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Making the most of Christmas

By Retail Technology | Friday November 24 2023 | UPDATED 24.11.23

Faki Saadi, director of sales, France, UK and Ireland at SOTI, explains how UK retailers can better prepare themselves for the festive season

The festive season is on the horizon and retailers are beginning their preparations, ensuring they have everything they need to support the rush and keep customers and employees happy. Various British supermarket chains, for example, have recently announced Christmas recruitment drives to cope with a surge of in-store customers and online orders. 

Last year, 51% of UK shoppers made impulse purchases during Black Friday promotions, and 81% of Brits started their Christmas shopping by December 12th, making these busy weeks for the nation’s shops. Preparing for the festive shopping season does not only mean hiring more staff, it should also include ensuring the right technology is in place to handle the rush. Devices across business operation, whether in-store or in warehouses, should be equipped to handle the upcoming retail season.

Here are top three tech considerations shops and online retailers should be addressing now, in time for the hectic shopping season.

Personalised Delivery Options

SOTI research discovered consumers want personalised delivery options. While front door delivery is still preferred by 84% of UK consumers, other delivery options are growing in popularity. Consumers have high expectations for retailers, including faster delivery times and multiple delivery options, as 62% of UK consumers continue to shop with brands that deliver goods the fastest.

Moreover, 53% of UK consumers would like autonomous vehicles to deliver larger packages to their home or another convenient location and 32% prefer direct delivery to their car wherever it is parked. To get ahead during the festive shopping season, retailers should be thinking about how to provide the personalised delivery options that consumers are asking for.

Don’t Overlook the Finer Details –Battery Health Matters

Without functional or healthy batteries, the handheld scanners customers use to scan items won’t work, the mobile printers needed for shelf-edge pricing labels won’t print and rugged devices in warehouses will be unable to track inventory being loaded onto delivery vans.

Mid-shift mobile device battery failure impacts nearly 80% of enterprises – including retailers. Imagine a packed store on the UK’s busiest shopping day and a point of sale (POS) tablet battery dies and the tablet is unable to check customers out – this can be incredibly damaging to a business’s bottom line.

In the past, most retailers would say they did not have a battery problem until it was brought to their attention. By that point, it is too late. Waiting for a battery to fail is not a sound strategy and replacing all batteries blindly – “just in case” – is wasteful and not financially sustainable in the long run.

When it comes to managing a fleet of mobile devices, having intelligence data, gathered from a robust Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)solution, will be key to run operations successfully during the shopping season. Retailers must know in advance whether the batteries powering their essential mobile devices are up to the task, if they will need replacing or if there are apps causing unnecessary battery drainage.

Proactively monitoring the battery health of devices will ultimately create a more positive shopping experience because when those batteries go down, so does customer satisfaction, employee morale and the businesses bottom-line.

Manage Those Printers

 During the hectic shopping period, mobile and industrial printers in shops and warehouses will also be busier than ever. Shelf-edge printers are producing labels, mobile printers in van deliveries are printing receipts, while thermal printers on packaging lines are printing labels to be placed on delivery boxes. If those printers face any amount of downtime it means business operations could grind to a halt.

With mobile and industrial printers, there is more for retailers to manage than simply running out of labels. Here are some other printer issues that impact retail operations during the festive season:

  • Print Speed: If printers are printing too fast or too slow, it can result in unreadable and unusable labels which slows things down as new labels must be re-printed, resulting in lost time and money.
  • Device Temperature: Printers may be deployed in hot warehouses or cold storage facilities. If they become too hot or too cold, printing operations might slow down or stop altogether. If the printer reaches an extreme temperature, the device can be permanently damaged.
  • Memory Levels: If you are a retailer, chances are you have specific fonts, graphics and logos to enhance your brand. When printer memory is low, the printer may not be able to support these custom designs. That means printing labels with the wrong look/logo or not printing them at all until the issue is resolved – none of which is acceptable during the festive rush.

On top of this, there is the issue of printer security. Printers are often overlooked when it comes to protection against cyber threats. The hustle and bustle of the festive shopping season is a perfect opportunity for thieves and hackers to target unsecured printers and cause disruptions by flooding servers or launching DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. In fact, during the Christmas period, there is a 30% greater chance of a cyber-attack compared to the rest of the year.

Thinking about these issues before the busy shopping season, will prepare retailers for the increase in demand, otherwise they will be forced to deal with them in the middle of it.

According to research, nearly two thirds (67%) of consumers believe retailers who use mobile technology provide a faster shopping experience. This is why it is important to incorporate it into seasonal planning initiatives. Failing to address any of the above could result in lost revenue and the loss of a returning customer, which is the last thing any business wants.

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