The 2017 retail holiday shopping season exceeded 2016’s results by 5.5 percent, ending with $691.9 billion in spending excluding restaurants, auto dealerships and gas stations. Businesses are relying on online support, customer care call centers, and more to keep up with the influx of business around Black Friday.
Initial forecasts for 2018 called for continued gains, but the National Retail Federation (NRF) recently adjusted that prediction. “We’ve had a great first half of the year,” Matthew Shay, NRF CEO and president, told CNBC. “We had initially forecasted retail sales would increase this year between 3.8 and 4.4 percent, and we’ve upgraded that now to a minimum of 4.5 percent.”
With all indications showing another strong holiday season, the time to prepare your business is now.
4 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Shoppers
1. In-store Preparation
The holiday season brings an increase in foot traffic that can put a strain on your current staff and inventory levels.
Take the time to review last year’s results and plan accordingly for this year. Decide ahead of time where to display your popular sellers and how many service positions it takes to handle customer demands both at the register and in the aisles. A lack of available customer service leads to lost sales.
2. Online Preparation
Consumers spent over $108 billion online during the 2017 holiday shopping season. Despite your great products and competitive pricing, a clunky website only leads to lost revenue and unhappy visitors.
Take time before November to audit your site for accuracy, ease of use and functionality. Make sure that your checkout process is streamlined and bug-free. Have landing pages set up to highlight your best-selling products, and review your shipping methods and handling time to ensure speedy delivery.
Don’t forget; your mobile site is just as, if not more, important than your desktop site when it comes to Google ranking.
3. Black Friday Starts Early
Recently, major retailers are getting a head start on Black Friday deals, with some opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day and others hosting pre-sale events throughout early November.
Take advantage of your ability to reach early-bird customers by providing them opportunities and special sales prior to the big weekend. Prepare your early-bird specials, Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday offers well in advance.
4. Provide Outstanding Customer Service
Both in-store and online customers have questions and concerns that must be addressed before, during and after the sale. If your customer service team isn’t able to meet those demands in a timely and satisfactory manner, you’re bound to lose revenue — now and in the future.
Customer service options should be provided through in-person and digital means. Establish email and chat support in addition to your phone center for customers who prefer those methods, and staff appropriately for the increase in business.
Ameridial can help you in this area with third-party in-country support options that provide highly trained and timely support teams without the need for hiring temps. Contact us today to learn more about our customer care solutions.