IHL Webinar Recap: How to Ensure Retail Success During the Holiday Season
It’s difficult to overstate the impact that COVID-19 has had on the retail industry.
With certain retail verticals hit harder by lockdowns and lower sales than others, unemployment has spread unevenly across the industry. Retailers today have had to deal with workforce issues such as increased absenteeism, low employee morale, and frontline staff becoming sick. And with customers embracing new modes of shopping, such as curbside pickup, retailers must adapt in order to give customers the safe and convenient retail experience they desire.
IHL Group and Reflexis Systems recently held a webinar, “Leveraging Pandemic Lessons to Ensure Holiday Success,” that took a deep dive into how COVID-19 has impacted the retail industry so far. It also explored how the pandemic will certainly make an impact on the upcoming holiday season, and what technology and tools retailers can deploy to manage disruption during the holidays to ensure success.
Here are three takeaways from the webinar that you can use to prepare for the holiday season:
1. Empower Your Frontline Associates
Even before the pandemic, frontline associates were faced with an increasing burden during their shifts. From new initiatives to changing customer expectations, they had to get more work done in order to effectively provide a great in-store experience. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Associates now have to learn new safety procedures, deal with occupancy limits and other changing store policies, while fulfilling more online orders than ever before.
Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group, discussed how retailers today are handling this issue, saying that “41% of retailers in our survey said that empowering associates with better tools is a top priority for them as they go into 2021.” Jennifer Myers, Solutions Consultant at Reflexis, went on to talk about how real-time store operations solutions are essential tools for handling a potentially disruptive holiday season. These solutions include real-time communication and task management, which simplify how frontline associates complete daily activities, as well as intelligent labor forecasting and scheduling, which minimize the risk of inaccurate labor schedules that overburden associates.
All of these solutions empower frontline associates, making it easier for them to complete their daily tasks, fulfill online orders, and implement new safety-related policies in stores, while focusing on the customer experience.
2. Optimize New Methods of Customer Shopping
COVID-19 has brought dramatic increases in BOPIS, ship from warehouse, ship from store, and curbside pickup. This presents a unique challenge to retailers that now have to shift towards these methods of customer shopping in order to increase sales during the holiday season. Greg Buzek spoke to this during the webinar: “We’ve got store fulfillment of digital orders that saw incredible growth during the pandemic. The problem with that is less than 15% of retailers had optimized things with their people and systems prior to COVID-19.”
Real-time task management systems were suggested as a way to boost task compliance around these new processes. Frontline associates receive on their mobile devices, in real time, notifications and prioritized tasks when BOPIS or curbside pickup orders need to be fulfilled. Once these tasks have been executed, store managers can see in real time when associates check their tasks off as complete and can verify or follow up to ensure customers are receiving an excellent retail experience.
3. Increase Agility Across Your Organization
Agility is critical during any disruptive period. With safety information being updated day-by-day, and with policies continually shifting as a result of the fluctuating nature of the pandemic, retailers need to be able to respond in real time to quickly changing circumstances.
Jennifer Myers spoke to how real-time store operations solutions, such as real-time communication and intelligent labor scheduling, were able to help Reflexis customer Big Lots stay agile during the pandemic: “They were able to use these solutions to maintain open lines of communication, push new store policies and procedures, implementing new SOPs, 24-point cleaning checklists, and health screenings for associates before they clock in.”
These solutions are critical for any retailer looking to capitalize on the upcoming holiday season. With uncertainty around how COVID-19 will impact the holiday season, real-time store operations solutions give retailers the agility they need to implement new policies, communicate effectively, and ensure that holiday shoppers are safe in stores.
For more insight into how you can streamline store operations and ensure success this holiday season, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.