As it appeared in the Daily Nation on December 11th 2018
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
We are fast approaching that time of the year when the bulk of shopping happens. Year in year out, the Christmas season and the start of a new year results to a surge in sales volumes. It is around the same time that many travel across the country to visit and gift family and friends as well as go on vacation. For the majority of Kenyans, January is also the start of a new school year and with it comes the shopping for school supplies. At the same time, some Kenyans will have some extra cash. Some will have received an extra salary and others will have earned a bonus for a job well done. How has your business prepared for this period? Whether you are a retailer, a holiday destination, a transport services provider or any other business that considers December a critical month, it is time to take action. It is not enough to put up Christmas decorations!
Most of the festive season and back to school shopping happens in the retail space. For retailers adequate stocks is therefore crucial. Common sense and previous years’ experiences give a good indication of the items customers often shop for before and after Christmas and at the beginning of the new school year. Have you made it clear to your suppliers what you need and when you need it? Have you placed your overseas orders well in advance? Shoppers hate to keep moving from one store to another looking for items that are out of stock. In addition, retailers must plan to have adequate staff both on the shop floor and at the checkouts. Most customers will be visiting specific stores for the very first time. Such customers are not familiar with item location and they need assistance. The customers will also be in a hurry to shop, many will be running late to family gatherings. It is no wonder that during the festive season we find abandoned trollies full of shopping on the aisles or near the checkouts. Some customers just give up shopping if they do not find all that they need or if checkout queues are too long and slow.
For hotels and restaurants, please plan to make your customers’ experience memorable. Remember that you may not have another opportunity to make a second impression, go all out and make your guests feel special this festive season. Other businesses expecting to handle first time customers are banks. As parents pay school fees at your bank for the first time, it is an opportunity for them to experience your bank at its best. Long queues, slow service because of inefficient teller services are unacceptable. Prepare well in advance and make the school fees payment process seamless. The parent could be shopping for a bank.
Let the coming festive season not just be about displaying Christmas-like decorations. Consider the season as an excellent opportunity to drive more sales, attract new customers, make customers happy, and retain existing customers. Rethink your overall festive season customer experience and get your team up to speed. Do not be left behind!
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy