options help shoppers feel comfortable when practicing safe distancing, which has been shown to boost sales. You can even include touchless cash machines, which allow customer to insert cash without touching the machine.,

Mobile pay is now better than ever, enabling customers to scan QR codes on items with their smartphones. Then, they can either check out straight from their phones, or at a self-checkout kiosk, which reduces crowds at the checkout counter. NCR can help you convert to mobile pay easily by integrating your technology with third-party apps. This will save you time and money. Delivery apps can also be a great way for your store to keep up with the online shopping giants.

Even if some of your customers decide to be naughty rather than nice, you can’t let that deter you from adopting new payment technology. You can station employees by the exits, armed with scanners to verify receipts and purchases. That way, during this labor shortage, you can assign the few retail workers you do have this season to the areas you need them most, instead of at the cash register.

 Make online ordering & pick-up a breeze

Say your guests are in a hurry and only have their lunch hour to pick up holiday treasures. Normally, they would have just ordered with an online shopping giant and been done with it. But you can offer them more. You can offer them the ability to see, touch and hold the product to make sure it’s the one they wanted. You need to show your customers  that experience without eating into their time. Now, thanks to the right POS system, they can order online and schedule a pickup window.

Center the home page of your eCommerce store around the holiday items you know they are going to be looking for. You can show them that choosing your store can offer them more convenience than the hassle of having to wait for – and pay for – abnormally long shipping times. Or worse, a defective product arrives and they will then have to spend time trying to print a return label and drive to a shipping store. Consider adding a drive-through window if you can afford it. On the cheaper end, you can always reserve a few parking spots close to the entrance for curbside pickup. Then after the holiday season is over, repurpose those spots for scheduled return drop offs.

By equipping your retail store with the right technology, you can set up all your holiday planning, loyalty programs, store shelves and anything else this holiday shopping season may throw at you. NCR can help you secure those sales just as your competitor is treading water. From the NCR family to yours, we hope you have a happy and prosperous holiday season!