Forrester forecasts that total US holiday retail sales will reach $969 billion during the 2023 season — that’s up 4.3% year over year. As retailers enter the busiest period in retail, they must equip store associates with the knowledge and digital tools to win over holiday shoppers. Store associate tools (SATs) can simplify your associates’ workflow and enhance their customer interactions when they’re executing tasks, thereby improving both employee productivity and your customers’ experiences.

How can SATs help you this holiday season?

  • More consumers are planning to shop in-store than last year. According to Forrester’s October 2023 Consumer Pulse Survey, 30% of US online adults plan to do more in-person shopping this year (compared to 22% in 2022). In addition to traditional in-store shopping, consumers tell us that they are now regularly using “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS) options. And 44% of US online adults said the option to buy online and pick up in-store significantly influences their decision to purchase a product online from a specific brand or retailer.

How SATs help: Store fulfillment tools help omnichannel retailers improve operational efficiency. These tools enable associates to assign and accept orders, pick and stage orders, and deliver or ship orders to customers. Integration with adjacent solutions such as workforce management can help managers optimize labor and bring associate workloads in sync with capacity.

  • Most shoppers will seek out brands that provide exceptional service. Fully 62% of US online adults said they seek out brands that provide exceptional service. While there are multiple factors and interactions that lead to great service in-store, US online adults tell us that they’d find it valuable to attend prescheduled appointments for personal styling and consultations (42%), to work with a store associate using a handheld device to get access to additional information not found in-store (44%), and to place an order with a store associate for an out-of-stock item for home delivery or pickup at a later date (61%).

How SATs help: Mobile devices loaded with capabilities such as virtual selling and appointments enable in-store associates to consult and engage with digital shoppers. Usability and reliability should remain top of mind. Successful adoption of these tools, especially among seasonal employes, will hinge on an intuitive user interface that requires little to no training.

  • Retail workers feel overworked. Half of respondents from Forrester’s Workforce Survey, 2023, who are employed full-time or part-time in retail feel like they are working harder now than they did before the pandemic. Additionally, 40% said their mental health has suffered because of the pandemic and related challenges.

How SATs help: Retailers should supplement new technology with proper training and processes to improve associate experiences and customer experiences. Platforms that seek to address associate needs more holistically often incorporate digital learning (e.g., micro-learning and quizzes), performance analytics, and task management to match associates with tasks they’re prepared to handle.

Want to know more? Forrester clients can book time with me (in an inquiry or guidance session) so I can help answer your questions about this evolving landscape. You can also engage with me on LinkedIn.