Wave #1 - the High Margin Wave - has begun in earnest, and will continue through Christmas Eve.
Faced with the shipping delays (and surcharges), customers have turned to brick-and-mortar stores. The savvy retailers are ready for them.
- Customers will want plenty of reassurance of your health safety procedures. There's a virus out there, remember?
- Some stores may offer shopping-by-appointment, much like scheduling a dinner reservation (remember those?) This allows essentially private shopping for some customers.
- Curbside or in-store pickup will appeal to many, and is important to offer. But it does reduce the opportunity for add-on purchases. Where you place your in-store pickup can make a big difference.
Wave #2 - the "I got it on sale!" Wave - starts Saturday, December 26.
All that merchandise you tucked away during the first wave? Now it is back, with extra sharp markdowns.
- Those customers who love the after-Christmas sales, plus gift card recipients in search of bargains, will be very active on that weekend.
- Be ready for them. What they really are after is bragging rights of what a great deal they got!
- And remember, the first markdown is the cheapest. Your goal is to raise as much cash as you can.
Wave #3 - the "Many happy returns?!" Wave - is the undertow that could become a tsunami.
Brace yourself. The rate of returns of merchandise purchased online is about 4 times higher than a retailer's typical return rate.
Come January, customers seeking to return or exchange merchandise they received (or self-gifted) at Christmas could feel like a stampede. And difficult for your staff to keep smiles on their faces. (Another good reason to wear a mask!)
- Now is the time to think through your policies for returns and exchanges, and make them very clear from the outset. Avoid surprises.
- The Coronavirus compounds this issue, given the matter of safely handling merchandise that comes back.
- But it will be a great opportunity to interact with your current customers and potentially many new ones. Seize the chance to impress them.