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How Retailers Can Drive Post-Holiday Shopping Momentum

How Retailers Can Drive Post-Holiday Shopping Momentum

If retailers optimize their operations now, they’ll not only achieve success for the holidays but well into the months and years ahead.

While many of us love the moment we get to open presents over the holidays, the real fun begins once you actually get to use the gifts you’ve been given.

You might wear new clothes on your next night out, for instance, or put on a new pair of ice skates to get more out of the winter months. The real value of the gift, in other words, comes well after the time you receive it.

Retailers that invest in automation as the holiday season begins will experience something similar. By optimizing your operations through technology, you’ll not only achieve success during the holiday season, but well into the months and years ahead.

If you’re not sure of the best way to get started, consider exploring the holiday insights that Salesforce gathered by looking at data from more than one billion shoppers around the globe.

The key takeaways confirm many of the trends Canadian retailers are already seeing. The data suggests that by December, for example, online spending will grow worldwide to $1.2 trillion. Enhancing the way you offer e-commerce as part of the customer experience you deliver should therefore remain a top priority, if it isn’t already.

Salesforce’s analysis also drove home the reality that Canadian consumers are much like their international counterparts in grappling with macroeconomic turbulence. Our high inflation rate will mean Canadians will be reserving their budgets for brands that offer value at every stage of the customer journey, from personalized marketing to fast, responsive service.

The data also suggests that tighter purse strings mean consumers are not willing to pay for products that pose a threat to the planet. In fact, 60 per cent of consumers surveyed globally will be looking for brands that promote sustainability. This could range from where you source materials, to production processes, and even the packaging you use.

All these trends point to a common objective for retailers in Canada: to exceed expectations with “customer magic.” By using automation to streamline processes and making the most of customer data, in other words, retailers have an opportunity to “wow” buyers during the holidays and continue building strong relationships with them even once the season is over.

Here are a few of the strategic steps you can take to to optimize business outcomes:

Conduct a data-driven audit of your current customer experience

Brands can get into such a groove with their day-to-day processes that it’s easy to overlook areas where customers might be running into friction.

When they use a platform like Customer 360, many of the manual tasks that have historically prevented them from looking more critically at their customer experience (CX) go away. At the same time, having a single view of customer data helps unify departments across a retail organization, from sales and marketing to IT, customer service and even HR.

If you can begin to identify areas where CX problems might send connected consumers in search of another retailer, you stand a much better chance of doing what’s necessary to delight them during their holiday shopping and retain them over the long term.

Empower your team to deliver peak performance – and not just during the holidays

Retailers have often hired additional staff in the lead-up to the holidays – often because there is anxiety about how busy things will get. Automating operations can help unearth data to more accurately forecast what kind of help you’ll need to maintain or even elevate your CX during the make-or-break moments of the retail sector.

Regardless of whether you’re adding more people, however, you also need to think about their employee experience and how it can contribute to your CX vision. If associates are scrambling to look up information or are chained to the POS, for instance, they’re more likely to annoy customers looking to buy products before they sell out.

That’s why it’s a good idea to arm employees with mobile apps that allow them to easily provide the experiences customers want, and to get help from coworkers through simple communication tools like Slack.

Lean into automation to lower costs

It may be tempting to think of the holiday season as a time to focus on selling large volumes. The retailers who are experiencing the greatest success today look at it through a different angle: the more relationships they build with holiday shoppers, the lower the cost of running their business becomes.

Even if you move a lot of product over the holidays, for instance, your business won’t make long-term gains unless it turns those shoppers into repeat buyers. Artificial intelligence (AI) can sift through large quantities of customer data to pinpoint those who are likely to be loyal versus those who may be ready to shop elsewhere next time.

Nurturing strong relationships with customers also becomes easier when employees aren’t juggling a laundry list of disconnected applications to manage their data. Consolidating those systems can help reduce the churn and cost of acquiring customers while saving the money that would otherwise be spent on maintaining separate pieces of IT.

It’s never too late to start planning for the holidays. In doing so you’re not just preparing for a two-week sprint of all-out effort. You’re building a foundation to ensure your success now pays dividends all year long.

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