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By Mike Grimes, CRO at Mobee

Holiday shopping season is here again, but many major retailers are taking Thanksgiving off.

Nordstrom, Costco and Office Depot — among others — will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, with other retailers opening fewer stores with shorter hours. While closing on Thanksgiving certainly helps avoid negative publicity, it puts immense pressure on brick-and-mortar stores to perform on Black Friday. Those stores that do open will face issues of their own, such as keeping shelves stocked and store associates focused on shoppers. 

Having worked with major brands and retailers to monitor shelf health, merchandising and store operations, we’ve learned a thing or two about ways to win in-store. Here are two ways brick-and-mortar retail can achieve its weekend sales goals, with or without a Thanksgiving shopping day.

Mind Your Merchandising

According to a recent New York Times article, “retailers also want to use one of the busiest times of years to hook new customers with special promotions and merchandise. But making a bad impression — tired staff, poorly stocked shelves — can have the opposite effect.”

We’ve found that the relationship between “making a bad impression” and decreased sales exists across categories: from consumer electronics to personal care products, retailers without inventory on the shelves, the proper pricing or correct signage, sell less. One of our national retail clients, for example, consistently sees a linear relationship between its stock and sales of ink cartridges.

While merchandising is a simple concept, it is surprisingly difficult to execute. Poor shelf health, like out-of-stocks and pricing errors, are most often a result of not enough labor, not enough awareness — or both. By coordinating closely with their brand partners, and considering technologies like crowdsourcing to increase the efficiency and performance of merchandising initiatives, brick-and-mortar retailers can satisfy shoppers on Black Friday weekend and beyond.  

Concentrate on Customer Experience

Customer experience can be a huge advantage for brick-and-mortar stores over e-commerce retailers. Though the National Retail Federation forecasts online sales during Thanksgiving weekend to increase between 7 and 10 percent over 2015 to as much as $117 billion, consumers still want to see, touch and interact with products on the shelf. Ninety percent of all U.S. retail sales, in fact, still occur in-store.

The customer experience advantage is even greater for multichannel retailers with both a brick-and-mortar and online presence. I recently purchased a tool chest from Home Depot. While the product was also available on Amazon, Home Depot had a wider selection of brands with spot-on reviews from people who knew a thing or two about tool chests. I opted to buy online, pickup in-store, selected a time slot and was met at the service desk by an employee willing to bring the tool chest to my car.

I’m a huge Amazon fan, but this wonderful experience made me change my mind about Home Depot. It’s an experience online-only retailers simply cannot replicate. Brick-and-mortar retailers, especially those with specialty products and domain expertise, should seek to leverage their physical spaces as the foundation of a superior multichannel customer experience.

Whether a clean aisle in a grocery store, an intelligent sales person in a consumer electronics department or a compliant endcap display, retail store operations matter. Merchandising and customer experience will help brick-and-mortar retailers win Black Friday weekend — with or without hours on Thanksgiving Day.

Mike Grimes is chief revenue officer (CRO) at Mobee, an offline data and insights platform that uses crowdsourcing to collect, organize and analyze consumer data at scale. With more than 25 years of experience building digital solutions for retail-centric organizations, Grimes leads Mobee’s go-to-market strategy, sales and business development efforts.

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