The next 100 days will be the toughest ever for retailers. How can brands stand up to the test? Peter Scott our head of retail consultancy takes a look

The next 100 days are always the ones any retailer looks forward to. Christmas trading has a unique buzz about it. But given the restrictions we face and some stark home truths about a bleak winter, it’s easy to think this year will be a wash out. However, I think retailers have everything to play for. They just need to view this year as different not a defeat. Three areas need focus – team, in store and digital.


It’s been said a million times before, engage your team and they will engage your customers. Now like never before this should be your number one focus over the next 100 days of trading. If you are banking on a Christmas windfall then you must start here.

Store teams are on the frontline in these unprecedented times. They are frightened, overawed and confused. They may feel exposed. And the same is true of customers. So how do you ensure that store teams feel supported, engaged and motivated so that they can deliver an extraordinary experience in these extraordinary times? Four things that must be in place. If it’s not your forte get someone in who can help you. It’s a very worthwhile investment.

  • Communication – regular, clear and accurate. Get into a rhythm of sharing updates and helping people feel confident and supported, with opportunities to ask questions and get honest answers.
  • Establish easy to use help lines. I’ve seen the power of this. Ones that are manned every hour the stores are open provides a sense of ‘we are all in this together, there for one another’.
  • Lead from the front. If you can change work from home to work from store some of the time then do. You’ll need to look at the practicalities, but if your teams are prepared to do it, then so must the management team.
  • Motivate, excite, engage. Just because this year is different it doesn’t need to be full of dread. Be creative, make retail fun – there are so many brilliant people out there who can help you achieve this. Get it right and it will be infectious, customers will value it.

Understandably there are wide ranging ‘rules’ that have been introduced across all of retail. Some imposed, like masks and 2 metre distancing, some unique to brands, from whether you can or can’t try on/touch something, and whether it would be quarantined afterwards, to the number of people in a store etc etc.

It can be confusing for customers and turn them away. So help customers to feel comfortable:

  • Keep it simple. Strip back and have as few rules as possible so that customers understand what they have to do.
  • Make space. Are there non-essential products and fixtures that could be removed, would signage to say they are available on request be a better alternative so your high margin, high turnover items are always available?
  • Windows. They are more important than ever in bringing alive what customers will find in store and a brilliant way to inject some theatre into your brand and stand out.
  • Innovative services. Where are your pinch points and where do they overlap with the customer’s concerns? For example, can customers book an appointment with a store member in advance of visiting so they get what they need quickly? What other services can you offer – gift wrap and delivery from store after your purchase. Secret Santa or office parties ‘at home’ kits could be a winner now.

Gifting is what the next 100 days are all about so do everything you can to be front of mind:

  • Transforming your entire digital experience may not be possible right now but there are smaller changes you can make that will have a big impact – is the menu and layout easy to navigate? Is it fast to load pages, do images have ‘wow’ impact, how many clicks do I have to make to get from home to checkout via a purchase? Get these right as soon as possible.
  • Is the site optimised for mobile? Such a win-win that I still can’t believe how few retailers have it in place.
  • Are you always ‘on’? Web, social media, chat… we have to approach digital as we do stores. When customers come ‘in’ they should be engaged and inspired from the first click. This is going to be a huge area of emphasis. People will browse and possibly never make it to store, converting them is essential.
  • Are you translating all of the normal seasonal experiences onto digital? Skinning digital platforms so they have seasonal impact is so important. You need to create that digital winter wonderland. But don’t stop there, what about trick or treat? Ultimately think about how you help people enjoy winter events at home this year.
  • How do you ensure customers still browse? Can you use pop ups for suggested ‘add ons’? Could you create a gift market on the home page? Could you design a digital version of the Christmas shop where customers are able to virtually walk through the store and make selections?
  • Finally, but most importantly, is the operation robust? From selection to warehousing to delivery it’s absolutely essential you build in the capacity now so you can deliver on a memorable customer experience people will recommend.

The next 100 days will be different, but brands have an unbelievable chance to do something completely new, engaging and exciting for customers. If you need help developing your strategy then speak to us. We’ve developed successful, award winning marketing campaigns for retailers around the world.

Peter Scott

About Peter Scott

Peter brings over 35 years Retail and Ecommerce leadership experience, recently holding Managing Director roles in International Plc. and Fortune 500 companies. He has worked across a diverse portfolio of businesses including FMCG, Telecoms and Communications, Electronics, Department Stores and Apparel Multiples in the UK, US and Ireland. Peter consults on retail, e-commerce, vendor and commercial strategies.