How an Online Strategy Can Help Your Brick-and-Mortar Store This Holiday Season

While consumers may wince at earlier-than-ever Christmas displays in department stores–or rejoice the highly anticipated holiday-themed drinks– the holiday season sneaks up earlier every year. But for savvy retailers and marketers, it’s a reminder that to get their holiday sales strategies into high gear.

Predictions for 2015 holiday (November-January) retail sales look good. Deloitte predicts a 4% increase from last year, and eMarketer predicts as much as 5.7%. Many independent retailers rely on the holiday sales bump to move them from red to black, but what are the best strategies? We’re quickly moving to an online-first mentality in retail, and a strong omnichannel strategy is almost a non-negotiable. We talk at length about the right tips and tricks to help your online store compete with big box online retailers– but retailers can also put some of those same strategies into play in their brick-and-mortar store. With a true omnichannel strategy, your most successful holiday season awaits:

Invest in your data. Just as you’d invest in an email marketing program that gives you access to crucial customer data, the data you can gather in-store is equally important. Early planning leaves you time to invest in the right tech, like a POS system that captures crucial historical data. With the right data mining, retailers can better understand who their historical best spenders were, how much they bought last year, and which days were the busiest. Armed with that information, adjust revenue counts and staff schedules to prepare for busier days and send the right personalized emails and discounts to get your best shoppers moving.

Don’t keep your customers waiting. There’s a slew of eCommerce vendors offering “one click checkout” and two day shipping for a reason– we’re an impatient crew. An easy check-out system helps reduce the rate of the dreaded “abandoned (virtual) shopping cart”– and the same logic applies to their in-store shopping cart. Customers are in your store for an experience they can’t get online, so help keep them there by ensuring they don’t have to wait too long to pay and get on their way. A few solutions:

  • Hire more staff: Temporary holiday staff can better serve an influx of shoppers, help with merchandising, keep the store looking neat, as well as be an extra lookout for shoplifters.
  • Let shoppers “skip the line”: Invest in mobile check-out systems that let your employees check shoppers out right on the floor. Shoppers will feel like they’ve “skipped the line” and can be on their way faster than ever, while still receiving a bit of personal staff attention on their way out.
  • Use tablets to look up merchandise: Online shoppers are never left waiting for a sales associate to “search the back” for another size or item. Bring the online experience in store for them by arming your staff with iPads that have your point of sale app and inventory at the ready. Sales associates can easily look up items on the spot– and make personalized recommendations that can be missing from the online experience.

Streamline online and offline:. According to recent research by Deloitte, almost a third of shoppers that use digital devices to help them make purchase decisions end up spending more. Make sure your site lists the brands you carry, and make sure your site is mobile-optimized: in-store sales conversion rates are a whopping 20% higher when people use digital while they shop (compared to people who don’t). You should also bolster your online presence with well maintained Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts– don’t wait until the holiday season is in full swing to start growing your presence and followers. A well-organized site makes it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for, so be sure your in-store experience matches what they’re accustomed to seeing online.  Displays and set-ups that mirror an online experience help customers make that omnichannel connection and ensure they don’t give up in pursuit of what they came for.

Adrian Pike, VP of Marketing at Lightspeed POS


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