Many thanks to Retail Minded Magazine and Kizer & Bender from the Retail Adventures blog for contributing this post.
Are you ready to get ready for Holiday 2013? Time’s a wastin’! That old saying, “Retail is in the details” is never truer than it is during the holidays. Those details… including dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s… may not seem so important when the thermometer reads 75, but they make all the difference in the world when you have a store-full of impatient shoppers on December 15th.
6 things that must be on your Holiday 2013 Things to Do List!
1. Plan your holiday in-store events.
This is not an option. You need to host at least one major event like a Christmas Open House and one or two minor events every week in November and December. You need to do something to thrill shoppers on Black Friday, as well as Small Business Saturday.
2. Hire seasonal staff.
You can teach people how to work with customers, but you can’t teach nice, so choose your temp staff with care. This is the time of year when testy shoppers get well, even testier. Commit to a training schedule, and partner each new hire with a seasoned associate who can mentor them throughout their holiday employment.
3. Cover these basics:
* Repair, repaint, and replace everything on your To-Do list now. You want everything crossed off the list by mid-October. You don’t need the hassle of replacing the valve in the ladies room toilet a week before Christmas.
* Take a physical inventory of your “never out” store supplies, the things that would be an absolute disaster if you ran out of them on a busy Saturday. Shopping bags and gift certificates top the list, but even toilet paper is important.
* Create your “Top 10 Lists of Not-to-be-Missed Holiday Gifts” that are available from your store. Every staffer needs to know what’s on it so they can make smart gift recommendations. Have plenty of copies on hand and place them throughout the store. Feature your lists on your website, social media, in your newsletter, and on bag stuffers.
* Be prepared on December 26 with a plan to clear leftover holiday products. Decide what needs to be marked down, how much it will be discounted (hint: the first markdown should be the deepest), and how it will be displayed on the sales floor.
* Determine how you will handle customer returns. Make sure that your customer-friendly return/exchange policy is clearly posted in the store, behind the cash wrap, and on your website. You may also want to include it in the not-so-fine print on your holiday bag-stuffers. Decide now where and how returns will be processed: at the cash wrap or on a separate table.
* Skip the auto-response, “Would you like your money back?” Instead, ask each customer if she’d like to look around for something else or receive a gift card; you’ll save more sales that way. But if she insists on a refund, then give her one with a smile. You want her to come back and shop with you again.
4. Choose a holiday theme.
What’ll it be this year? Home for the Holidays? Victorian Christmas? It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, or The Nutcracker? Whatever store décor theme you choose, go for it! These over-the-top displays have a job to do: put customers in a happy mood to spend. So, set your windows to sell, play holiday music, and holiday-ize your dress code. Serve Christmas cookies and cocoa on weekends. Set a schedule of what needs to happen and when, then stick to it.
5. Set up your sales floor to encourage holiday sales.
Make a list of these key areas and check them daily:
- The Decompression Zone is the first 5′ to 10′ just inside your store’s front door. This is where shoppers refocus and collect themselves for the shopping ahead. They will miss anything you place here, so leave it empty. Just beyond the Decompression Zone is where the shopping begins.
- Speed Bump Displays are small tables loaded with irresistible product placed front and center, just beyond your Decompression Zone. Their job is to stop busy shoppers in their tracks and redirect their focus to your merchandise. Change your Speed Bump displays at least once a week, whether they need it or not.
- Keep shoppers hands-free! Customers who shop with a cart or a basket spend 25 percent more in dollars and up to 15 minutes longer in the store. Place your carts and/or baskets just past the Decompression Zone and throughout the store. Keep an eye open for customers carrying product; you’ll want to get them a basket ASAP. We tend to tend to stop shopping when our hands are full. The Good-L Corporation makes shopping carts for even the smallest of stores.
- Cross-Merchandise by displaying complementary product together. You’ll save shoppers time and sell more stuff! Bundle items on tables; create kits; cross-merchandise with clip-strips and j-hooks everywhere you can. You’ll encourage add-on purchases and increase your average sale.
- Impulse buying at the cash wrap. Your cash wrap should be loaded with product shoppers just can’t pass up. Set a fab display of gifts on the wall behind your cash wrap so customers never stop thinking about your merchandise. And be sure to place displays of cool product within reach of the cash wrap, so customers can continue to shop while they wait in line to pay for their purchases.
- Encourage gift card/certificate sales: Studies show that 80 percent of customers spend more than the face value of the gift card, and 40 percent of customers spend more than twice the face value of the card. A gift card stuffed in an envelope doesn’t look like much, even if it’s for a high dollar amount, but a gift card that’s placed in tissue paper and wrapped in a pretty gift box is something special. Your gift card packaging builds a perception about your store in the customer’s mind when she opens it. Don’t skip this important step!
6. Work your social media.
Social networking builds word of mouth, the number one thing that brings new customers to your store. Give it some extra oomph this holiday season.
- Increase your number of e-mail blasts from one or two a month, to three or four a month. Customers expect extra offers during the holidays. And remember, not every one has to include a deal. Offer gift suggestions, holiday décor ideas, and more.
- The photos you choose to represent your store need to stand out on a busy news feed. Choose photos that are easily identifiable and add a holiday twist.
- Talk about product and services that make great holiday gifts. Always include a photo, and pepper your posts with the words Christmas, Hanukkah and Holiday. Gift certificates are strong sellers during the holidays, so promote them weekly. Use Facebook’s Post Promoter to draw attention to posts you don’t want fans to miss.
- Offer coupons and inside deals that are only available via your social medias – if someone is not a friend or follower they miss out. Encourage customers to join you online via your social medias, website, e-mail blasts, newsletters, and signing in your store.
- Use the Facebook Events tab to help you organize and promote your holiday happenings. Invite friends and fans, and encourage them to invite their friends as well. You can see who RSVPs, comments, and more.
- On Twitter, holiday related hashtags – #Christmas, #Hanukkah #holiday, #gifts, #coupons, #Santa, etc. – at the end of your tweets will help you connect with an audience that reaches far beyond your current followers.
And when Holiday 2013 is over, after you take that well-deserved, week-long vacation, make notes about what worked and what did not, and what you wish you’d done differently. Your notes will be important when it’s time to plan Holiday 2014!