As October is winding down, most retailers are getting ready for the next two months of shopping. For many, this becomes the busiest time of the year where more than half of the year’s sales are made. Each year presents a new and exciting challenge. While its the usual hustle and bustle of customer, making sure you have the right amount of product, that you’re fully staffed, and your store is ready to take on the season, what makes it such a challenge is new and exciting products are different, customer demands are different, even the weather plays an important factor in your sales. Regardless whether you are a seasoned veteran or a rookie to the Christmas shopping season, following these simple tips to ensure you are ready can make all of the difference.
- Preparation: One can never be too prepared for the holiday season. For the newcomers, do your research on your industry. See what others have done for proper inventory, staffing levels, store hours etc. For those whose done this a time or two, look at past years to see what worked well and what you can improve upon. It also doesn’t hurt to take a look at your competition to see what they are doing. Regardless, proper preparation is the key first step to making this holiday season a success.
- Freshen Your Look: Take a look at your store and refresh the look and feel. Reorganize how your product is laid out and make sure you place key products or hot items in an attractive display to catch your customer’s eye.
- Decorate: I am guilty of having Christmas decorations up and lit before Thanksgiving. While this can pose as a distraction or even anger some, having your decorations up early on as opposed to waiting for Thanksgiving will give you an advantage. Tastefully decorated stores sets a mood that entices customers to start shopping for their families and friends. There is such a thing as overdoing it so be careful how much you decorate. You do need to do more than just a little garland but not to the extreme of Clark Griswold. Because each store is different, there really isn’t a right way or a wrong way to decorate. You will know when enough is enough.
- Study The Latest Trends: I’m not talking about spending time on Pinterest see what everyone else is doing. Instead, study some of the hottest items of the year, what are their benefits and why is it that people are so interested in them. Being knowledgeable in these items and having them in stock will give you an advantage over your competition.
- Staff Your Store: This is a much harder topic to tackle. On the one hand, you want to make sure you’re fully staffed but at the same time, your bottom line can’t handle being over-staffed. Seasoned businesses will have a much easier time in determining staffing levels as opposed to newer businesses. Our recommendation is to take the total number of hours you are open and divide that number by 40. That is the total number of people you need at a minimum. In researching your competition, you will discover what their busy times are and so you want to make sure during those times you have at least 2 people on hand for roughly a 1,500 square foot store. For every 500 sq feet thereafter, make sure you have 1 additional person. Again slower times will not require as many people. Regardless of how many you hire / employ, we can’t stress enough to make the investment into your people as they are your greatest asset. Take care of your people, and they will take care of you.
- Plan Your Marketing: Make sure your November and December’s ad campaigns are fully planned out by November 1st. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to implement a new ad or marketing campaign during your busy time. Of course we recommend hiring a marketing company as they are the experts or at the very least, work with one for your planning. If you absolutely insist on doing things last minute or even as you go, don’t try to do it alone. Here at Experius Marketing, our client’s marketing plans are usually done by October 1st for the last 3 months of the year and we do this for 98% of our clients.
- Extra Makes Things Extraordinary: The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Kind of a cliché phrase but it definitely means the world in customer service. If you customers come in for a product or service and you help them with what they came in for, you have made a sale and the customer leaves satisfied. Imagine though if you went up and beyond for your customer. Offering the batteries for that new toy or the additional accessories to make their new product more enjoyable is a great way of going over the top to ensure your customers are taken care of. The best part is, your customers will see that you were looking out for their best interest, they will remember the experience and either come back in themselves or tell friends about the experience or both. That is one area of marketing that no one can buy or procure; Word of Mouth, and that has a higher effect on your business than anything else.
- Have Fun: We all know how hectic this time of year can be. By having fun and staying relaxed about everything, you can help keep your customers calm, perhaps even reduce some of their stress, and make the experience even more enjoyable. The best part is, it makes for an enjoyable work place where your employees will want to work instead of it just being a job.
At the end of the day, your business is your livelihood and you have two options, sweat through the holiday season and hope you make it through or enjoy the holiday season and put your worries at bay. Keep in mind, if you have questions or just need advice, give us a call and we are happy to help where we can. This is also a great time to take advantage of our Free Marketing Analysis. We have been offering this now for the past year and it has helped so many businesses realize that their marketing campaigns have fallen short. There is no cost for this advice, give it a try and see where you stand.