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Despite the hopes, dreams and best laid plans of Britain’s retailers, figures for last Christmas were the worst on record for a decade, according to a British Retail Consortium report. It’s grim reading, and while planning for the peak festive sales season is well under way for most, how many are set to roll out a Christmas plan that’s similar or a re-run of last year? Customers love the familiarity of festive traditions and celebrations, but unfortunately for retailers, a failure to change tactics is likely to mean sleepwalking into yet another set of poor festive results.
The best way to address this is to start with a true understanding of last year’s performance. This means of course a review of sales, product lines and operations, plus an analysis of customer data and probably a look around at the competitor landscape (Free checklist available here).
Then there’s the sophisticated tech to make sense of it all and show how to maximise revenues from each Christmas shopper who clicks on your site or walks through your door. The retail industry is awash with new ever more high-tech ways to drive business models forward and better understand, segment and sell to customers. All of which can lead you to a dynamic new plan that will propel your company and its sales into a successful season.
It’s at this point however that I’d urge all retailers to pause and switch their focus.
Yes, we all need to drive our businesses forward with new ideas, solutions and a customer-centric strategy. But before leaping forward with that plan, I think it’s vital to first take a step back and look carefully at the roots of your retail business. Because in my view, here lies the secret to sales success this Christmas.
This is not nostalgia for the good old days of retail, Christmas past!
This is about a reappraisal of frontline retail teams, and the powerful results that can be achieved by turning them into brilliant customer champions in store: at each till, department and shop floor across the business. The big strategic picture for Christmas will of course be hatched at HQ, but it is on the shop floor of each outlet that the battle for festive sales will be won - or lost.
And that makes your local branch managers and staff your most important asset. So how can you make sure they’re equipped to deliver a positive story for your business this festive season?
Critizr is in the business of customer feedback and our platform reflects co-founder Nicolas Hammer’s vision that true customer-centricity can’t happen from the top down; it has to be adopted company wide, by every team and member of staff. So while Critizr generates feedback and insight for senior management to plan for the long term, it is also anchored in the daily lives of local managers and staff. They can log in to the platform to understand instantly what their customers love and what they don’t, what’s working, what’s not and where improvements can be made.
The biggest challenges we see our clients face is implementing HQ’s strategic and tactical plans on the shop floor, especially for large multiple retailers with hundreds of stores around the country, with all the regional and contextual variations that brings. Bridging that disconnect between is critical. But how many retailers are hatching dynamic plans centrally, whilst at the grassroots of their business branch staff are dusting down last year’s decorations?
Christmas is also a busy time for branch staff. They’re dealing with busy shop floors, seasonal product lines, temporary staff, window displays, new marketing initiatives and some ambitious sales targets.
How are you helping your staff to meet this challenge and get it right for their customers? Shiny new decorations and promotional plans are the icing on the cake. But to effect meaningful business change, more important than any centralised sales and marketing plan, is local staff empowerment. We have worked with retailers across Europe for 8 years, and the result of giving frontline staff the tools to properly listen to and understand their customers and to take quick and efficient action in their own store are nothing short of a Christmas miracle!
Firstly, it’s not too late. Christmas planning may well be underway but implementing systems to improve customer feedback and make it locally actionable can be set up to scale with relative ease, even for companies with hundreds of local branches.
What does Critizr recommend for Festive success?
Get it right, and this is a formidable force in revenue generation.
If you're looking to get set for Christmas, exclusively this summer we have special offering - which can be implemented in just 4 weeks - to get effective Customer Feedback Management in place for the festive period - find out more here.
First published on Internet Retailing on 29.7.19
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