First, it’s Amazon Prime Day on Oct. 10, then comes Black Friday on Nov. 24, closely followed by Cyber Monday on Nov. 27. With at least three major discount events, the 2023 holiday season will surely put store and warehouse teams to daily tests of collaboration.

Retailers intent on finishing up the season with healthy figures and taming costs would do well to find smart ways of lightening the load for the people who make a bumper Q4 in retail possible.

With shopper habits and demand likely to swell and dip erratically across different retail verticals and channels, it’s the retail teams best equipped to do more with less in half the time who’ll come out on top, with energy to spare.

Here Are the Factors That Could Stretch Underprepared Retail Teams to Breaking Point in 2023

Notoriously, the holiday season places retail teams under elevated and prolonged duress, both physical and mentally. But it’s not just longer hours and changing shift patterns.

This 2023 holiday season, retailers will witness a host of diverse shopping habits, reflecting yet more shifts in consumer preferences and new economic realities.

According to multiple sources, including Retail Insight Network (RIN), consumers are “expected to adopt an omni-channel approach during the 2023 holiday season, seeking to make purchases in-store and online, anytime and anywhere.”

RIN also report that e-commerce is anticipated to see a notable YoY increase of +6.7%, with in-store sales forecasted to grow by +2.9%.

 Needless to say, even seasoned store and warehouse teams could be caught off guard.

Consumers Will “Spread Cheer Across Channels”

With holiday season shoppers expected to mix things up, with an “online” and “offline” approach, bricks-and-mortar teams may encounter a greater need than usual to satisfy both in-store customer demand and online orders simultaneously.

Possible workforce well-being impact: Satisfying hybrid shopping, online and offline, puts retailers under greater pressure to unify a seamless experience across channels, and store employees may find themselves constantly shifting gears, adapting to varied customer touchpoints. Such multitasking pressures can lead to increased mental fatigue, potential oversights, and reduced job satisfaction.

For businesses, this may manifest as higher error rates, strained employee retention, and potential challenges in maintaining consistent service quality. Mitigating the omni-channel juggling act impact on teams will be crucial for maintaining a motivated and efficient workforce during the holiday season.

Flash Sales May Break the Internet (And Cause Stampedes)

With household name retailers such as Best Buy already announcing 48-hour flash sale events, e-commerce teams in particular can expect to get hit hard.

With hundreds of 48-hour deals on some of the best tech products available, shoppers will likely take to online channels in hoards.

Possible workforce impact: From staffing and shift adjustments to warehouse and store layout shakeups, departments responsible for running flash sale events will face intense disruption, greater even than the last-minute Christmas rush.

Skill shortages may become particularly visible, causing possible frustration in team members who may feel out of their depth when deployed into temporarily repurposed roles.

Longer hours and rapidly shifting store and warehouse layout — these and other factors can hamper workforce well-being and morale to the point of impacting turnover negatively during or after the holiday season.

Hyper-Personalized Promotions Will Redefine Roles and Stretch Skills

According to online checkout company, Bolt, online retailers will lean heavily on hyper-personalization, seeking to tempt inflation-hit consumers with relevant, engaging experiences tailored to highly specific preferences.

Possible workforce impact: Understanding customer preferences and purchase history requires careful cross-departmental collaboration and specific data skills that some staff members may not be used to leveraging. There’s also the cognitive and emotional load of being expected to engage with customers in new ways; to make tailored suggestions and to remember preferences.

If your teams boast an abundance of those skills and are used to hyper-personalizing customer offerings, it’s no big thing. If you’re activating “hyper-personalization mode” just for the holiday season, expect a few browbeaten faces among your teams.

Here’s How To Lighten the Load for Retail Teams During (and After) Holiday Season 2023

If your retail teams are still working with siloed data and communication systems, those long hours will get longer and minor errors will become a major loss of opportunity.

To keep holiday revenue, morale and team well-being up, and costs down, it’s not too late to layer AI-infused microservice capabilities to existing architecture.

Here are a few advantages and reasons why you should.

Centralize Order Management

Integrating online, in-store, and mobile orders gives teams across environments a “one source of truth” view of all orders from all channels, reducing the fatigue and “switch cost” of constantly flipping between different systems and interfaces.

It also means task allocation and execution become streamlined, creating error-free certainty and the peace of mind that comes with it.

Real-Time Inventory Visibility

Real-time inventory visibility means staff can immediately inform in-store customers about product availability or online order availability during out-of-stock situations, reducing the time and stress spent checking product availability across different systems.

Automated Order Routing

When online orders are placed, automated order routing intelligently determines the best fulfillment location (whether it’s a warehouse, distribution center, or retail store). This minimizes the manual effort retail teams usually invest in deciding where orders should be fulfilled.

Prioritization and Task Management

With the right Blue Yonder order management microservice layered onto an existing architecture, you can prioritize orders based on various factors like delivery deadlines, customer loyalty status, or order size. Employees, therefore, can focus on fulfilling high-priority orders first without getting overwhelmed by a deluge of simultaneous requests.

Integrated Communication

Blue Yonder’s order management microservices also integrate communication channels. For instance, if an online order is ready for in-store pickup, automated notifications can be sent to customers, reducing the burden on employees to manually communicate order statuses.

 Data-Driven Insights

Upgrading to purpose-built order and inventory management means teams gain insights into peak order times, popular products, or common customer queries. This data can be used to pre-emptively allocate resources, ensuring employees aren’t suddenly overwhelmed.

It’s Not Too Late: In Weeks, a Single Blue Yonder Microservice Could Help Your Teams Do More With Less in Half the Time

For those who understand the value of effortless teamwork, Blue Yonder’s microservices bring AI sophistication to the way retail teams predict and meet demand this holiday season, without the needless heavy lifting and stress.

Schedule your strategy call here with a Blue Yonder expert. They’ll explain how quickly you can implement the right microservice to support retail teams throughout holiday season operations.