Driving Holiday Sales Through Great In-Store Experiences

It turns out online shopping isn’t everything. Consumers still crave the experience of in-person brick-and-mortar retail. The entire customer experience—browsing, testing out a product, receiving good customer service—is still highly relevant, filling a desire for human connection that online simply can’t provide. The numbers prove it.

According to Forbes, “Nine of 12 retail categories posted increases in June (2021) sales, including solid gains at electronics and appliance outlets, clothing stores, and restaurants.”

We all know online shopping is here to stay, along with the omnichannel strategy that seeks to merge the digital with the traditional. This omnichannel approach is critically important. But sometimes, it seems too much emphasis is placed on the digital side of the equation.

Social interaction is important. In-store shopping fills that need in a profound and powerful way. People still want to try clothes on, or see the crisp picture on that new HDTV, or try out that cool new laptop in person. But good products alone won’t get your cash register ringing. You need strong customer service as well.

As the holiday season approaches, the need becomes more and more critical to ensure your team gets the retail training they need to assure positive customer experiences.


Differentiated customer service wins the aisle

If your staff seems rusty after a long layoff, you’re not alone. They may need to be re-energized and refreshed in the art of delivering exemplary customer service. And with so many options available to customers, they’re more discerning and informed than ever before. This makes training your staff more difficult…but still critically important.

Just how important? According to a recent Forbes study, “We found that more than 70% of customers will abandon their purchase if they have a bad customer service experience, but 74% are willing to spend more money for good customer service.”

You know you need to train your Holiday staff. But how do you get started? What should you be training them in? SPAR is here to help. If you employ seasonal or surge staff to augment your customer experience teams, or staffing to ensure shelf readiness; SPAR has been there for retailers time and time again to assist in capitalizing on the opportunity to win in the aisles.


Customer Service Secrets to Help You and Your Team

1. Customer Service is everyone’s job

Break down the barriers between sales, cashiers, and stock people. They’re all customer service associates, and should think of themselves that way. In addition, make sure your entire staff knows how to navigate a customer through the stages of the sale. From the minute a customer enters your store, sales associates need to be proactive. Greet customers. Discover what they’re looking for. Create a solution. Close the sale. The good news is, this can be trained and taught, through modular training consisting of short segments, role playing, or even YouTube videos.

2. Start hiring seasonal staff early

This is important. In order to get the most out of the retail holiday season, you need to start thinking about staffing up soon. According to the National Retail Federation, retailers hired 576,800 seasonal retail staff members in 2019 (pre-COVID). It wouldn’t be surprising if this year’s totals surpassed those by a lot. That means you’ll need to start hiring early. Think about your needs, from curbside, to delivery, to more sales associates, and hire accordingly.

This is not an area where you want to wait until the last minute. Not when 56% of shoppers chose where to purchase based on previous in-store shopping experiences.

3. Make sure your in-store team is focused on relevant topics

You’re ready to go. You’ve got the right team in place. They’ve got the right training, and have role-played various customer service scenarios. But even with all that, you’ve got to make sure your customer service team is focused on the relevant topics to your customer. Make sure everyone is up-to-date on the latest promotions and special offers. They need to know your store’s inventory, and where customers can find that must-have holiday season item.

Additionally, they need to be ready to answer the most frequent questions, and have the ability to anticipate customer questions in order to provide a winning customer experience. Remember that statistic: 56% of shoppers chose where to purchase based on previous in-store shopping experiences.


Playing to win the aisle

If you do all this (and it won’t be easy) you’ll be in good position to have a fantastic holiday retail shopping season. Just as important, you’ll be providing a winning customer service experience, which creates return customers, strong word-of-mouth, and ultimately higher sales year-round.

How do you play to win the aisle? By being knowledgeable. Customer-relevant. And differentiated in the aisles with customer experience excellence.

That’s how you become the brand customers talk about…for all the right reasons.

SPAR is an international provider of merchandising services in 10 countries, including the U.S. With 50+ years in the industry, we are a leader that deploys skilled reps on behalf of some of the biggest names in retail, consumer products and retailers.