Retailers can be easily substituted; people and communities cannot. Physical retail lifts the curtain on the app and online world of retail to expose the human side. Make it count. As the store merchandises your products, your people merchandise your brand and connect it to a place.
Seek ways to demonstrate the human side of the store experience through elevated service levels and make it known that your people care. There is a big opportunity with BOPIS and curbside pick-up customers, where retailers can connect at a higher level than an anonymous UPS delivery.
Learn and adapt.
Retailers also now face a host of new operational complexities. The pandemic has been an accelerator of BOPIS and curbside programs, meaning a lack of historical data from previous seasons to forecast what will happen. In most cases, human resources, space requirements, processes, IT contingencies, and the unintended consequences of these new business methods will be battle-tested for the first time.
Shopper expectations are high, so be aggressive behind the scenes to adapt, adopt, and scale the adjustments and insights quickly to avoid aggravating shoppers. We’re already seeing retailers such as Target prepare, announcing it would change its staffing approach, dedicating more workers to same-day services such as curbside pick-up and hiring more people at distribution centers.
“We’re all in this together” has become a cliche, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore what is behind it. The holidays are a perennial source of tension, pandemic, or not. Retailers need to take the effort to treat employees and customers with a heaping dose of grace. We all need to do what we can to respect each other, knowing that we can never know what someone else may be dealing with in these challenging times.
The retail industry has the opportunity to turn this season into a critical first step in reengaging with shoppers for the long term by giving them a much-needed dose of joy. More than any other business enterprise, retail is the face of the holidays, so let’s all face it with a smile. Retailers are, in fact, all in this together.
Bill Chidley is a partner and executive director of strategy & insights at ChangeUp.