Marketing company Aptaris published a very interesting list of holiday trends in retail, with a focus on customer experience (CX) being at the heart of everything that retailers should be planning for this time of year. It’s not that CX is not important at other times of year, but when sales volumes increase and customers are stressed there is an even greater need to focus on the experience.

According to the Aptaris research there are three specific areas where retailers should focus their effort if they want busy customers to notice an improved experience:

  • More personalised shopping; last year just under half of all American shoppers visited Amazon for half or more of their holiday shopping. Amazon excels at offering customers deals and recommendations based on previous purchases and what they are browsing at present. With such a large chunk of the holiday shopping market, being able to emulate what Amazon does well is a good start to improving personalisation.
  • Make the experience remarkable; where remarkable doesn’t have to mean something amazing happens in the store. Customers will usually have quite low expectations of their experience during the holiday season so it’s easier to help them notice that things are not as bad as they could be. Think about basic issues like stock availability, how gifts are presented in-store, and how crowds can be controlled so the in-store environment is busy, but not unpleasant. Ideally you want customers to leave telling their friends how it was a good experience and not at all as they had expected.
  • Frictionless shopping; Check your signs and navigation aids. Help non-regular shoppers find the products they want. Add extra payment options and consider if there are ways your app can be used to improve the experience in-store – such as paying on the app for an item in-store so the customer can skip the checkout line entirely.

These three general guidelines are extremely important for retailers to remember. It may feel like damage control rather than a grand strategy, but when the holiday rush is on, these basics such as getting the signs right, make an enormous difference to the overall customer experience. With so much competition in retail, it makes good business sense to create loyalty by carefully managing the customer experience during the holiday period. Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn.