A Five-Point Checklist for the Holiday Shopping Season
The Halloween costume pop-up stores are gone, and they’re starting to be replaced by other seasonal attractions. Before long the snow will by flying, and shoppers will be ready to hit the stores before work, on their lunch hours, and late into the evening. The very brave will hit the doorbusters. Is your business ready for the onslaught?
By now you’ve already employed your seasonal hires and the inventory is waiting in the warehouse. But just in case you haven’t reviewed your to-do list lately, our Retail Practice Group has assembled a five-point checklist to help your operation run smoothly at year end, whether you’re a retailer, landlord or service provider. And it may just give you a head start on 2015.
Technology and Infrastructure
IBM predicts a record year for mobile shopping, in some cases replacing the rush to stores on Thanksgiving. If the trend continues, companies will need to invest in ongoing infrastructure upgrades to support the increased online traffic. This is a good time to check with your IT department to ensure that all necessary vendor agreements are in place and that you have sufficient capacity and data security measures. In addition, learn what measurement systems are in place so you can monitor the traffic and plan ahead for necessary upgrades.
Employing Seasonal Workers
The outlook is good for seasonal workers and not just in retail. Many companies seeking to close out the year will look to bolster their permanent staff with temporary resources. If your company has extra hands on deck this winter, check to be sure that your human resources policies and procedures for this category of employee are up-to-date. Also, with the elections just behind us, be sure you are prepared to comply with state minimum wage increases and any other changes to employment laws.
Supply Chain Management
As frazzled retail workers try to keep the warehouses full of the “it” toy every year, check on your supply chain. How tight is it? Be sure that all goods – whole or component parts – are legitimate. Ensure that all your business partners commit to genuine, top-notch service and supplies, just as you do.
Although we know foot traffic continues to wane, there are still places shoppers will frequent during the season. Some outlets, such as quick-service restaurants and coffee shops, are using mobile applications to drive foot traffic. If the ground floor of your office tower or the corner of your mall has that all-vital java stop for tired shoppers, be sure that your IT infrastructure can handle the mobile technology. Once shoppers are in the store, provide a safe and secure customer experience by making sure your facilities team complies with all health and safety requirements. Busy season is no time to slack on these items.
And finally, there’s nothing like a disgruntled customer during the holiday rush. It puts stress on the floor employees, burdens your customer support department, and damages your brand. So take a moment to make sure your advertising claims (not just advertisements, but fliers and direct mail too) are not only compliant but easy-to-understand and welcoming to the customer.
You may have addressed most if not all of our checklist items much earlier in the year. But it’s not too early to think about 2015 and make sure that the foundations you have in place now set you on an even better path for next year. Happy retailing!