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It’s that time of year: Temperatures are dropping, cheer is rising, and consumers are ready to spend! Retailers find themselves faced with the yearly joy—and challenge—of a high-volume holiday season. Given the tumultuous nature of another pandemic year, 2021 holidays are sure to bring yet another set of unique concerns and opportunities. Labor shortages, significant changes to omnichannel, and a steady return to in-person shopping all affect the way grocers make plans for holiday success. After nearly two years of persisting pandemic effects, the positive onset of vaccinations will see more holiday gatherings—meaning more food, more gifts, more spending.
How can retailers prepare? Preparation cannot be overemphasized. Be sure to keep the following imperatives front-of-mind this holiday season.
Loss Prevention & Asset Protection
A 2021 National Retail Foundation (NRF) National Retail Security Survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in overall risk to retail organizations. High holiday seasons revenue means grappling with higher risk for known and unknown loss, increased organized retail crime (ORC) and shoplifting due to larger crowds and overworked, overwhelmed staff.
Safeguard holiday revenue and reduce waste by pinpointing wasteful over-ordering and donating excess food. Often the logistical headache or concern over legal liability discourages retailers from committing to donations—but legislation exists to help retailers make safe, smart donations and protect them from civil and criminal liability. A program like Date Check Pro’s Stop Waste Together can help by discounting close-dated products, simplifying the donation process, and having proceeds benefit local nonprofit organizations.
Big crowds and overwhelmed stores mean theft, fraud, and counterfeiting are more difficult to detect throughout November and December. Reviewing yearly unknown loss data, training and supporting overwhelmed staff, and keying in on high-traffic hours and routes within the store can help grocers identify risks and prepare.
Customer Service & Consumer Satisfaction
The holiday season always feels primed with complicated consumer-staff interactions. Robust customer service through all channels is an enormous asset no matter how a customer is looking to fulfill an order: Proactive online tech support, in-store assistance, and delivery representatives alike are vital to a successful shopping experience.
The golden rule of treating every customer how you want to be treated has the potential to become very difficult during high-stress holiday situations—but a bad customer service experience can make or break a loyal customer. Retain loyalty by supporting staff: Focus on time-saving problem solving procedures, clear communication, and genuine interest and gratitude. Don’t leave your customers out in the cold: Customer service professionals can bypass customer frustration and worry by giving the most information in the clearest manner possible.
The experience of holiday shopping holds immense value this season: concern for in-person shopping at the height of the pandemic was a loss to many who enjoy the novelty of discovering seasonal treats, displays, and discounts in a physical storefront. Supplement visual delight with helpful, positive store employees possessing clear knowledge of store layout, seasonal deals, and the ability to get an answer to any question, and the chance of a satisfied customer increases tenfold.
When it comes to omnichannel systems this holiday season, consumers will expect ease and simplicity. The omnichannel ecosystem encompasses order fulfillment from checkout to pickup or delivery—say it with me: A connected store is a successful store. Grocers have made great strides in improved and innovative omnichannel systems, but there is still room for improvement, especially in preparation for the end-of-year holiday rush.
Optimization of search and discovery capabilities is the first step to digital holiday success. Incisiv found that on average, 69% of shoppers abandon the cart due to a poor checkout experience. Capture satisfaction and loyalty with speedy checkout functions like one-screen checkout, options to add-to-cart directly from product recommendations and product substitutions, personalization like targeted search parameters and relevant personalized lists, and digital currency options at checkout.
Efficient delivery and pickup systems will hold astronomical value during the holidays. Consumers don’t want to mess around with delayed orders or packed stores; they want their orders delivered or ready in time for holiday gatherings. For consumers looking to avoid the hassle of in-store shopping, seamless delivery and pickup options are holiday imperatives. Don’t get caught in an avalanche of orders without your system in seamless order.
Want to learn more about prepping your store for a busy holiday season? Make the 2021 holiday season cheery for consumer and retailer alike: Download ADC's 2021 Holiday Season Retail Preparation Guide today!