Steady customer traffic is what every retail company wants in its stores, but do companies perform as well during the unexpected busy times as they do for the expected high-volume periods?
Companies benefit from an increased number of customer visits only if associates meet customer demands during the rush. To do this, companies need to prepare an approach and strategy to adapt for larger crowds. Companies anticipate busy times, such as the holidays, by stocking up with the right items, carrying items within the appropriate price ranges and learning from past holiday trends about which items to carry and how many. As Inc.com points out, some companies prepare well for the fast-paced holiday selling time by instructing employees to be honest about possible wait times.
Extending hours is another way for retailers to cope with greater crowds, and companies in Alabama did this last month during Alabama's sales tax holiday. Other companies consider preparation beyond the in-store experience, especially those who encourage customers to visit their website if a product is not available at the store. For example, retailers ensure that their website pages load quickly, or they risk that potential customers will abandon the page and shop elsewhere. As internetretailer.com reveals, 40% of customers will leave a company’s website if the page does not load within three seconds.
Sometimes though, demanding selling times can take stores by surprise. During busy times, managers hope that employees respond quickly and deliver great service to all those that demand it – so that the company may capitalize on the higher volumes. When management fails to prepare, or if the company reaches more customers with an advertising effort than anticipated, diminished sales may be the unwelcome result.
Take LivingSocial, for example. A recent article discusses the impact of successful LivingSocial offers on the customer experience. At times, discount offers bring in more customers than the company can handle, and customers become annoyed rather than “wowed,” leaving a negative impact on profits and employee morale. A bed and breakfast in West Virginia that implemented a LivingSocial campaign, for example, was so inundated with inquiries that employees could not keep up phone answering and voice mailboxes overloaded. To guide companies, companies such as LivingSocial and Groupon offer welcome kits that provide tips on how to prepare employees for the increase in phone and web inquiries that result from the offer. The companies that prepare employees well reap the most success from the group offers.
Whether it is a sales tax holiday, a Groupon offer, or the holidays, retail stores can be ready for a big inflow of customers. With the right measures in place, retail stores look forward to extra customers and extra sale dollars.