Christian Retailing

Data Management: Assure customers their data is safe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Erik Ernstrom   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 08:57 AM EDT

Use data to relieve stress, especially during the holidays

Erik-ErnstromHere comes Christmas! It’s time to set up those seasonal displays, hang garland around the store and start playing Christmas music. Even if you’re not doing it yet, you’re definitely thinking about it.

Where will you display Christmas CDs? Which endcaps will have Christmas-themed products? How often will you need to replace and reorder best-sellers? Do you have enough artwork? Toys! Are there enough toy sets and gifts for grandma to purchase? How can you make it easy for rushed customers to pick out a Bible as a gift?

All of these questions, along with about three dozen more, will continue to roll through your head between now and the end of the year. Just trying to keep your doors open and staff scheduled is enough to stress you out during this time of year.

So how do you prepare for this? How can you use the data available to you to at least make some of these tasks easier?

Let’s start by taking advantage of all of the best-seller reports in this industry. You can find regular lists in emails, trade magazines, online and, likely, through your marketing group. Use these lists to determine which types of best-sellers you want to stock during the Christmas season. Traditional best-sellers include books, Bibles, kids books, music and DVDs. But what about finding an area in your store to feature other categories? Use the tools available to you to drill down into those important categories that sell really well during Christmas: audiobooks, fiction, biographies, large-print Bibles and movies.

It won’t take long to pull the top 10 titles and feature the list on the top shelf in their category. What a great way to make it easy for your customers—and your staff—to find just the right gift when they’re in a rush.

Remember to also look at the best-sellers from last year—but don’t try to do this from memory. We can only keep so many things in our heads. You’ll be able to remember some of them, but when you have the tools to find them, why burn brain cells? Jump on a site that allows you to run a list for the next 30 days of last year’s best-selling titles, and place an order for the ones you need.

As you get closer to Christmas, keep these lists handy so you can also easily reorder your best-selling products. You’ll want to keep those best-seller sections full! There’s nothing better than a customer asking for a suggestion, the retailer naming a best-selling product, and then being able to pull it right off the shelf. Buying a product from a best-seller section adds to your customer’s confidence level that it’s the right gift to purchase.

Speaking of customers, we all know how tense and rushed they can be at this time of year. Work with your staff to ensure there isn’t any drama added to your customers’ lives. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, capturing customer information is vital, especially during the holidays. But you need to collect it in a way that is beneficial to your customers. Make sure they understand you’re going to be sending catalogs and emails, and take the opportunity to verify their information.

Always be ready with an answer as to how you protect customer information. Your POS system keeps it safe, your email system protects it, your marketing group safeguards your information, and your mailing list processor follows strict privacy policies. When customers ask about security, don’t make it seem like you’re doing them a favor. Keep your answer simple and reassure them that everything is under “lock and key.”

A couple weeks ago I was in a corporate phone store that had recently changed its security protocol. Unaware of these changes, I was no longer considered an authorized user on the account, which was frustrating. Instead of making an attempt to help, or at least to apologize for the inconvenience, the employee stonewalled me without even a smile. When I turned to leave and got about 10 feet away, he called out, “You’re welcome for protecting your security!”

Thankfully his manager overheard and followed me outside to talk. All is well, and the manager graciously handled the matter. Despite the employee’s attitude, I left knowing that the store is doing me a service by keeping my information safe, and they’re trying to make it something that benefits me more than I can imagine.

So what lessons can we learn from this incident? Retailers need to work with their staff to make sure they understand the privacy safeguards in place—and how best to discuss them with customers. And they  need to encourage staff to have these discussions right next to a best-seller section!

If you need help finding best-seller lists or tips on how to discuss data security, you can contact me at any time at erik.ernstrom@parable.com or 800-366-6031, ext. 525. I’d love to help you during this crazy time of year.


Erik Ernstrom started as a receiver in the backroom of an independently owned Christian retail store, eventually managing that store. He has also managed a customer service department that served 300 Christian retail stores. He now works for The Parable Group, managing the business analytics department that yielded nearly 100 million customer contacts last year.

 

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