Your guide to the holiday season: 3 tips for retailers

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It’s never too early to start preparing for the holiday season. And this year, retailers are scrambling to figure out what this year’s season may actually look like.

In the wake of digital transformation and pandemic response, this holiday season most consumers still want what they always have wanted from retailers: deliver the right product as fast as possible, with real-time updates, and seamless customer service.

Knowing this is one thing. Being able to deliver it is another. The holiday season is a brawl for brands to appeal to customers and win their loyalty. Every decision counts, and based on what you do, you could destroy brand value or rocket it towards success. For successful retailers, one thing is key: preparation.

According to the National Retail Federation, ecommerce in retail during the 2020 holiday grew 23.9% last year—and it is projected to continue growing by another 18-23% this year. During this holiday season that is sure to be as hectic as any other, here are key strategies from our Holiday Strategy Guide to help your brand prepare to come out on top.

1. Deploy flexible work-from-home (WFH) staff

The pandemic proved that remote WFH customer support is effective, nimble, secure, and won’t break the bank. The flexibility of service capabilities brought on by remote work enables retailers to readily deploy emergency staff in times of distress. When volume surges or the unexpected happens, organizations can pivot and scale support capacity quickly to meet customer needs across channels.

In a collection of research data synthesized by Forbes, they found that WFH staff are up to 40% more effective than in-person counterparts, in addition to higher performance and engagement. This workforce comes at a price—a lower one, with companies saving an average of $11,000 per year per remote worker. The reduced emissions produced by reduced commutes will also raise your brand’s ESG standards, which customers have become increasingly cognizant of.

2. Be reliable with real-time information

Have you ever ordered a time-sensitive gift, only to be left effectively in the dark about where that gift is and when it might get to you? Customers are concerned about availability and delivery dates, especially during the holidays. They want to be updated at every single point of the journey. In 2017, 97% of customers reported that they expect order tracking and real-time communication about their purchases.

Direct-to-consumer, subscription, and digital brick-and-mortar that can quickly reassure customers that gifts will arrive on time, or effectively communicate changes, will allow them to feel in control of their purchases. Rather than stress about when the delivery might arrive, your updates will allow them to relax and enjoy the holiday season—they’ll remember that.

3. Optimize the cloud

If a person interacts with customer service during the rush of the holiday season, there is a heightened chance of delivering a poor experience. Too often, legacy systems are overwhelmed and there’s no integration among disparate channels. Migrating to Cloud contact center services enables your organization to holistically interact with customers in the channels they prefer while optimizing technology, processes, and people.

A cloud contact center system is perfect for omnichannel interactions that are the lifeblood of direct-to-consumer, subscription, and many brick-and-mortar retailers by supporting a single view of the customer. Organizations can provide a seamless customer experience within and across channels, including voice, email, chat, messaging, SMS, co-browse, and social.

These are just a few of our best retail strategies to prepare for the holiday season. See what else is in our gift bag by downloading the strategy guide, “5 Key Strategies for Retailers this Holiday Season.”