By Daniel Binder

  1. GEAR UP FOR CONVENIENCE AND SEAMLESS TRANSACTIONS: While major technology developments are not feasible to address between now and Black Friday, aligning all of your service channels with consistency of messaging and offerings is something you should address now.  The push for convenience will permeate every aspect of the customer experience this holiday season. Customers are demanding delivery, and returns that are both free and seamless. Make sure your chat functions, store staff, call centers are all well-versed in shipping expectations (especially web site shipping cut -off dates), free thresholds and special promotions and services.

  2. BECOME PRICE COMPETITIVE: Due to heightened price sensitivity, it will be extremely important for retailers to leverage AI and other pricing tools this year. Pricing will need to anticipate competitor price matching, audience demographics, shopper preferences and targeted promotions while recognizing that there will be periods of constrained inventory due to supply chain issues. If you can’t address your entire selection/assortment, make sure you focus on the critical products that will make or break your season.

  3. EMBRACE UNIFIED COMMERCE: It should go without saying, but prioritizing your omni-channel functions is the new baseline for success. Customer identification across devices, POS look-up functions, BOPIS practices (buy online pick up in store) and universal/shared inventory all must be reviewed and in place to maximize your sales during the season.

  4. REMEMBER TO BE MOBILE FIRST:  More than just a digital/web strategy, retailers need a mobile first strategy. Customers are embracing mobile commerce more than ever before, requiring extra attention on marketing – the retailer’s website, product catalogues and customer support should all be mobile first and responsive to various devices.

  5. ADDRESS YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN LIMITATIONS: Given the current issues on global product deliveries, shipping container costs/delays and transportation limitations, retailers need to have a buy what we have mentality. High demand items will be in limited supply, so apply the basics of merchandising and make compelling presentations and digital stories around categories and products that are readily available. Revisit your holiday plan from earlier this year and pivot accordingly.  And, while gift cards are not sexy, make them more appealing with add on products and holiday ready packaging. This will help delay the need for specific products but still capture the share of wallet.

Holiday 2021 will be challenging for you and your competitors, but having a more nimble, agile approach will be of great benefit. And, remember, now is the time to start making up ground in 2022. Let Columbus Consulting help you identify your key opportunities for growth and help you address the challenges you encountered this year to be better positioned for the future.  We know retail, because we are retailers and our team of experienced leaders are hands-on project members that will work side-by-side with you and your peers to address all of your needs in global supply chain, merchandising, planning, information technology, organizational management, omni-channel and business logistics. We are boutique consultants with strategic consulting expertise that deliver practical solutions.

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