With only a few weeks to go until the end of the year, retailers will have their attention squarely focused on the festive period. The season of goodwill and cheer it may be, but anyone who’s had to work through the closing weeks of the year will be familiar with just how hectic things can get.
But while Christmas can be a stressful time of year for retailers, the festive period is also where businesses can maximise their sales, using the season as a real opportunity to capitalise. Whether you’re an online retailer or have a physical store, there are plenty of tried-and-tested methods that can boost your sales and get things on the right track this holiday season.
If you’re preparing for the festive season, be sure to take a look at this list of tips you should be using to get the most out of the festive period.
One of the major priorities you should spend time on is training your staff to the best of their ability. And we’re not talking simply about how they’re greeting instore customers; your staff should know how to engage them, be well-versed in selling products and knowing how to spot shoplifting behaviours.
And since you’ll probably be hiring seasonal employees who have to be educated quickly and effectively, it’s good to have a training system in place which can be implemented efficiently. Your staff need to know what they’re selling, but making sure they understand why they’re selling it is equally important. Talk your team through the features and benefits of your products so they can get to know the needs of your customers.
It’s important not to discount old methods of marketing and advertising at this time of the year. Along with your modern marketing mix, physical signs can make a big difference when it comes to grabbing the attention of potential customers. Bold, attractive signage that’s easily noticed will help here; print flyers, stickers and decals that help to boost word of mouth about your business, and make sure your shop front has something that draws the eye to your store.
As a small business, local consumers tend to be your main audience in the early days, and the best way to get people interested at this stage is to make sure they know about you and your brand. A logo that stands out in the community can be invaluable during this period.
If you’ve a popular item whose quantity is dwindling, then take note – running out of stock in the middle of the holiday season is not something you want to happen. Not only are you missing out on sales, the blow your credibility might take by advertising an item that’s not actually in stock is never a good look.
So, how do you avoid disappointment and potentially losing out on customers? A good rule of thumb is to have at least four times the number of products that you’d have during the off-season, and make sure your in-store displays are as stocked up as the back room. If your shelves are looking a bit bare, it tends to reflect poorly on you as a business.
Along with keeping your inventory well-stocked, the inside of your retail store should be as inviting as the outside. If your store is messy, has narrow aisles, or your customers have to push past others to get to your products, then they probably won’t have the most positive shopping experience. People like it when shops are easy to shop in; logically organising and grouping items that make sense together helps out here, especially when combined with signage that directs the customer to the right parts of your store.
Make it easier for people shopping in your store by making sure there’s enough space between products, and that people have room to adequately view and interact with what’s on your shelves.
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With more people coming through the door, the festive period is a good time to round up as much customer data as possible. However you do it, collecting data like names, phone numbers, email and home addresses from your customers can later be tied into marketing campaigns to entice them back to your shop, and turn them into regular shoppers.
You can go beyond their personal contact information too; the more varied the data, the better. Keep track of buying trends and make a note of which products are the most popular with your customers. Conversely, see which items aren’t selling so well and consider what you can do to improve those sales.
Additionally, create customer surveys to gauge their happiness, as this allows you to continue improving your offering in a way that meets the demands of those most loyal to you.
Something that’s a good idea at any time of the year is creating a loyalty program that rewards your most dedicated customers. Not only does it bring in more sales, it helps to strengthen the relationships between your brand and your customers. Programs like this make customers feel valued, special and, perhaps most importantly, more inclined to shop at your store.
Whatever form your loyalty program takes, it’s essential that you make rewards easy to obtain. The more straightforward the program, the more people will be likely to participate.
As tempting as it may be to down tools after the 25th, the holiday rush doesn’t end with Christmas. It’s a good idea to carry on working into mid-January to capitalise on what you’ve achieved.
Post-holiday sales can help you get rid of extra inventory that may be leftover, while you’ll probably have to deal with returns as well, so it’s important that your customer service doesn’t falter here. It might be tough and tiring, but a strong performance during this time will reflect well on you as a business and leave a positive impression on your customers as a result.
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