4 Ways Retailers Can Prepare for a Successful Holiday Season

The holidays are the one time a year that consumers are united with a common goal: find the perfect gift. Some are bursting with excitement while others feel overwhelmed but both have two things in common: they love a glittering retail display and they want a great shopping experience. And, since customers start buying holiday gifts as early as October, now is the time to plan your 2019 holiday retail strategy.

 But as a brand, how do you craft an effective strategy and deliver a memorable experience?

1. Make it easy for your customers to interact with your brand.

The vast world of retail shopping is now a complex blend of eCommerce and traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Customers are accustomed to being able to complete their purchases with a few taps on their smartphone and expect to be able to research a product before buying, no matter the channel. Brands that cannot provide a seamless experience on the web, as well as in-store, will fall behind.

72% of customers do their research online before making an in-store purchase but 94% of all retail sales still come from brick and mortar stores. (1) Yet, only 8% of businesses believe that they are successfully integrating their customer experience. 

Clearly, people still love to shop at physical locations but are expecting more out of the experience than ever before. Make sure that you are providing enough digital content to engage with your customers so when they choose to enter a store, they head straight for your product. 

65% of customers who feel inconvenienced say they will never use that brand again. 

Let’s face it, we are all picky about where we spend our time and hard-earned money. ECommerce has transformed how we define convenience and expectations are high for high-quality experiences. Brands must make it easy for customers to return items and to give feedback on their experience. People want to feel heard and valued and if they feel like they aren’t, they’ll make sure your brand hears about it and you risk not only losing their continued business but anyone else’s in their network.

 Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and simplify how they interact with your brand. Your bottom line will thank you.

2. Stand out from the crowd with visual merchandising.

A great customer experience delights the customer and can be accomplished not only through a great purchasing process but also through superb visual design. How your products are displayed and how they’re branded will make all the difference when a customer is choosing between your product and a similar one right next to it. 

 For the holidays, this means taking advantage of the festive spirit and creating a visual experience that entices and intrigues. Are you packaging your products together? Are you making it easy for customers to buy not just one of your items but multiple? For example, if you’re a haircare company, package your shampoo and conditioner together, tied with a big red bow. It’s simple but effective. Give customers a reason to choose you.

 However, this goes far beyond bows. If you’ve ever walked past a window display that took your breath away, that’s visual merchandising done right. The iconic scenes from holiday movies in New York always include a window-shopping sequence for a reason: great retail displays are appealing to everyone. Don’t miss out on revenue because you are doing the same thing you do the rest of the year. Think differently, think about how to “wow” your customers this holiday season. 

 Visual merchandising isn’t just window displays. It’s also in-store displays that stand out. But no matter where your product sits, visual merchandising should do three things: engage shoppers, reflect your brand, and entice customers to make a purchase.

3. Don’t forget about retail merchandising.

Visuals are fantastic and are what first appeals to a customer. Yet, as any retailer knows, the magic happens behind the scenes and that means cold, hard numbers, planning out every detail, and staying on top of what’s going on with your products inside the store.

Retail merchandising, at its heart, is a process that helps maximize retail sales. This can be done through a variety of tactics including on-site demonstrations, signage, planogram design and maintenance, product stocking, and inventory management. 

50% of items set inline are executed incorrectly by the store; this grows to more than 60% if your product is placed in multiple locations like an endcap or display. (Shop! 2015 Study)

It’s expensive to place your product on the shelf, not to mention what it costs if you’re displaying in multiple locations. Yet stores are unreliable in executing your vision, which leads to lost sales and you may not even be aware of it.

70% of customers are willing to switch brands if their preferred item is not in stock. (Shop! 2015 Study)

 Your product must be where it’s supposed to be and in stock if you want people to buy it. If you don’t have insight into or aren’t managing store level inventory properly, the cost will be drastic.

This is where retail merchandising comes in. Retail merchandising ensures that your product is where it should be, priced correctly, in stock, and inventory levels are accurately reflected.

Customer experience is all the rage right now, and it should be. Almost 65% of consumers value the customer experience more than price. Deliver on experience and your sales will skyrocket. Make sure you’re preparing for your best holiday season ever by prioritizing your customers.

4. Putting It into Practice.

 It can be overwhelming to plan all of this, not to mention implementing it across every single store where you sell your product. 

 Don’t worry.

 Retail Merchandising Services, Inc. is a family-owned business with more than 100 years of retail employment experience. In other words, we live and breathe retail. We can help you with retail merchandising and executing visual merchandising plans so you can rest assured that your customers can find you, buy your product, and have a customer experience that they tell others about.

 To talk to one of our experts today, call 877.248.5429 or email us at info@rmservicing.com. 

 We’d love to chat and see how we can boost your sales. To learn a little bit more about us, visit www.rmservicing.com.