The winter holidays are traditionally a make-or-break period for retailers. Increasingly the retail technology experience has a major impact on end-of-year results.  So which key technologies and retailing approaches can help ensure a happy holiday?

This year, as 2021 nears an end, we are hearing all about supply chain issues and the difficulty retailers are anticipating in being able to offer shoppers the right items, in the right volumes, at the right time and right price.

But putting supply chain issues to the side, the retailers who are most likely to do best under potentially challenging circumstances will be those who have embraced a unified commerce platform approach that enables insights and makes customer shopping experiences as easy and delightful as possible. The right systems also enable insights and accurate planning across the business. There is the double win of knowing what to expect, based on historic data, and having the ability to process all types of customer transactions on any channel in an efficient, seamless way.

Unified commerce drives better service
A robust POS and inventory management system that is fully integrated with online platforms, providing real-time visibility across channels is still high on the Christmas list for many retail IT leaders.

To manage peak sales periods and provide great customer service, a popular option is to invest in a modern scalable SaaS-based system. The ability to automate cross-channel inventory, financials, order processing and fulfilment processes, in an affordable way is an attractive option, allowing retailers to focus on growth, without the headache of tech problems slowing things down during the lucrative holiday peak.

At holiday time the spotlight shines more strongly than ever on the shopping experience retailers can provide. Therefore, it’s vital for key in-store technology to integrate with an array of services and solutions such as eReceipts, ERP, CRM systems, loyalty and ecommerce systems, to offer exceptional, glitch-free services for the savvy shopper.

Avoid lines and annoyed shoppers at your checkouts
The National Retail Federation just released a forecast indicating that holiday sales for 2021 will grow between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over 2020, meaning that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Super Saturday certainly offer major sales and marketing opportunities for retailers in the nearing season.   If the anticipated shopping frenzy hits stores it will be more important than ever to have mobile POS terminals and self-service options available for shoppers, particularly if retail labor shortages continue. These can dramatically reduce issues with shoppers standing in line and can take the stress off store staff while ensure sales aren’t lost. And, most important it makes demanding customers very happy!

If you can provide sales staff with tablets or handheld devices that enabling quick ordering of out-of-stock items, your customers will love you forever. During the global pandemic, many retailers responded by setting up BOPIS and BORIS systems to allow order and inventory visibility and complete the omnichannel service circle. 

Industry research has consistently shown that most shoppers crave omnichannel consistency across their purchasing journeys. With kiosks, handheld devices used by staff, and a unified commerce view at the point of sale or collection, the holidays really can bring a little extra sparkle to retail.

Make the most of every sale
Experience has shown that click-and-collect drives people into stores throughout December providing up-selling opportunities, and that around 18th December panic sets in with many online shoppers feeling deliveries won’t arrive in time and then opting to try to buy in-person, in-store.

There are many reasons why shoppers visit stores in the run up to Christmas. It’s a manic time, but retailers can meet these complex needs, and avoid a “Nightmare before Christmas”, by having the right retail systems in place that deliver the wonderful, seamless shopping experience that every customer deserves.

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