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The Xmas Files: Retailers, give something back this Christmas


Christmas is the time for giving and receiving, which is great news for retailers. However, with consumer expectations higher than ever, it also means retailers have to give a little something in return.


The customer experience is no longer restricted to bricks and mortar stores and it's become necessary for retailers to exist across all channels at all times. Giving your customers extra doesn't have to mean slashing prices black Friday style every week until Santa comes. Sometimes, it’s the small touches that can make all the difference. Remember what your mum says, it’s the thought that counts!

The Xmas Files: Retailers, give something back this Christmas

Convenience

People want convenience and they are willing to pay for it. Think the cash machine that charges, Chinese food delivered to your door or using the toilet at the train station. We, as consumers are willing to write off the small fee for the convenience of using the service. The same applies to your retail business.

Offering additional services, such as gift wrapping this Christmas can provide independant's with an edge over the competition. For retailers, Christmas is often described as a marathon, not a sprint, with many shoppers undertaking the task as early as September. There will however, always be those who leave it to the last minute. Last year the Centre for Retail Research announced 12.6 million shoppers hit the high streets on the last weekend before Christmas, a day dubbed ‘panic Saturday’. These are the customers most likely to indulge in low-cost additional services, such as gift wrapping, to reduce the pressure and ease the load before the big day arrives.

Gift wrapping is a great service to offer. It costs very little and can be done by staff at the till quickly and with ease. What you charge is up to you, but don’t price yourself out of the market. Offering different levels of gift wrap is a good way to increase the scope of the price you can request. Premade boxes and bags require little effort, yet premium paper, hand wrapped packages with all the flourish and design of bows and ribbons mean you can afford to charge extra.

The Xmas Files: Retailers, give something back this Christmas

Experience

Increasingly consumers are making their Christmas purchases online. Ecommerce News reported that 76% of Uk consumers bought half their Christmas presents on the internet in 2015. These figures suggest consumers are less reliant on physical stores, preferring to showroom, using stores as a place to examine products before buying them online. To survive, bricks and mortar stores must offer more than the products they’re trying to sell. Creating an engaging, memorable in-store experience will entice shoppers in and encourage them to spend their money while they're there.

Personalisation is fast becoming a key focus for large retailers. A personalised approach ensures customers to feel valued. The benefits of this are twofold, customer retention is improved and these customers become your brand advocates, encouraging their friends and relatives to visit. Physical shops afford customers the opportunity to handle products as well as take them home the same day. A huge pull for both types of shoppers, those who enjoy meandering around the shops, and those who have left it too late to order online.

Offering a personal shopping experience needn’t be a formal event like one the ones associated with high end retailers. Friendly staff building rapport with customers and reaffirming purchase choices helps build a psychological connection.

Fashion retailer Monsoon are a great example of utilising technology to improve the consumer's experience. The floor staff are each provided with ipads with access to live stock information and product pages allowing them to promote complementary or alternative items. Retail Week report this initiative has boosted the average order value by 133%.

Speaking at MAPIC international retail conference in Cannes, retail expert Mary Portas said, “By 2020, experience will take over product and price; people will be spending on experience and using their time creatively.”

The Xmas Files: Retailers, give something back this Christmas

Inspiration

The Christmas holidays are often a source of aggravation for many, especially those who are frustrated by shopping, clueless about what to buy, and have little interest in roaming the shops for that perfect little something. Question: How can retailers assist these customers? Answer: By serving it up on a plate.

Today's consumers are faced with more choice than ever before. We live in a world where you can buy almost anything, at anytime, anywhere. But this choice can be crippling for the uncertain or apprehensive shopper. Many customers embrace the guidance and simplicity an online gift guide offers.

Festive themed gift guides allow retailers the opportunity to showcase items, offer complementary products and upsells, all while offering valuable gift idea suggestions . Categorising products into types, price ranges, gender and age preferences will allow customers to filter by criteria. This means finding a suitable gift for a difficult other half, second cousins kid or office secret santa will be a piece of cake.

The key to creating an engaging online gift guide is eye catching visuals paired with bold creative text that explains why the product would be a great gift for that chosen demographic. Making the categories as clear as possible will allow you customers to navigate the guide with ease. Have clear pricing and shipping information, with a seamless link to your online store. The average online shopping basket abandonment rate is a staggering 68%. Ensuring your online store is mobile friendly, easy to navigate and has a simple and easy payment process is essential in turning browsers into buyers.



AUTHOR

Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.



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