The COVID-19 crisis has caused supply chains to be disrupted around the world, forcing companies into rethinking how they manage production, inventories, and almost every aspect of their operations. With the holiday season fast approaching, retail leaders and entrepreneurs will need to increase visibility over personnel, assets, and cash flow dependencies to meet increased demand.
The trend towards seasonal shopping has been increasing in recent years. About 40% of people started crossing items off their holiday list before Halloween. To ensure that customers can shop without stress and avoid long lines or shipping delays, retailers should keep their seasonal stock levels up.
As summer winds down, it is time to plan for a holiday season. It could be busier than ever. Consider the following steps to help ensure a pleasant winter season.
1. Plan your marketing strategy and promotion.
Digital marketing is going to be most crucial channel in your holiday shopping season. Don’t think of your message as a standalone entity. Your marketing strategy should reflect your target customer’s buyer journey across all media. Jeff Bradbury is the senior marketing director for enterprise for Hughes Network Systems. He advocates an omnichannel approach, which integrates all digital and instore technologies to engage potential buyers. With an emphasis on driving traffic in-store
Bradbury states that customers desire seamless shopping experiences across all channels, including online and offline. These interactions rely on the essential integration between network systems. “A successful omnichannel system collaboration allows retailers to use their internet capabilities to encourage people into stores. There, the customer experience continues, and customer loyalty increases based on the positive in-store experience.
Effective marketing and promotion will require proper planning. This is why you may want to plan all outreach campaigns (including social media communications) well before your plan to share them with customers. Consider using significant dates and events such as Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday, and so on. To anchor your content strategy, plan your promotions to coincide with your current inventory. Consider marketing surplus products to customers as “gifts,” They can either purchase now and ship later or as add-ons.
2. Your approach to hiring seasonal workers should be developed.
Adding warehouse workers, delivery drivers, or customer service representatives to your team may take time. It doesn’t matter what kind of store you-run; you will have to consider legal and tax implications when hiring contractors. You might also need to schedule time for professional advice. All types of job seekers are in high demand as the labor market recovers after its recession. Hire now, not later.
There are essential differences between full-time, seasonal workers and contractors. It is worth taking the time to assess your needs before deciding how to boost your workforce. Contractors could be the right choice if you only require one-off assistance for a specific initiative or someone who can help in the case of an unexpected spike in buying activity. If you are looking to add new members to your team, the next few months can be an excellent opportunity to evaluate potential full-time candidates. Seasonal work allows you to determine how these people fit into your team. If they can handle the holiday pressures, they may be an excellent addition to your company’s long-term team.
3. AI is used to optimize inventory flow.
This year’s holiday season will likely be more challenging than previous years because of various factors. Forecasting will be more difficult if your products are new or targeted at new customers. But it will also be crucial to accurately set sales targets, implement effective pricing and manage your inventory. This will ensure that you have a successful year. Retailers have the advantage of AI-based technology that can assist them in getting it right.
Ali Hasan R., CEO, and co-founder of ThroughPut Inc., which creates AI-powered supply chain tools, said that software could eliminate the guesswork from forecasting. “Historical data doesn’t give you all you need about future demand fluctuations. According to him, AI-driven demand sensing algorithms will provide accurate forecasts that can be learned from other items and stores. These tools will allow you to obtain detailed information from parallel marketing events and provide a wealth of information on how a new product/service reacts to demand trends and price changes.
To calibrate your holiday season operations, there is a wealth of data that you can access. AI makes it possible to draw valuable, actionable insights faster than with traditional business intelligence tools. This is your opportunity to use it to your advantage.
4. Make a plan to address COVID-19 safety concerns.
Consumer preferences for curbside pickups and contactless payment have dramatically changed since the pandemic. More than half the consumers will shop with retailers that accept contactless payment than a competitor who doesn’t. It is a best idea to invest in no-touch, high-quality payment solutions that will give you an advantage over other retail businesses that have not yet made the transition.
Contactless payment systems go beyond protecting customers. Contactless payment systems allow you to offer faster, more seamless checkout experiences, leading to increased sales. In-store signage might be an option, which will provide clear instructions on how to use contactless options. Support staff could be hired to help customers at the checkout.
You’ll need to make decisions regarding hiring and in-store communications before the holiday season starts. Do your research now and get started on your plan to meet customer demand. Before you know it, the busy shopping season is upon us.