According to the National Retail Federation, which has been gauging the U.S. population’s feelings about Halloween since 2004, this year could set a record. Americans are planning to spend an average of $86.79 on everything from candy to costumes.
“The economy is good and consumer confidence is high, so families are ready to spend on Halloween this year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
All of which means retailers need to be certain they have been stocking up on the right items if they’re to have a ghost of a chance this Halloween season.
“Historical data is always the best place to start when deciding on what merchandise to stock, how many assistants you need in store and what sort of demand you contact centers will face,” explains Mike Small, Chief Client Officer, Americas at Sitel Group. “If you have a genuine customer service partner managing your channels, that company should already know if it’s time to ramp up the number of agents supporting your business and they will already be trained and in place.”
But even with good data and best-practice customer service, the way consumer tastes change from year to year can be impossible to predict, even with a Ouija Board. For example, while buying or renting a costume is a well-established Halloween tradition – 68 percent of Halloween shoppers will be buying one – who or what will people be dressing up as this October 31?
“Monitoring social media can help fill in the gaps, but taking an active presence on one of the networks is better still,” says Gordon White, General Manager Americas TSC, Sitel Group’s digital CX agency. “Instagram and Pinterest are coming into their own as sources of inspiration for people of all ages, but particularly millennials, looking for costume ideas. So use those channels to reach out, directly.”
When it comes to engaging with customers via social channels, be your best spooky and authentic self.
“Customers won’t be scared by your brand as long as you’re adding something valuable to the conversation,” points out White. “Better yet, in addition to candy corny jokes, post a coupon for a costume. A recent Survata study of U.S. attitudes to social media shows that consumers place most value on posts about potential savings or how-to content in their news feed.”
According to the NRF study, this year, most adults will be going as a witch or a vampire and as for the 3.8 million children that want to play dress up on the night, the top costume choices are a princess or a superhero.
However, could dressing up be going to the dogs?
“One of the biggest Halloween retail trends this year is the growth of spending on pet costumes,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President of Strategy Prosper Insights, the company that conducted the research on the NRF’s behalf. “31.3 million Americans [are] planning to dress their pets in costumes…the highest we have seen in the history of our surveys.”
And the most popular ways of dressing up a pet will be as a pumpkin or a hotdog. And what happens if neither outfit is on the shelves when a Halloween shopper and their dog stop by?
“Shopping in-store is increasingly about experience. It’s as important as the products you sell,” begins Nicolas Raffin, head of Innso, Sitel Group’s software venture. “Friendly and knowledgeable sales assistants, spaces decorated to reflect the season, ideas and inspiration. But crucially the support behind the scenes to make sure you can deliver on a customer’s request.”
For example Innso’s Interactions Platform automates requests for merchandise and service between outlets and connect sales teams with customer support:
“It helps with a smoother in-store experience,” says Raffin. “In-store employees can make requests with a few clicks and can track the progress of all orders or demands in real time. Being able to see that a demand for a pumpkin costume is being dealt with leaves a sales assistant free to concentrate on serving customers.”
There is of course another much simpler way of keeping your customers satisfied. Offer them candy. Americans intend to spend a frightening $2.6 billion on candy – 95 percent of Halloween shoppers have it on their list.
Whether your company wants to avoid a fright on Halloween night or wants to scare the competition all year round, Sitel Group has the retail expertise – from developing and implementing omnichannel strategies and data analytics to providing customer care services – to bewitch your customers.