Dealing with cleaner floors and less foot traffic for the holidays
December 19, 2014

The holiday season hasn't been off to the greatest start for retailers, but they've also been facing an uphill battle from before the holidays even began. The key issue is foot traffic, or the number of people coming to actually visit the store. Even at times as busy as the final weeks of the year, many stores can't help but see their places looking a little emptier. As Euclid Analytics noted in its monthly report, Black Friday traffic declined 6.6 percent in a backdrop of a 19.9 percent decrease for the entire month of November in comparison to the previous year.

The reason for this is quite simple: As more shoppers make the most of their computers and smartphones, there have been major increases in online and mobile shopping. The increased comfort in using ecommerce in turn has cannibalized store visits as whole, while not necessarily impacting overall sales.

Sales at brick-and-mortar stores have been stable, however. The lack of store visits doesn't mean that people are not buying anything. In fact, according to the same analysis, storefront conversion has gone up nearly 2 percent from 2013, while the bounce rate - which determines people leaving without purchasing anything - has declined 0.4 percent.

Making a better store
With these differing circumstances, stores are wondering what to make of the situation. PYMNTS suggests that the answer lies in customer service. With few people running around on the showroom floor, there's less of a need to handle a crush of people. Traffic becomes more manageable, and store clerks are better able to handle the crowd. They can then focus on catering to customers' needs at any given moment, rather than pushing them in and out the door as fast as possible.

This type of thinking should expand well into the checkout process. The goal with having customers pay during the holiday season is to move them through the process as quickly and painlessly as possible. In busier times, that meant jamming the registers and moving people through as fast as possible. However, with the rise of integrated payment systems and mobile point of sale terminals, the possibility of a frictionless transaction can make a major difference for customers. By simply having clerks simply come up to the consumer and complete the transaction with a quick scan and swipe. That saves a lot of time, and makes the shopping experience more memorable to the customer at large.

Nexus: G-WEBCD3