It seems as though the holiday season begins earlier every year. Retailers and other small businesses will need to prepare well in advance as the COVID-19 pandemic and the delta variant continue to wreak havoc.
Even with supply chain issues and shortages of a wide range of products, companies will still have to meet customer expectations, which become more challenging during the peak holiday season. It’s vital to ensure having packages delivered on time or stocking shelves to meet demand.
Many companies made a digital transformation over the past few years, even during the onset of the pandemic. Advanced technology is helping businesses improve operational efficiency and reach goals. If anything, COVID-19served to accelerate the adoption of business technologies.
This holiday season is expected to present new challenges for retailers, small businesses and logistics companies. Thankfully, the latest and greatest tech will help ease the pressure facing these industries. Here are seven technologies your company should consider adopting as the 2022 holiday season approaches.
1. Contactless Payments
It’s becoming increasingly common to see retailers, small and medium-sized businesses, and even public transportation companies offer contactless payment options for their customers.
When customers can pull out their smartphones and pay with FaceID, the entire transaction process is more efficient. Employees can prevent lines from growing longer and making customers feel impatient and frustrated.
Contactless payment technology consists of debit cards, credit cards, smartcards or digital wallets picked up by radio frequency identification (RFID) technology or near-field communication (NFC) technology. For example, Target uses contactless payment methods in its stores to great success. There are multiple contactless payment apps available for download for smaller businesses to help streamline the transaction process, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
2. Customer Relationship Management Software
More companies are adopting customer relationship management (CRM) software to streamline their operations, conduct marketing, provide customer service and design a potential sales process.
It’s much easier to adopt CRM software than to track customer information manually through Excel spreadsheets or other means.
Some popular examples of CRM software are Salesforce, Hubspot and FreshDesk, among others. There are options that suit all types of business needs, whatever the size of the company. It’s vital to first identify your needs so you can research which CRM software will offer the best value for your business.
3. Workforce Management Software
The holiday season will present challenges for e-commerce businesses, as online shopping is exploding and expected to grow even more within the next year. It will be more important than ever for both ecommerce and logistics companies to achieve streamlined workflows, operational efficiencies and personnel management. To do so, workforce management software is a must-have.
Workforce management in and of itself is managing personnel through optimizing workplace productivity. Software allows managers to adequately manage employees while still accomplishing other important business tasks.
One example of workforce management software that works well for both retailers and logistics managers is PenguinData’s Contractor and Employee Portal, where timesheets, scheduling, pay summaries and performance data are all stored. It lets you manage employees more effortlessly and effectively, improving productivity and performance across the workplace.
4. Inventory Management Software
Retailers and other small businesses that sell products will need to prepare early and ensure they’re using inventory management software solutions before the upcoming holiday season. This offers plenty of benefits to the average business. Here are some of the most significant plusses worth mentioning:
- Cost savings
- Higher productivity levels
- Improved accuracy
- Better customer experience (CX)
- Insights into products
Companies that purchase this software from a provider can expect to reap all the benefits it offers. Tracking and managing inventory is crucial during the holiday season — shelves need to be stocked so customers can make purchases and you can earn a profit.
5. AI Recruiting Software
More applications are emerging when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). Retailers, small businesses and large corporations are leveraging AI to achieve efficiency in their operations.
AI recruiting software can positively impact an HR department’s recruitment process. Small businesses need to hire enough staff to make up for the spike in labor shortages across the country.
Purchasing products from one of the many AI recruiting software companies will make the hiring process easier, and now is a good time to invest in this type of technology. Take Fetcher, for example. Fetcher is an AI recruiting automation platform that can simplify hiring employees for in-person or remote labor.
6. Chatbots for Customer Support
A major element in offering high-quality experiences for customers is 24/7, round-the-clock customer support services. Whether through a call center, instant chat, traditional cold calling or email, customer support plays an important role in a business’s overall profitability.
Chatbots can be used to grow your business by offering quality customer service, even when a human isn’t around to answer questions or solve problems. Keeping an open line of communication is vital for any company, and chatbots serve as a viable replacement for traditional call centers.
Companies like Sephora, Starbucks and Domino’s leveraged chatbots to improve their customer experience (CX), and it’s proven successful for all of them. Chatbots make the customer journey more effortless, which means people are more satisfied with your service and will be more likely to spend money on your products.
7. POS Loyalty Programs
The importance of a loyal customer base cannot be overstated — these shoppers tend to make repeat purchases and boost sales. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah are approaching, and it’s crucial to use this time as an opportunity to build upon your customer base using a POS loyalty program.
Research shows that 64% of retailers believe loyalty programs are the best way to connect with customers. Retailers can offer exclusive member discounts to drive sales during the holidays. Many companies provide POS loyalty programs, which allow them to increase the average customer’s spend, build their loyalty and encourage repeat visits to their stores.
Some of the top POS loyalty program systems include Square POS, Vend, Lightspeed Retail POS and Toast POS, among others. Aside from growing a loyal customer base, retailers can also use this piece of technology to review loyalty analytics, which can be leveraged to make crucial business decisions. Consider using an integrated loyalty program to reap the benefits of what these systems offer.
8. Delivery Experience Management
Any business needing to ship products over the holidays knows that finding an efficient way to manage deliveries and gather valuable customer feedback is crucial. Your business will likely have high volumes of holiday traffic, and knowing how to use the data from these shipments can turn one-time purchasers into loyal customers.
The pandemic has brought about changes to the retail environment that will likely last, even when the pandemic is behind us. This includes caring for customers even after a purchase is made to maintain relationships. A platform like LateShipment.com’s Delivery Experience Management will provide you with critical post-purchase analytics like shipment tracking and delivery feedback, which you can then use to make your brand even more oriented to your audience in the new year.
Adopt Technology to Improve Business Operations
Customers will have high expectations for the 2021 holiday season, as the pandemic often curbed last year’s celebrations. With more people getting vaccinated daily and coronavirus cases decreasing, the holidays coming up may feel more “normal” compared to 2020. As a result, businesses will need to deliver on these expectations to build a loyal customer base.
While some business leaders are hesitant to implement new technologies, the benefits often outweigh the risks. Be sure to research these technologies to understand how they can transform your company and help you earn a profit during this competitive holiday season.
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