It’s stressful being a retailer at Christmas – you’ve got to do your own shopping while also dealing with your busiest time of year. And when everyone else goes on holiday, you’re gearing up for the Boxing Day sales. You’re always wearing two hats, as both a retailer and a shopper yourself. But while you’re waiting in a shopping queue, it’s a great chance to analyse your shopping experience and consider what lessons you can apply to your own business.

Making Christmas shopping as quick and convenient as possible means you – and your customers – can spend more time on the important things at Christmas. Instead of last-minute shopping, you can hang out with your friends and family, head to the beach or fire up the barbeque.

1. Make a list, check it twice

Planning ahead can save you serious time and money. Work out your budget, your list of who’s who and what you’re going to buy them – you’ll never end up revisiting the same store twice or paying two shipping fees online. For your own business, do you offer customers some type of list or request service? Maybe an online ‘favourites’ section on your online store, or a pre-order and pick-up option? Before the Christmas rush did you take advantage of the Black Friday specials? What hot deals did you offer your customers for Black Friday? Did your offers boost sales, attract new customers or help total profits? Take a close look at what worked and what didn’t so you can make improvements for Black Friday 2019.

2. Deliver, pick up or in-store?

Online shopping still isn’t the most common way to buy, but it’s a rapidly-growing part of the market. At Christmas, the biggest concern is making sure your parcels arrive on time. We know that free delivery is a big selling point for online shoppers, so if your business can offer free delivery, expect to see more online sales. There’s also the option of free delivery over a certain dollar spend value.

Another great way to save time when you shop online is by using an in-store pick-up. This means you don’t need to pay shipping fees and you can walk straight into the store and get exactly the products you want, ready to go. Think about whether this option could work for your business. For shoppers in out-of-the-way locations, delivery to a local postshop can also be an option.

International research shows 27% of US customers bought a product online and picked it up in-store during 2017, while same-day delivery is increasingly in demand with consumers – we may see this offered in New Zealand soon. (The same research found that 15% of shoppers purchased products through Amazon that cost more than competitors, just because Amazon offers faster shipping.) Look at ways to make it simpler and quicker for your customers to get their goods – the money you spend on shipping may be rapidly recouped in additional sales. Do the numbers and see if it could work for you.

3. Look for ways to save on credit card fees

Some retailers charge additional fees for paying by credit card – this can be pretty off-putting when it comes to checking out your online cart. Payment problems or extra fees can lead to cart abandonment – PayPal research has found 42% of online shoppers say types of payment options influence where they shop online. When you’re shopping online, look for retailers that don’t charge a premium, or offer a fee-free way to pay.

One way to pay is with Paymark OnlineEftpos, which allows shoppers to pay for online shopping via their mobile phone number and using their banking app. The money comes directly out of the shopper’s account, it’s instantly processed online, and they don’t even need to get their wallets out. We’ve seen an impressive uptake by consumers, with 20% month-on-month transaction growth since the launch of OnlineEftpos – people who use it, love it.

From a retailer’s perspective, OnlineEftpos is a great deal, with lower fees than traditional credit card payments.

4. Go contactless to save time at checkout

You know yourself how much quicker it is to use tap and go at checkout. Customers really appreciate this feature – it reduces waiting time, so you can get through your Christmas shopping faster. Three-quarters of New Zealanders, and nine out of ten Millennials, are using contactless credit card payments.

If you don’t have contactless payments available on your terminals, you may need to think about ways to move customers quickly through the payment process during the pre-Christmas rush.

5. Be well-organised

Avoid the rush by shopping at the quietest times of day. We know the hottest times during the week: between 10 and 2 at the weekends. If you can shop earlier or later, you’ll have a smoother path through the foot traffic. The quietest shopping time all week is, unsurprisingly, on a Monday between 3 and 4 in the morning.

If you can find a shop that’s open we can safety predict there won’t be much of a queue at the till. If you can’t avoid the peak times, look for stores where queues are moving freely – plenty of staff and terminals, plus contactless payment options. Even your local dairy will probably be selling more stamps and more ice creams.

When it comes to your own business, will customers be able to move quickly through your stores at the busiest times of day? Think about staff levels and the number of terminals available. Customers who step into your store and face a long line at the till are liable to turn around and walk straight out again, so keep those buyers flowing. 

Open Invite4

More insights on New Zealand shoppers – at Christmas and beyond

Whether you’re planning your own Christmas shopping for next year or gearing up for a record-breaking festive season for your business, we have the tools and information to help you make excellent decisions. Get in touch with us today to find out more about what we have to offer.