Discover the top three things to consider for retail holiday communications in 2022 and how intranet software can help this holiday season.
With holiday season almost upon us, retailers are already anticipating the highs and lows of the run-in to 2023. As retailer activity ramps up, it’s also a critical time for internal communicators who are supporting their organizations to thrive throughout their busiest period.
Thanks to rising rates of inflation and a cost-of-living crisis in the US, EU, and UK, the 2022 holiday season looks like it may be a challenging one.
A report from Deloitte in September 2022 forecasted a decline in holiday spending growth, with the year-on-year growth for the November-January period only expected to increase by 6%. In the same period during the previous year, holiday spending increased by over 15%. According to the retail experts monitoring the industry, this lack of growth in 2022 results from rising inflation and a concurrent “declining demand for consumer goods”. The one bright spot in the recent data has been that eCommerce looks set to benefit from the slump, due to online consumers searching for the best deals.
As retailers consider what this economic outlook means for staffing levels, IT and infrastructure projects, internal investment, employee satisfaction, and more, IC teams are also thinking about how to deliver retail holiday communications during an uncertain time.
Here are our top tips on what retail organizations might want to factor in when considering this holiday season from an internal comms perspective.
Internal comms considerations for the holiday season
#1 Staff reallocation
The cost of living crisis has the potential to lower footfall in stores this year, but that doesn’t mean consumers won’t spend through other channels. While some retailers may face the deeply unfortunate prospect of closing stores to cope with the decrease in consumer spending and increase in overheads, they could experience more demand through online channels.
One outcome here may be that retailers will move staff from closed stores to busier locations, or to delivery and supply roles in warehouses and fulfillment centers.
For many employees, being reallocated to different locations or entirely different roles can be disorienting, so great communication (and collaboration with HR) is crucial to smoothing the experience and ensuring they are up-to-speed and supported.
This is where mobile intranet and an employee app can help. Even though they don’t have a desk or computer terminal, with access to the company intranet at their fingertips, employees can quickly find directions to new working locations and discover who to report to when they arrive.
Workers can also learn more about the essential information they will need for their day-to-day roles—including rotas, policies, and procedures. Through social intranet features, they can even build stronger connections with co-workers in their new locations and help to sustain a support network for others who have been reallocated to different roles or branches.
A key consideration for communicators then is planning how to signpost this information, all of which can be achieved through permissions-driven, personalized homepages. By displaying the most relevant content for different groups in prominent intranet homepage locations, communications can be made clearer and the reallocation process made smoother.
For HR professionals too, tracking and measuring how employees are feeling through the holiday season can also be instrumental to providing the right levels of support, especially for those who have been reallocated. This is where regular Pulse Surveys within the intranet allow organizations to show they are listening, and act on the findings.
In busy periods such as the holiday season, quick-fire polls and custom surveys help to gather immediate insights into how people are and what the organization can do better.
#2 Supply chain issues
Information on products and logistics is an important element of retail holiday communications, and this holiday season is no exception. With 51% of consumers expecting supply chain issues to impact product availability for at least the next six to 12 months, this – alongside personal financial pressures and the general stress of holiday shopping – could become a major disruptor to consumer experience and loyalty this holiday season. Yet, it can also be an opportunity for retailers who are transparent about product availability – and/or can help customers find products in other branches – to secure loyalty and stand out against competing retailers.
An intranet can be an essential tool for keeping retail staff updated about stock levels and inventory updates.
How? If your platform enables multichannel communications, it’s easy to circulate urgent updates about in-demand items via multiple touchpoints (e.g., employee app, SMS, employee email newsletter, digital signage, and third-party apps such as Teams and Slack). Covering as many touchpoints as possible helps to ensure all employees – from the frontline to the customer service department – never miss an update. In turn, this helps to answer customer queries and concerns, smoothing both the employee and customer experience.
An intranet with an Enterprise Search tool is another essential feature for surfacing the information employees need. Whether content is buried in a SharePoint subfolder or squirreled away in Google Drive, an intranet with powerful search capabilities can help employees find what they need from any connected document management system, as well as on relevant intranet pages and in the People Directory.
Despite retail’s current challenges, most organizations will still need to fill seasonal vacancies. Again, intranet software can help, this time through efficient onboarding experiences.
Helping temporary and seasonal employees hit the ground running requires a quick and easy enrolment process that creates a sense of belonging, provides them with need-to-know info, and helps them to complete onboarding admin. In the short and busy holiday season, each of these can be difficult to achieve, and overseeing the process can add additional stress to those managing seasonal staff.
A self-service intranet can simplify and speed up onboarding and enrollment by directing users to complete necessary tasks, such as reading mandatory information. The system then keeps a clear record of who has read the content and timely reminders can be issued if necessary.
Interact customer, Voyage Care, has gone a step further to create an engagement-boosting onboarding campaign for frontline staff. A dedicated onboarding area within its intranet features an interactive advent calendar-inspired design that leads them through the onboarding with a different ‘window’ guiding them through a single step each day.
This is an innovative way to engage staff in an industry with high turnover, and could be replicated for training campaigns and providing additional resources for employees who are offered longer-term positions following the holiday season.
Emphasize employee security this holiday season
Retailers across the US are stepping up security in response to rising levels of abuse and violence towards frontline employees. This is thought to be a by-product of the cost-of-living crisis and the associated pressures it is placing on consumers. As well as thinking about the onboarding process for security staff, retailers also need to consider what to communicate to store staff to provide peace of mind that their safety is being considered.
This is where a multichannel intranet is ideal for deploying an internal messaging campaign that emphasizes that store safety is being addressed, outlines the steps that are being taken, and directs employees to safety and security protocols and best practices. A well-timed campaign can be deployed to the right personas (such as frontline staff, store managers, and area managers) across the most effective touchpoints, ensuring this important messaging doesn’t get lost in the noise.
Ending 2022 on a high
However the holiday season pans out, we hope you and your organization can navigate this time safely and end 2022 on a high with retail holiday communications that keep your people informed, motivated, and inspired. And remember, it’s the season for giving, so encouraging recognition via your intranet software is a must!