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Getting Ready for the Holidays – Part Two


If you still think it may be a bit early to take on the holiday retail rush, think again. With last year’s tepid sales, retailers need to gear up by September to get a leg up. Staffing, of course, is a crucial element for your business all year round, but building up sales staff for the holiday is especially critical.

Simply positioning “bodies” is not good enough. Consumers are armed with more product knowledge than ever. Last year, almost two-thirds of holiday shoppers “web-roomed” before coming to a physical store. They knew about products, services, how they worked and how they compared to your competition. Ensuring your staff knows prices, return policies, guarantees and more will allow you to build sales, consumer trust and return shopping trips.

With good help being snapped up quickly, now is the time to prepare for and hire seasonal staff and arm them with the tools they need for helping customers—whether it’s supplying staff with smartphones or tablets, retailers need to have their POS system in place and train employees on it.

Retail staffing firms can help to booster your sales force and support staff so you can concentrate on all the interlocking mechanisms to make the holiday season run with as few hitches as possible.

Using mobile tools, you can train staff during downtime on the sales floor instead of taking salespeople off the floor to get trained in a back room or at the sales counter. Showing associates point-of-sale steps, online videos or comparing products online using tablets can enable your staff to learn what they need to know, while still staffing the sales floor.

Offering bonuses, commissions and department/group rewards not only motivates individuals, but also encourages teamwork. Spurring employees to brainstorm with merchandising, marketing and sales can help them feel a part of the process and creates goodwill, respect and the desire to do well, in turn creating a successful sales environment.

Beefing up your mobile strategies will be essential this holiday season. Shoppers are now very engaged with their mobile devices and are constantly trying to find new ways to save money. According to data from Placed (a location analytics firm), getting coupons, discounts and price comparisons were among the most common ways consumers used their devices to shop on Black Friday.

Pricegrabber’s research last year indicated that out of nearly 4,000 online shoppers, 61% said they planned to download coupon apps for holiday shopping; 55% said they used comparison shopping apps; 54% were going to download apps from their favorite retailers; 50% said they would download Black Friday and Cyber Monday apps to search for the best deals; and 44% intended to download apps with the ability to scan barcodes for price comparisons.

A Forrester study done this year, commissioned by RetailMeNot, found that 55% of smartphone coupon users will spend more money during the online or in-store visit than they originally planned. Almost 45% will spend between $26 and $50 more, while 17% will spend an extra $50 or more.

Mobile apps are increasingly important complements to in-store shopping. Mobile app analytics vendor Mobidia Inc., an official Internet Retailer data partner for the 2015 Mobile 500, exclusively measured app engagement levels of the 262 merchants in the Mobile 500 that offer apps. Mobile 500 retail apps with the highest engagement levels include Neiman Marcus (64.3%), Kohl’s (63.6%), Victoria’s Secret (61.7%), and H&M (56.6%).

According to the Mobile 500, 32.4% of the Belk shopping app’s monthly active users use the app at least once a week, which enables easy barcode scanning, coupon integration with Apple’s Passbook wallet, a Belk store finder and integration of email and social sharing.

Integrating this mobile technology and training among store staffers will be key in getting the jump on holiday sales this season.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, holiday sales, holiday spending,
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