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There is a lot to love about December: cozy evening in whilst it snows outside, warm mulled wine and gingerbread, and everybody feeling joyful in preparation of the festive period. Yet it is also the busiest time for many in-store merchants, such as restaurants and retailers, as people rush to Black Friday sales, want to buy the perfect gift, celebrate corporate Christmas parties, and gather with friends before the winter holiday.

What data tells us about shopping behavior over the Winter Holiday?

Consumers in the UK alone spend over £800 above their normal budget only in December as a result of Black Fridays and Christmas (reported the Bank of England). This year, a record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. This is an increase of 14 percent from last year as it was reported by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics in a press release earlier this year.

 

Source: NRF – Holiday and Seasonal Trends: https://nrf.com/insights/retail-holiday-and-seasonal-trends

 

During the Winter holidays, in-store sales vs. online sales fluctuate. The “Holiday Shopping Report” by Criteo shows that in-store purchases sit at 60% of total sales in both, U.S. and EMEA before Black Friday. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday in contrast, the in-store sales drop and online sales gain 30% of the total sale share. The trends reverse back in the week before Christmas, where it shows that 73% of U.S. purchases and 87% of the EMEA purchases are made in-store.

How do in-store merchants respond to the busy festive retail period?

To accommodate the influx of people that the holidays bring, many small to medium-sized merchants (SMBs) change their service and employ more staff. This means SMBs dedicate more time that usual to hire, train, and manage large workforce to make sure that sales increase, and that the consumer experience remains top-notch. It’s a time in the year that consumers venture outside their comfort zone and explore new cuisine, shops and places. So for business owners, it’s more than just keeping up during the busy period, but also the opportunity to win over new regular customers.

Many merchants already rely on management programs to run their business. Especially in this busy period, digital tools can be a major differentiator in helping merchants managing their business, as it offers intuitive functionalities. Yet, more often than not, these digital tools work on different devices, which do not interact well with one another, and crowd the till areas which can become counterproductive for a merchant. Needless to say, we wouldn’t want merchants to be grouchy and ruin the Christmas spirit.

 

Merchants will be using apps on payment devices to cope with the busy season

A great way to streamline businesses is by having value-added apps on the payment device. Android-based systems make running value-added apps on payment device possible. Here are a few apps that might come in handy:

  • POS app on a mobile device: Allows customers to pay anywhere in the store by offering mobile payments. It avoids losing customers as it cuts down on queues time (i.e. queue busting) by having them pay on the spot.
  • Employee management app: Optimizes workforce management by having them clock in and out directly on the payment device. It gives the ability to create rotas quickly while respecting individual needs and it simplifies payroll process.
  • Loyalty app: Keeps new and existing customers coming back as it offers a customizable loyalty solution, rewards and/or discounts to satisfy loyal customer.
  • Table and appointment booking app: Allows online bookings to simplify management of both, customers and appointments, from a smart point of sale device.

Apps are a great way of improving customer experience by ensuring consumers are getting the attention they need, but without being intrusive. Besides, they also support internal workforce management and can reduce the time spent in the back office.

In summary we all look forward to the festive period, listening to Fairytales of New York, whilst sharing a meal with friends and toasting to the year ahead, yet the shopping experience can be overwhelming, crowded and could do with a few things going smoother. Merchants are increasingly eager to adopt technology, to push sales year-on-year and to make this experience more enjoyable. One can only expect this should expand in 2020!

Yule be a fool to miss out!

 

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