“Its the most wonderful time of the year” right? Not only are spirits up but hoards of shoppers flock to the high street and online with Brits estimated to spend £26,875,054,970 this year on gifts alone. Well for those who work in retail, we know too well that the mere mention of Christmas can bring a feeling of dread and anxiety. Being in the business of helping business owners for over a decade we have created a retail survival guide to help to help you manage the festive frenzy.
Obviously being the 20th it may seem too late to advise retailers to get prepared for the Christmas season but with one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year upon us it's never too late to get organised. The last Saturday before Christmas has now become known as Super Saturday, with previous years footfall on the high street surging as high as 45%. This weekend is a vital opportunity for retailers to maximise sales, with a huge level of panic buying and last minute shoppers. Yes only so much can be done in terms of stock levels however its imperative that retailers think strategically when selling.
Analyse the trends, what will be the “power hours”, do more staff need to be in at these times and when is the best opportunity to restock inventory on the shop floor. By recognising these hours not only can you sell more but you can take advantage of the quiet times for housekeeping. Take a moment before the store opens to create a detailed rota taking into account this data and outline exactly where staff have to be and at what times. By taking ten minutes to create a plan for the day you are ensuring efficiency and lowering the chance of chaos on the shop floor. Importantly, you want to prevent any opportunity for customers to become frustrated and leave your store especially as most will be on a time constraint meaning patience and tolerance will be low.
Don't let customer service standards fall
Christmas in retail can only be described as hectic but ensure that you don't allow your customer service standards to fall. By being prepared you are helping to avoid stress during busy times and it's important to remember that this is the season to go the extra mile with customers, making that perfect impression. Make customers remember the positive experience they had in store with you, especially during the crazy hours. Customers remember how they were treated in stores even more so during busy times and this will ultimately impact where they choose to shop on boxing day and throughout January.
Put the right members of staff in the right places. If you have an employee who you know is naturally charismatic, put them on the sales floor actively engaging with customers. Those who are quieter could manage the stock and backstage operations where it is less stressful. It's obviously a stressful time for everyone in the business and you want to ensure your customers have a positive experience in store with your employees. It’s also crucial that if you have hired new members of staff that they know your products and systems as well as yourself. Nothing can cause more stress to customers than long lines and delays in store due to employee failures. You don't want to give any reason for customers to walk out before purchase.
As well as this, if within your means, try to offer extras for customers, whether this is offering to gift wrap items or extras that can be added into bags. A small incentive can go a long way. Its important to remember that although this may be the 100th customer you've served that day, this is the first interaction a customer has had with your store, make it count!
Treat your staff with care
It's important that although its busy, staff are treated with the same respect and care as any other day of the year. Many working within retail have made sacrifices with their families and friends in order to help you manage the Christmas rush, show your appreciation. Statistically there will be customers in store who will be difficult and short with staff but if they feel happy with their employer it will make them better equipped with dealing with such customers.
Simply creating a positive atmosphere within the workplace will have a knock on effect on how these employees portray your business to customers. We all know it's clear when employees are unhappy in their environment and this can very much shape customer opinion. Also if your staff feel respected and happy in their workplace they will go the extra mile to help you whether it's working extra hours or doing jobs outside their description.
Enjoy the time
Yes this is a hectic time but don't forget to enjoy the festive season. No matter what industry you're in, its important to take moments for yourself so that you can enjoy this season. Your attitude will reflect in your communications with your customers and how they view your business. As with employees, its clear to customers when a retailer enjoys their work and if happy it can make their experience much more positive and memorable. Remember building relationships and customer loyalty is one of the most valuable assets to any retailer. If prepared, this time of year can bring a lot of joy into businesses and excitement throughout the work force. It's never too late to ensure that you make this a special time not only for your shoppers but also for your staff.