4 Ways to Make Your Retail Sales Merry and Bright
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Halloween is behind us. Starbucks holiday cups and drinks are available. The Great Big Toys"R"Us Book of AWWWSOME is out. Despite record warm temperatures in many places across the US, the holiday season is clearly upon us.
If you’re a retailer, you've likely been counting down to this peak shopping time. Worried about hitting your sales goals? Even with shopping already underway, there's still time to position your small business to get the register ringing.
Stock up and staff up.
Whether you're a fan of Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, most small businesses are quick to extend great offers and discounts to drive holiday sales. But make sure you have product at the ready and staff available to support the increased demand. If not, you’ll fall short on meeting customer expectations. Check inventory levels and plan your employee hours to make sure you can support the deals you set forth and increased foot traffic you expect. When you’re prepared, you provide a positive buying experience -- reducing customers' holiday stress and increasing your own sales in the process.
Make shopping fun again!
Holiday shopping can be stressful! While Black Friday offers great sales, it also brings crowded malls, traffic in parking lots and other chaos. Alternatively, shoppers can opt for online options, but lose the personal touch in the process. As a small business, you can stand out and meet customer needs by making holiday shopping pleasant again. Holly and lights are beautiful, but it is the shopping experience that can make your small business truly festive and provide your customers with real holiday spirit. Find interesting inventory for your shelves that gives customers unique gift options. Wrap gifts at no cost to complete the package. Or consider providing nourishment for your weary shoppers - water, coffee or cookies are inexpensive and go a long way in customer experience. These small investments during the holiday season empower you reap significant sales in December and set the stage for continued purchases throughout the year.
Communicate. Then communicate again.
The shopping season is long and getting longer every year. Some shoppers have closets full of gifts already. Some will be racing to the store on December 24th and others will gift even into the new year. It's the season of catalogs and constant email notifications of sales and seasonal sweaters. As a small business, it can be hard to stand out. So be sure to get in touch with customers now and keep in touch throughout the holiday season. This is also a great time to take a look at your year-round communications. If you're top of mind throughout the year, you're more likely to stay there during the holiday season. Ensure your communications are professional, interesting and valuable to your customers. And take advantage of all of the communications tools at your fingertips - not just email and social media, but also good ol' fashioned means of communication including snail mail and the telephone.
Get in on on-demand.
Not every gift giver is a bricks and mortar shopper. Some prefer the comfort of shopping from home, some may have a last-minute gift they forgot to pick up, and others just can't make the time to go to Main Street. Gift certificates and subscription boxes are loved by all gift recipients and are super easy for shoppers to purchase. Plus, they allow you to make sales through your website while you sleep! Another bonus - subscription boxes reinforce your brand and quality with the gift recipient month after month – increasing their likelihood of future purchases and referrals. Even if you don't have e-commerce on your website yet, you can likely be up and running in just a few minutes as most POS systems have an online module you can easily implement. And don't forget to tell your customers you offer these gifting options! Go back to the communications you're already sending and add in messaging about your gifting options.
This year, the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve share the box on the calendar. Get going now to make sure your small business is ready to help make your customers’ holidays merry and bright!
Passionate about small business and customer-centric marketing, Hillary is the founder of Popcorn and Ice Cream, the author of Customer, LLC: The Small Business Guide to Customer Engagement and Marketing, and a Google Small Business Advisor. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, Hillary can also be found building lemonade stands with her three budding entrepreneurs at home.