With the retail sector struggling of late, the run-up to Christmas is traditionally the time when shops see their premises busy and their profits soar. Yet with so much competition and the effects of the credit crisis continuing to spread, it’s becoming harder and harder to tempt customers in.
Last year saw disappointing retail sales over the festive season and the Olympics failed to set the tills alight too, so it really is make-or-break time for many shops, especially smaller and independent retailers.
The Threat from Online Shopping
In the past all pre-Christmas shopping was done on the high street fairly close to Christmas but this is no longer the case, with more and more online shops emerging and flourishing.
The internet has transformed shopping and consumers are now able to find the best price at the click of a button, or to avail of special offers sent through email or via social-networking sites.
With most consumers hoping to spread the cost this year, the Christmas rush is beginning now, both at the shops and online. Everyone is keen to grab a bargain where they can, taking advantage of early sales and special promotions.
When shopping online, a credit card is the best way to pay, especially if yours is linked to a cashback scheme or on a 0% interest offer. You can compare the best deals on both purchase and rewards credit cards at a comparison site like MoneySupermarket. What’s particularly beneficial is that if you purchase online with your credit card, it’s not only convenient, but your card will offer you some level of protection should anything go wrong with your transaction.
Bigger retailers with both an online and high-street presence can use their flexibility to ensure people spend their money both ways. By offering a different angle for each option, larger retailers have the expertise to make sure both ways of shopping can be profitable for them.
High-street retailers are often seen as being under threat from online shops, but this is not always the case. While they do need to stay at the top of their game and there is certainly strong competition, the physical shops have the advantage of a seasonal atmosphere, which always draws in the crowds.
The Path to Success
In order for online and high-street companies to succeed this festive season they need to be organised and prepared, able to predict hot products and allocate stock accordingly. In addition, they will need to ensure that they can fulfil all orders, especially if there is unprecedented demand. They also need to be able to accept different types of payments, including cash and credit cards.
It is vitally important that retailers know their competition and plan accordingly, especially when it comes to realistic pricing. Both online and high-street retailers can help stir up festive excitement by running themed promotions and competitions and by offering special shopping events.
Good customer service is vital as competition is fierce and nobody can afford to become complacent. Customers appreciate those extra touches such as speedy or next-day delivery, low delivery charges and named slots to avoid having to wait in all day.