How to get your stores ready for the peak season
It’s usually about this time of year when you start to hear it. It starts with the jingle of the bells, then that giant red truck emblazoned with lights and a giant Santa sippin’ on an ice cold Coca-Cola rolls into view and, before you know it, holidays are coming is on repeat in your head.
Love it or loathe it, holidays are coming and, for most of you out there, it means peak season is about to hit.
So, rather than running around in a blind panic, and worrying about the hordes of White Walkers customers set to storm through your doors, it’s time to get ready to make the most of the busiest time of the year.
We know there’s a lot to think about and so many areas to cover. We’re going to assume that you’ve got things like staffing levels and store displays covered so, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on everything you can (and should) be doing through your POS.
With a few little tweaks and some joined-up thinking, you’ll be able to take your efficiency and customer service up to the next level to ensure you’re sleigh-ing it this holiday season.
1. Enable gift receipts
This one is simple but it’s a no brainer. Gift receipts make life easy for customers and can help remove some of the hassle and stress that always comes with purchasing gifts. The main difference between a regular receipt and a gift receipt is that the gift version does not include price information for the purchase. The gift receipt allows the customer to buy and give a gift without revealing the price paid. The recipient of the gift is able to use the receipt to return or exchange the item if needed.
2. Online returns in store
Having the technology in place so you can accept online returns in-store is an absolute must. As far as your customers are concerned there’s no difference between your sales channels and if they can’t return a product they bought online to one of your stores it’s going to leave a bad taste in the mouth. But the benefits don’t stop there. 62% of shoppers are more likely to buy online if they can return a product to a store, 80% of customers that do return a product to a store end up spending the refund in the store, and omnichannel customers are 83% more profitable than single channel customers. To enable online returns, your POS must be able to talk to and integrate with your eComm platform.
3. Scale up to meet increased demand
It’s economics 101; when demand soars, supply has to rise to meet demand because, if it doesn’t, resources will become scarce. At the times of peak demand, it makes perfect business sense to increase POS numbers in-store to avoid long lines and frustrated customers. With the hardware and platform flexibility (iOS and Android), this is fast and simple. Think of every POS you have as a resource. If you’re using a traditional cash register complete with monitor, scanner, keyboard and all the other clunky tech you don’t really need, increasing the number of POS you have in store is going to be a nightmare.
If, on the flip side, your POS is mobile-first, can work on any mobile device or tablet, and easily interacts with other in-store devices, scaling up to meet increased demand is as easy as pie. You can easily connect your extra POS devices to your existing payment terminals and receipt printers that you use during times of normal demand. Equally, at quieter times of the year, scaling back is hassle free. You can find out more about the benefits of hardware flexibility in our free guide.
But wait…there’s more. When your POS is mobile it means your store associates can serve your customers anywhere in the store. They can take payments and orders, help customers find what they are looking for, and deliver top-class service. Oh, it’s great for conversion and in-store efficiency too.
4. See all your stock everywhere
Are you ready for an experiment? It will take less than 30 seconds. Jump up, stand on one leg, cover one eye and try to hop in a straight line. It’s pretty tricky right? Well, so is trying to run your stores at your busiest time of the year when you don’t have complete visibility of all your stock, across all your sales channels, in real-time. It’s a bit like hopping on one leg while half blind; definitely not recommended. When you connect all your sales channels in real-time it’s easy for your store associates to see what’s in stock, where it is, and how quickly they can get it. And it means you don’t have to miss out on a sale because a customer can’t find what they’re looking for.
5. Boost your omnichannel sales and fulfillment capabilities
If a customer is buying a gift, sometimes it might make life easier to have that gift shipped straight to the address of the person they’re buying it for. With best-of-breed tech, this can be done straight from the POS. In terms of fulfillment, when all your sales channels are connected, you can meet your customers’ needs in a cost efficient way. It amplifies your sales and fulfillment possibilities with Click-and-Collect (BOPIS), Click-and-Reserve (ROBIS), Endless Aisle and buy, reserve and pickup in other stores.
It also helps you turn your stores into fulfillment centers, meaning ecommerce orders can be shipped from your stores and that stores can ship orders placed in other stores. All your stores should be able to be used as fulfillment centers. Not only does turning your stores into fulfillment centers make you more efficient and result in a better service for customers, it’s also more sustainable as it cuts down on shipping from centralized distribution centers.
Bonus Tip 1: Don’t forget about data capture
With footfall set to go through the roof in the peak season it’s the perfect opportunity for you to capture customer data and to enter them into your loyalty schemes. This is infinitely easier when all your tech seamlessly integrates with each other. For example, if your POS integrates with your CRM, it’s incredibly easy to capture customer data at the point of purchase and can all be done through the POS. It’s a technique Lakrids By Bülow use to great effect with their ‘Liquorice Lovers’ loyalty concept. Digital receipts are another fantastic and simple way for you to capture your customers’ email addresses. Not only does it benefit you (because you get your customer’s email) it’s useful for them because they have the reassurance the receipt has been emailed to them and they don’t have to worry about keeping (or losing!) paper receipts.
By capitalizing on the increased footfall, you’ll be laying the groundwork to boosting your customer average lifetime value and laying the foundations for increased brand loyalty.
Bonus Tip 2: Don’t forget about the post-holiday sales!
Sales come around thick and fast in the immediate aftermath of the holidays and into the new year. Take a breath in the madness and get your campaigns and discounts set up in your POS system now so you’re ready to rock when the sales begin.
So there we have, the holidays are coming but it’s nothing to fear. With a few simple tweaks, you can optimize your stores to get maximum impact from the busiest time of the year.
If you’d like to find more about any of the above or see how game-changing tech can help your business we’d love to talk to you.
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