Christmas is always an exciting time of year for retailers across the UK, presenting opportunities for brands to attract and retain customers for the year ahead. The more switched-on retailers have already identified that consumer behaviour will play out differently than it did in the run up to the festive period in 2020. Whereas last year’s holiday season took place at the height of the pandemic, shoppers and retailers are now looking to get back to normal whilst employing more shopping habits embraced during the pandemic.
Over the next 5 weeks, consumers will shop differently—both in how much they buy and how they do it. Here are 5 trends for retailers to look out (and prepare) for:
Physical retail will be fully embraced: Last year, Santa’s shopping list was purchased online, but this year consumers are eager to get back in stores to buy physical items. Shopping destinations like St. James Quarter are putting the magic back into Christmas shopping using physical retail, by delivering a mix of high energy entertainment underpinned by a friendly and engaging in-store experience throughout the centre.
The size of the prize is bigger than ever: Brits plan to spend big this Christmas. With nearly £200bn in accumulated lockdown savings, the majority of consumers say they plan to splash the cash between now and Christmas. Excellent marketing will get customers through the door, but store teams have the responsibility to maximise spend and provide shoppers with a reason to return by delivering an experience that’s unforgettable and will increase likelihood to return and recommend.
Supply chain issues will highlight the need for great service. Well publicised issues with supply chains mean that many Christmas favourites will be in short supply. Brands which up until now have relied on a plethora of (cheap) products as their main selling point must now use customer experience to differentiate themselves as highlighted in this intelligent article by Forrester.
Staff shortages could impact CX performance: As high levels of employee absence continue, and recruitment of the best people is becoming increasingly difficult, stores are using signage and IT solutions to help guide customers through the in-store experience. It’s important to recognise that some customers – particularly the older generations – are less comfortable using tech. Staff still need to be deployed alongside technology to ensure these systems are working to support all customers. It must be remembered the human touch is still important in relation to some facets of the customer experience regardless of age, and that a hybrid approach is often the best strategy as eloquently outlined by Jo Causon at the Institute of Customer Service recently.
Return flexibility matters: Return policies will be an important consideration for customers this holiday season. A Christmas return policy extending how long customers have to return items, such as that implemented by Superdry recently, will go a long way to enticing indecisive customers. The flexibility to buy online and return in store will also play an important role in their decision-making process.
By acknowledging what customers want, and delivering it, there is a huge opportunity for retailers serious about service to increase market share whilst their competitors are failing to understand the importance of customer experience to post-pandemic consumers.
A sales through service strategy is undoubtedly a winning strategy for all retailers to adopt. For more information about sales through service modelling, and to gain access to our benchmarking data, please get in touch.
React CX is an Elite member of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Professionals Association) Europe/Africa. For further information: React CX, Bank House, 15 Gosditch St, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2AG