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Boost Retail Customer Experience Before Seasonal Peak Times

As a small business owner, the retail customer experience is something you’re frequently looking to improve—especially if your busy season is looming. Equally important is the return-on-investment (ROI) impact that occurs when your customers have an enjoyable experience with your brand.

Of course, this means both the retail customer experience of your online presence and in-person location should be stellar. With that in mind, you might feel a bit overwhelmed at accomplishing this before your seasonal peak period. That’s where we can help. Review this list packed full of helpful ideas to boost your retail customer experience—and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Manage Your Star Player: Inventory

Your retail customer experience is tied directly to your inventory. That is, to be successful, you must ensure you have the appropriate stock, storage space, and item count.

Plan Your Season

Whether you’re still learning the market or you’re a seasoned retail veteran, you’re likely aware that planning is the best way to stay prepared. 

Spend some time researching your industry to consider what trends to expect this year. Use current and historical knowledge of your customers and the season to know what will likely be popular.

Additionally, become extremely familiar with your inventory software and any time-saving features it may offer. Of course, if applicable, make sure that your program works accurately for both in-store and online inventory.

Keeping Up with Demand during Peak Seasons

As you continue to do business and learn about your customers, you’ll get an idea of item tracking and demand. Furthermore, you’ll become familiar with shipping times and how long it takes to restock inventory.

With that in mind, you can set a reorder value that sends alerts when a restock should be initiated. If your inventory program has the capability, consider categorizing items based on popularity. These features can help keep your inventory properly stocked during peak season and give you peace of mind.

Turnover Effects on the Retail Customer Experience

That said, the space set aside for your inventory (or lack thereof) can affect the retail customer experience. Aim to optimize your space so your customers can easily access the most popular items. In addition, give enough space for your high-demand items so you don’t have to downstock as often.

As always, continue to monitor your inventory turnover and prevent ordering in excess. As items become obsolete, you might choose to clearance these items to allow space for new products. Ensure they don’t take up too much space and frustrate customers. Also note that, over time, older inventory can end up looking unsightly, which can affect how your customers see your business.

Get the Word Out to Benefit the Retail Customer Experience

Promotional Marketing

Start your peak season off with a bang by planning your marketing campaign well in advance. As a result, you’ll have a successful (and profitable) retail customer experience. 

Design engaging physical and digital marketing content for a consistent experience with great brand recognition. Strategically plan the release of your materials to inform potential customers of important dates, sales, promotions, and more.

Additionally, encourage email subscribers to sign up for monthly messaging to get exclusive access to new products and news. Generate excitement by sharing sneak peeks of new products or adding countdowns to your upcoming events.

Pro Tip: Increase customer loyalty and retention with personalized emails, which are directly linked to an increased ROI.

Proactive Communication

As peak season approaches, be sure to prepare your customers with clear communication, especially during the holidays. Specifically, you’ll want to ensure that all customer-facing outlets (email, in-store, social media, website, and in-app) have consistent and cohesive messaging:

  • Updated or temporary operating hours
  • Website or in-store changes
  • Shipping times and cutoffs, especially for holiday delivery
  • Return window adjustments
  • Special event alerts

Location and Web Design Accessibility

Optimizing the retail customer experience might include making updates to improve accessibility. Whether online or in-store, there are a number of ways to have the best peak season yet.

Your Store Layout and Pathing

Updating or adjusting the interior structure of your store can aid in the retail customer experience.

  • Walkways and Traffic: With your experience and data from other seasons, try to improve high-traffic areas with more space and less clutter.
  • Promotional Areas: Have a designated spot for your promotional and high-demand items with a clear indication of their location.
  • Vertical Space: If you can do so safely, use vertical space to display your products in a way that engages your customers.

Pro Tip: These ideas work for your online store too! Review your online traffic to improve the retail customer experience on your digital shop or website. Designate a specific location online for your promotional items and engage your customers with eye-catching vertical imagery.

Engage and Delight with Optimized Signage

Adjust your signage where appropriate to prepare for your high-traffic season. Consider strategic placement that will enhance the retail customer experience. As always, stay consistent with your brand using engaging and concise messaging.

  • Drive traffic from your parking lot with feather flags or sign spinners, and near your entrance with A-frame signs or logo projectors.
  • Get interactive with your customers by using QR codes or NFC tags that can be scanned to give access to exclusive information.
  • Show the way with digital signage or floor stickers to capture attention and point the way to promotional items.
  • Boost sales with POP (point-of-purchase) displays near the checkout area to encourage last-minute deals or impulse purchases.
  • Get festive by incorporating seasonal themes into your signage to enhance the retail customer experience.

Enhancing the Retail Customer Experience with New Tech

Additionally, you might want to promote your peak season by debuting technological improvements for the retail customer experience.

  • Use contactless payment or mobile POS systems to cut down wait times and improve speed of service.
  • Leverage email automation for personalized marketing to upsell based on customer activity.
  • Host an AI chatbot to expedite customer support services and empower the customer with information.
  • Integrate with ecommerce programs to improve CX with BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) options, and improve your return and exchange process both online and offline.
  • Debut a new or improved mobile app with expanded features and a user-friendly layout.

Maintain a Strong Team for Enhanced Retail Customer Experience

Your staff is an integral part of your business. As such, it’s important to maintain high morale during the peak season.

Caring for Your Staff

  • Staffing schedules: During your peak season, ensure you have enough staff to handle your busy times. Do your best to be flexible, and overlap shifts that make sense.
  • Rewarding experiences: Peak season can be stressful and difficult. Offer incentives during the peak or post-season to show your appreciation.
  • Supportive leadership: Employees work best when they feel heard and supported. Create a positive environment for your team and encourage open communication.
  • Backup plans: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about here. Life happens, and some things are out of your control. Plan for emergency situations where you’re low on staff or receive inventory ahead of time.
  • Celebrate good times: Share in individual and company successes with parties to honor achievements.

Train for Retail Customer Experience Success

It’s important to train your staff and prepare them for what to expect during high-traffic seasons. By doing so, you ensure the retail customer experience is optimized for success.

  • Product Knowledge: Ensure your employees have an in-depth understanding of the products offered, whether new or existing. Give them a way to access tools to learn more.
  • Conflict Resolution: Share tools and techniques with your staff for handling customer complaints with grace and effective communication.
  • Stress Management: Peak season stresses can be high no matter what season they occur in. Provide resources that encourage a positive environment and frequent breaks to recharge.
  • Visual Merchandising: Train your team to effectively top stock and maintain engaging displays to enhance the retail customer experience.
  • Emergency and Safety: Stay on top of emergency and safety training for a safe and healthy environment. Ensure evacuation plans are in accessible areas for unexpected weather or other urgent situations.

Improve your Seasonal Retail Customer Experience with a Mystery Shop

If you’re not sure where to begin improving your retail customer experience, consider a CustomerOptix CX evaluation or customer survey. With our customizable evaluation programs, you can gain crucial insights from the customer's point of view, as well as competitive intelligence to win against your competitors.

Create your customized program without a contract in as little as 10 minutes—then get actionable data in as little as 72 hours.

Ensure Success by Improving Your Retail Customer Experience

In the evolving retail environment, it’s important to stay proactive and continuously improve customer satisfaction. In short, understanding your customers' needs can help you create a delightful retail customer experience. Efficient store operations and cared-for staff will keep customers coming back—effectively improving your bottom line. 

In conclusion, implementing even a few of these strategies before your peak season can set a strong foundation for success.