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The Gift of Good Service

Retail stores get ready for the influx of foot traffic that the holiday season brings, focusing on the customer journey and concierge services.

The holidays—it’s the most wonderful time of the year for gift-wishing children and gift-stocking retailers alike. While many people go online to make holiday purchases, 53% of all shoppers still plan to visit a mass merchant to buy their gifts this year. So, what is it that keeps holiday shoppers coming to stores, and what do they most want out of the experience to keep the good cheer going? Here’s what top retailers are doing to keep shopping fun, checkout lanes efficient and gift-givers jolly all season long.


NORTH POLE GREETINGS (Store Décor & Merchandising)
A little seasonal dressing can do wonders to infuse the holiday spirit—an instant signifier to shoppers that stores have anticipated their needs and are checklist-ready. In-store seasonal thematics also set the stage for visual storytelling, serving up vignettes that delight and inspire shoppers with gift ideas. And some retailers are bringing the North Pole to people, like the “Home for the Holidays” destination Macy has created—a new 36-store pop-in model created with STORY to make the art of finding the perfect gift a more interactive and celebratory experience.

AN ARMY OF ELVES (Seasonal Associates)
With signs pointing us in the right direction, it’s no surprise that retail stores’ foot traffic increases significantly during the holiday season—in 2018, the 10 busiest shopping days of the year fell between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many retailers manage the holiday traffic boom by adding more associates in store. Target is staffing up big-time and planned to hire nearly 130,000 more team members for the 2019 season across over 1,800 stores with a focus on “bringing guests ease, convenience and inspiration as they shop.”

A special touch makes all the difference to people during the holiday season, and retail stores are tapping into the concept with their concierge services. Walmart associates don the role of “Holiday Helper,” scouring the store to find forgotten items and open checkout lines, providing product advice throughout departments, and even playing host for special events and parties in-store—including a nationwide visit from Santa in all Walmart stores on Dec. 7.

Many retail stores have taken on the faithful tradition of staying open late on Christmas Eve to accommodate any last-minute needs. It’s a smart adaptation to Christmas shoppers’ buying habits, as 7% of people wait until the day before Christmas to do their shopping. Kohl’s has been known as a leader in this arena, in 2018 staying open for 24 hours daily from Dec. 21 until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with in-store pickup offered until 3 p.m. And now that Kohl’s is an official “Amazon returns hotspot,” they’re bound to capture some post-holiday return traffic as well.

December 2, 2019