A slump in festive shoppers hitting the high street shows that retailers must develop an omni-channel sales strategy and not rely on slashing prices, an e-commerce specialist warns.
As more people turn to online shopping during the festive season, major retailers need to go the extra mile to meet their customers' expectations, says Dan Wagner, CEO of Powa Technologies.
And with the number of shoppers hitting the high street this Christmas slumping by 9 per cent, decision-makers are advised to act now if they want to avoid a repeat next year.
A major trend going into 2016 could see retailers developing an omni-channel sales strategy, so that they can engage and entice consumers throughout the year and boost sales between October and December, when stores typically make up to 40 per cent of the year’s revenue.
Businesses need to come to terms with the shifting demands of holiday shoppers, who are turning to e-commerce in their droves and are expecting a quality consumer experience, says Wagner.
However, as the volumes of online shoppers surges during peak periods, it is becoming ever more difficult for retailers to service high volumes of online traffic on their websites, deliver their product on-time and provide a consistent high quality consumer experience to every single potential client.
As online sales events, such as Black Friday, become big business days in their own right, businesses are advised to develop new strategies which allow them to provide a high quality experience by drawing the correct strategies from past learnings. Recent years have witnessed the rise of a few trends that have enabled business to cope with holiday season business surges effectively.
Wagner says that as online and mobile platforms become the preferred media for Christmas shopping, it is important that businesses learn from past experiences and customer feedback and work towards creating a seamless shopping experience for the consumer.
'Innovative mobile commerce solutions can help by providing invaluable insight into customer behaviour during the festive shopping season while at the same time contributing towards making it an even more seamless experience,' he adds.
'Gaining analytics on consumer behaviour is also vital for retailers if they want to power growth, as they can adapt their sales strategies and target particular consumers throughout the year.'
A reliance on discounting
Currently retailers are relying on improving sales figures and getting more people through the door by heavily discounting goods during sales, such as Black Friday or in January, but that is just damaging profits, Wagner argues.
'Many leading brands are now turning away from this model and are focusing instead on improving customer engagement and providing shoppers with an omni-channel experience, which allows them to purchase items at their leisure.'
Retailers must not depend on these events to boost sales, but they will undoubtedly continue, Wagner warns.
To make the most of days like the Boxing Day sales, retailers must plan weeks in advance and incorporate their consumer engagement with their omni-channel sales strategies, as preparation is key.
Businesses need to also ensure that everyone who is working during the festive season is ready to deal with drastic surges in online traffic, orders and enquiries. This means needing to be ready throughout the period and having all the various teams connected, potentially applying the festive season’s drills weeks in advance to prepare the teams.
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See also: Small Business Service criticised