Holiday Planning

At a time of year when consumers are still caught up in end-of-summer barbecues and back-to-school shopping, retailers are getting caught up in the rush of holiday planning. Holiday sales can account for 20% to 40% of a retailer’s total annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation, and a successful holiday can turn around a bad year or make a good year even better.

But the holiday season presents challenges as well as opportunities. And that’s especially true in today’s omnichannel environment where retailers must ensure that online sites as well physical stores can handle the holiday rush. Never has the path to purchase been more complicated, with consumer interaction now involving social media, mobile devices, email and traditional media.

Retailers must ensure that areas, such as customer service, staffing, online personalization and marketing, are up to speed and are supported by technology robust enough to keep things running no matter how big holiday crowds get. In addition, leading-edge solutions like mobile, social and digital gift cards can open new channels and help retailers reach holiday shoppers through as many touchpoints as possible.

In this month’s tech section, CSA offers an in-depth look at how leading retailers are integrating IT into their holiday plans, and also provides expert advice on the best ways to use mobile and social platforms, as well as digital gift cards, to help make the holidays happy for everyone — wherever and however they may choose to shop.

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