How to Deliver a Great CX During the Retail Peak Season

Barbara Kosko December 5, 2023

The festive period is here, and with it comes the year’s busiest time in the retail calendar. Availability of stock, staff and time poses multiple challenges to store management and store associates this time of the year.

At the same time customers are more impatient than ever. A recent survey showed that 69 percent had switched brands after just ONE bad experience, while a recent webinar unveiled that 85 percent walk out of stores if they have to wait in a line.

Multiply those numbers with the holiday rush, and you’re looking at the majority of your customers walking away from your stores. No retailer can afford to lose that much of their customer base.

Let’s look at how technology can improve the holiday shopping experience from the consumer’s point of view.

Holiday Shopping Experience 2.0

Bob is a dad with two kids—a daughter who’s 13 and a son who’s 7. Bob is feeling the holiday spirit all around, which makes him slightly nervous. He has gift shopping to do, and last year it didn’t go so well. Not only was his teenage daughter not happy with his present, but he spent countless hours queuing up in busy stores—he missed his son’s big meetup with Santa.

This year he has decided to be better prepared.

1. Get Gift Advice Online

Bob has his eyes set on a new smart TV, but he wants to see which model has better sound and image quality and gaming features. So, he wants to speak to someone at the store.

After all, it’s a big purchase that needs time and consideration, especially these days when the rising inflation rates make Bob more budget conscious than last year. He wants to make sure he makes an informed decision on how he spends his hard-earned dollars.

In the run up to the holidays, he just cannot stand the thought of having to go to yet another buzzing store to try to catch a shop assistant for recommendations. Luckily, on the store’s website, he sees a new gift advice service.

He can either join a virtual queue where he gets real-time notifications on his wait time and queue position, or he can book an online appointment for later. He chooses the latter, quickly selecting his preferred time to talk to the shop associate after work.

At the end he picks the store associate’s brain not only on the coveted TV but also on a few other smaller devices that can be good gifts for family members.

2. Pick Up Orders Fast

Now that Bob has decided who gets which present, he is ready to complete the purchases. Although home delivery sounds great, he’d like to keep the delivery costs to zero. So, he opts for in-store pickup.

A few days later, Bob is on his way to collect his purchases. He remembers last year’s struggle to talk his way out of having to queue up behind fully packed carts at the cashier, looking for the nicest way of saying “I’m just here for order collection’. To his surprise, there’s no queue.

Upon arriving at the store, Bob can quickly check in on his phone and pick up his order at a separate desk dedicated to BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up In-Store) Check-in. The moment he checks in, the store staff is automatically notified, so by the time he walks over the BOPIS desk, his order is ready.

Bob is baffled and delighted by the speedy service—he can’t wait to share his good experience with his colleagues.

3. Use Gift Wrapping Services with Virtual Queues

With the gifts at hand and his holiday spirit intact thanks to the speedy, waiting-free services, Bob decides to stop by a department store to get the presents nicely wrapped.

Scanning the QR code at the storefront kiosk, he can quickly join the virtual queue for gift wrapping. There are five people ahead of him with an estimated 30-minute wait. Now that stores have eliminated physical queues, the mall corridors look airy, inspiring Bob to go window shopping while he waits.

When his time is near, he gets an SMS notification to his phone, informing him to return to the gift-wrapping desk. Once there, Bob can see that the staff operates efficiently, without impatient customers breathing down their neck.

4. Join a Holiday Workshop

Happy with his successful gift hunt, Bob is almost done with his holiday preparations. On his way out of the mall, he notices an advertisement for a gingerbread house making workshop organized by the local culinary store.

Last year, after all the hassle of the festive season, they didn’t even bake gingerbread cookies—much less build a gingerbread house. But now it seems like a good opportunity for a fun family experience.

Using the QR code on the ad, he opens the store’s event management page. The system lists all the available workshop dates and times, together with the event duration. So, Bob finds one that suits his family’s schedule. After registration, he receives a confirmation email with the tickets, a map to the venue, and options to re-schedule or cancel if needed.

The store’s omnichannel customer experience works. Before leaving, Bob buys matching cooking aprons for the four of them.

5. Book an appointment to Santa’s Grotto

This year Bob is determined to see the joy on his son’s face as he meets Santa. Although he knows it’s a big crowd pleaser and heard from friends that the wait could easily take up to two hours, Bob decides to give it a go.

The elf at the entrance informs him that the mall has upgraded their ‘Santa in a Grotto’ experience by adding queue management and appointment booking solutions to reduce wait times. Parents and kids can now book an appointment or join a virtual queue.

Bob simply adds his son’s name to the online waitlist at the kiosk. Once in the queue, he receives an SMS update confirming his place and estimated wait times. Until their time is due, Bob decides to treat his son to hot chocolate in the café next door. Fifteen minutes later, he receives another notification: it’s time to visit Santa.

Prepare Your Retail Business for the Holiday Season

Every customer deserves a stress-free, wait-free festive season.

With the right preparations, retailers can put the fun back into holiday shopping, drive sales, and build enduring customer relationships.

Learn more about how Verint Retail Choreography solutions can help optimize your store operations.