5 Ways Retailers can Stay Ahead of Online Stores over Christmas

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

Last year retailers’ Christmas sales in Australia didn’t meet expectations. E-commerce is only growing, but surveys suggest people still enjoy shopping in stores, and the festive season can be a really exciting time to entice people in. Christmas also presents the opportunities for up-sells associated with gift giving. I’ve put together 5 tips on how Brick and Mortar retailers can stay relevant amidst the growing popularity of online stores.

Make the most of multi-channel

A mix of online presence and in-store retail means you can make the the best of both worlds. While brick & mortar is still king, recent research by 8×8 Inc. shows that blending “phygital” is working. Past research in Australia has also shown that even those of younger generations enjoy seeing physical products in real life before purchasing them. But also that

many people are now checking online reviews, and comparing alternatives, while they’re in-store.

So if you’ve got a competitive product, even if you don’t want to sell it online – do have an online presence, on a platform that enables reviews and price lists at the very least. To go further, see how five key retailers are showing the way to smarter communications, lowering costs while improving productivity and experience.

Take advantage of your customer service advantage

E-commerce stores are consistently upping their customer service game with more data on consumers accessible than ever before, being put to use to segmented communications among other things, and improved packaging and shipping. But Brick and Mortar retailers still have the powerful ability to gauge moods and offer personal service face to face. Staff can offer the authentic, human touch:

giving gift recommendations, styling advice, or just a friendly conversation to add value and depth to a customer experience.

Make the store social media worthy

I was recently walking through the David Jones spring flower display to get to another part of the store – I could hardly shuffle through: “What a nightmare!” I thought to myself. Looking around all I could see were

people with mobiles held at eye level – everywhere!

If you have a look at the individuals’ Instagram profiles, as well that of DJ’s, you better believe it will be SATURATED with posts about the event. Anything that encourages people to share your business online and be excited to be in-store is great marketing, especially with all the noise online about e-commerce stores.

Offer payment plans

Afterpay is crazy popular right now.

It’s even one of the most talked about stocks. Retailers, especially those offering larger purchase $ values, may want to consider adding a payment plan to maximise accessibility and sales. Technology like Afterpay should be part of a broader approach, whereby updating your technology increases efficiency and customer experience alike. Afterpay-type arrangements also have the added benefit of helping distribute cash flow across some of the quieter months.

Be PREPARED

Online shopping is easy. Retailers need to make in-store experiences easy too. People are stressed and time poor, especially during the festive season, so be as prepared as possible to streamline their experience –

and don’t make them wait.

Things as simple as keeping up the receipt paper in your POS, having extra staff on, and providing gift bags are going to make the experience easier and more enjoyable for consumers.

Connect with Phil on LinkedIn.

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