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The 2017 retail holiday season. No doubt, it will be fast, furious and more fractured than ever. With consumers hopscotching from one sales channel to the next, rapidly increasing the number of online buys.
How well are you prepared to serve customers, however they shop? Because the holidays are the busiest time of the year, representing 20% to 30% of annual sales.
The question is: How do you capitalize on in-store customer experiences while courting more digital dollars?
To better manage retail holiday seasonality—and the rest of the year, for that matter—here are five tips for optimizing sales:
This holiday season, many consumers again will use stores as showrooms, only to buy their products elsewhere. After handling the goods, they will consult their price-comparison apps for better deals.
Why not be ready to engage customers, leverage your own app and close the sale in person—not giving the competition a chance?
Here are two proven ideas for winning over in-store customers that can be used during the holidays:
A Harvard Business Review (HBR) case study suggests that retailers stand out from online competitors by featuring products available only in their stores. The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity.
They must be well-differentiated, not something slightly altered that still could be found elsewhere.
Holiday assortments in general might need to be revamped or narrowed to promote select products, which distinguish themselves and sell well.
With 3,500 store closings projected in 2017, the retail industry is weighted down by brick-and-mortar.
Accentuating that problem, online retail sales also are growing faster than total retail sales. Internet Retailer reports the web accounted for nearly 42% of U.S. retail growth in 2016. Of that number, Amazon seized 65.9%.
Online retailing reaches consumers everywhere, with more using the web to make their holiday purchases. By expanding their digital footprints, stores can capture more of the $122.9 billion in non-store holiday sales.
To do that profitably, retailers must virtually extend their operations, without adding fixed store costs or salaried employees.
As online purchases increase during the holidays, retail call centers must be ready to respond.
In-house retail call centers max out fast and are unable to scale up easily and economically for seasonal surges. Good, seasonal agents are limited and take time and money to find and train. Facilities are constrained by space.
By contrast, a virtual contact center is made up of independent contractors, distributed nationwide. With on-demand agents, the contact center can rapidly flex up or down, delivering fast-flex solutions that meet spikes in consumer demand.
Preparing for retail holiday seasonality requires a blended business model.
For example, retailers could promote their mobile apps and tie them into store events. Localytics suggests using “geo-tagging and other location-based tactics to drive users in-store while they are nearby.”
Also, the HBR study recommends that retailers use their websites to educate consumers before they buy. Provide shoppers the complete picture—all in one place, with third-party reviews of products and expert advice.
By applying these five tips, retailers can engage consumers in a more compelling brand experience during the holiday season. An experience that’s likely to generate more sales—both online and in-store—and win loyal customers throughout the year.