This year, consumers plan on buying their holiday gifts earlier because of worries about availability. To meet this need, retailers have launched their holiday sales in October, a month before Black Friday, which will lessen the impact on their already stressed supply chain. This is a boon for consumers looking for a bargain, but may catch small retailers, such as yourself, off guard.
Every year, you stock up on your bestselling items for the holiday and set up your marketing campaigns. Because this year is unique, you may need to accommodate your customer’s needs due to the many changes caused by the pandemic. It’s time to shift your focus toward new strategies that improve overall customer satisfaction.
1. Understand Customer Expectations
Relying on intuition may be a big mistake this year. You can reach out to each customer via email or text and ask them directly about their expectations regarding services or availability. Your website is also a great resource for collecting customer information. It’s easy to place a poll on the side asking their feelings about a range of topics. Then, you can use this information to exceed their expectations.
2. Leverage New Innovations
Business will be looking to make it easier for customers to purchase products and services online. This doesn’t require an ecommerce site. Chat Bots are facilitating more purchasing decisions and phone orders are making a comeback. If you’re not already using the latest in technology for customer service and marketing, you could be missing out on some golden opportunities. For example, Two Way Texting improves service and offers more engagement with customers. Texts can also send multimedia, such as images and video, to garner more attention.
3. Manage Inventory to Meet Demand
Stuck at home shoppers are projected to spend more on gifts this year and much less on travel or unique experiences. Out-of-state shipping will be needed more than in years past, which opens the window for concerns about “first to last mile” quality of service. It’s time to work with your vendors to get a sense of what’s happening with their suppliers, as well as stock up on your more popular items.
4. Move Obsolete Stock
Stock that’s no longer moving is costing you money through a combination of opportunity costs, warehousing, and other expenses. The holidays are a perfect time to pull reports on obsolete stock and find creative ways to move it out the door.
5. Make Returns Easier
Returns are definitely part of the overall customer experience. One way to make returns easier is to train your employees on how to provide a frictionless process. You can also assess each step of the process to see if any can be eliminated or improved.
6. Develop a Contingency Plan
Big shifts in the market have an impact on how we do business. Much of what happened during the early days of the pandemic was out of our control. Being prepared for another major shift could save your business a lot of headaches. Having a good contingency plan in place helps you overcome any unforeseen moves in the market.
Open More Channels of Communication
This holiday season, your customers will want to know when you’ll be open, what’s in stock, and how they can get it without standing in long lines or waiting for it to come off backorder. It’s time to think about how to effectively communicate with your customers in ways that they will listen. They will appreciate your efforts to make their holiday shopping less stressful.