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How In-Store Technology Can Help Retailers Prepare for the Holiday Season

Contributors: David Patterson

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time for retailers to gear up to ensure their operations are adequately prepared for a successful holiday season. Mastercard’s latest report indicates holiday sales could grow by 3.7% —driven by both eCommerce, up 6.76%, and in-store sales climbing by 2.9%. In-store sales are still planned to make up 80% of the total season spending, so it’s more important than ever to ensure consumers are having positive experiences in physical channels. Long checkout lanes, lack of inventory, and a poor omni-channel experience are a few notable items that can put a damper on holiday shopping. However, investing in the right in-store technology can help retailers alleviate these issues. Below we evaluate crucial ways retailers can prepare for the busy shopping season ahead.

Preparing for the Holiday Season 

Effective Communication: Retailers are prepping for a hiring frenzy to help tackle what is hoped to be a surge of holiday shoppers. Major players like Target and Macy’s have announced plans to hire over 100,000 and 38,000 seasonal employees, respectively, with big box stores in general planning to hire around 400,000 temp employees to help operations run smoothly. With a team of new employees (temporary or not), effective communication of the day’s tasks and priorities is even more crucial. On average, only 29% of communication makes it from corporate store operations to the team executing in-store. This problem becomes exacerbated when holiday stress begins affecting both shoppers and store staff alike. It’s important to implement adequate task management solutions to help publish directives and instructions to the sales team in an effective manner.  

Frictionless Shopping Experience: An influx of new employees is not enough to keep stores running smoothly, however. In a recent study, long checkout lines were ranked as the #3 pain point for customers while shopping in stores. Adding in the stress and time crunch of the holiday season will only amplify this issue. This can be accomplished by ensuring the Point of Sale (POS) system elevates the shopping experience and helps line-busting efforts within the store. 87% of consumers are also very open to having more self-service options as long as it translates to less friction overall. Finding the right balance in your POS system in time for the holiday season can help to keep you ahead of the competition.  

Accurate Inventory Management: Even if stores are staffed and running smoothly, the #2 pain point for consumers while shopping in stores is dealing with limited product availability. 60% of consumers are still concerned about product availability coming out of the last three years of tumultuous inventory positions. Going into this holiday season, many retailers are forecasting inventories to be down anywhere from 10% to 30%. With leaner inventory, it’s imperative that customers have access to real-time in-store and online availability. Currently, most retailers only have between 65% to 80% inventory accuracy. This gap in inventory intelligence can lead to frustration from customers as they try to complete their shopping list. Deploying more accurate inventory management technology, like RFID tags or special inventory management software, can lead to increased accuracy upwards of 99%. With accurate inventory in check, consumers can feel more confident in shopping across channels and utilizing options like Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) or browsing available inventory before dedicating time to visit a physical location.  

Personalizing the Shopping Experience: Once shoppers do make it into the store, their #1 pain point is locating the product they are seeking. Store apps that link inventory information with store location are a great way to aid customers in their shopping experience. When utilizing this technology, it’s important to also offer things like free, in-store Wi-Fi to keep customers connected to information pertinent to their path to purchase. Both resources also open the opportunity to personalize your connection with the customer in real-time as they browse the store. 77% of consumers enjoy having a retail experience that is differentiated and personal to them and state that it makes them more likely to purchase. Leveraging technology to make this connection in stores can help lead to higher conversion during the holiday season.  

How In-Store Technology Can Help Retailer’s this Holiday Season  

No matter your approach, leveraging enhanced in-store technology can be a key differentiator with shoppers this holiday season – and beyond. The reliance on technology is only accelerating, so now is a great time to start assessing what will work best for your stores. Not sure where to start with your technology roadmap? Our team of retail technology experts is passionate about these solutions and are prepared to help. Connect with us today to discuss next steps. 

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Tags: Retail Planning and Execution, Retail Trends