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How retailers can master the January sales

Martin Smethurst, MD of retail at Wincor Nixdorf tells Talk Retail how retailers can get the most out of the January sales. 

The January sales are one of the busiest trading periods in the calendar. With that, it can be easy for retailers to side-track one of the things which they strive to achieve throughout the rest of the year; a seamless experience for customers.

The Boxing Day sales topped £3 billion alone in 2014 as the focus shifted from buying presents for friends and family to spending gift cards and cash in the January sales. Besides coping with an increase in footfall during the weeks of the sales, retailers also have to balance the aftermath of Christmas gift refunds, with it being estimated that £223m worth of unwanted Christmas gifts will be returned to retailers during the January period.

Employee and customer interaction

A familiar scene during the January sales can be that of a lengthy queue of bargain hunters at the point of sales by the time customers finally reach the check out, any employee and customer interaction may be too late. Therefore, the time customers spend browsing and walking the store could be a perfect opportunity for mobilised employees to approach customers with any sale offers, answer any inventory questions and help with checkout where required. Not only can this help to increase the customer’s basket size but can significantly improve the overall customer experience.

Don’t be afraid to bring the internet into store

According to research carried out by IMRG and Capgemini, multi-channel retailers with a physical store presence delivered stronger growth in m-commerce sales during the first half of 2014 compared with their only online counterparts, suggesting that before the customer even enters your store they are already well-informed. So rather than leaving customers to do their research of competitor January sales offerings at home, why not provide them with quality free Wi-Fi in-store so they can check product specs or other prices? They are going to do that one way or another, so it’s better they do those checks in-store where they may buy there and then – rather than be left to do their research at home.

Power of mobile

Another great way to improve customer experience throughout the sales is by optimising the power of the mobile. Throughout the sales period, millions of shoppers will have their smartphone devices to hand, acting as an ideal opportunity for retailers to use geolocation technology, such as iBeacon to alert customers in the area to any special offers or ‘new added lines.’

Click and collect

Finally – it’s important not to forget that a slick click-and-collect service can also affect in-store footfall. Over 58% of John Lewis’s online sales were represented by click-and-collect on Black Friday, surpassing home delivery. Retailers should therefore seize the opportunity of customers visiting the store to collect those items previously purchased online tempting them with complementary sale items located close by the click and collect desk.

Whether it’s a supermarket or a fashion retailer, the January sales highlight just how intense shopping has become for retailers by the increased frequency of transactions and customer footfall. However, with the most up to date in-store technology, delivering a seamless customer experience in the January sales shouldn’t be a burden but a well practised procedure.

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