Happy 2015 Holiday Season Expected For Retailers
Now is the time to prepare your retail business to “cash in” on sales projected for this holiday season! Here’s why: The August report from EMarketer.com states that the 2015 holiday season is expected to see the biggest sales increase since 2011. Also, the November and December retail sales are projected to increase 5.7% over the same period in 2014. Reasons for these positive sales projections are:
- Increase in “real” income
- Decrease in unemployment
- Consumers’ willingness to spend in traditional retail categories
Here are seven suggestions that can help you take advantage of this encouraging upswing to boost holiday sales:
1. Get Your Store Ready
A lot of shoppers start early, so be ready. Make sure you have inventory in stock or on order. If you’re going to do any advertising, set your budget and reserve ad space now. Get your deals, discounts, and promotions in place, and start them posting on social media. Determine your staffing needs and plan your employees’ holiday schedules.
2. Get Your Staff Ready
You should always have your employees trained to deliver great service, of course. But they will need to go the extra mile during the holiday shopping season. It is crucial that the sales staff stay positive, friendly, and helpful. Even when the store is extra busy, staff members will need to spend extra time with customers to help them find what they need — and do it with a good attitude. Introduce a bonus program for your employees in advance, so they know their hard work will be appreciated and rewarded.
3. Sell Gift Cards (or Certificates)
Everybody loves gift cards. They save the buyer time. The recipient gets to come in later and shop for themselves. You don’t have to cover the inventory yet. It’s a win-win-win! Here’s a great tip: reward the person buying the gift card or certificate. They just referred your business to a friend or loved one — a potential new customer for you. “This person should get a coupon, a small gift, or some expression of appreciation…”
4. Connect With Your Community
Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see if your town is doing a “shop local” campaign. If so, find a way to participate and promote both the local business community and your own business. Also, look for opportunities to promote local charities — either by joining a campaign or creating one to support a cause of your choice. You could, for example, donate a portion of all sales or sales of a particular item. Or perhaps you could match donations customers make while in the store. Be creative, encourage participation, and do some good in your community.
5. Create an Emotional Experience
Consumers today are very brand conscious by way of all their senses. Most people are visual learners, and the holidays provide a great time to decorate your business to create an emotional brand experience. Adding sight and sound creates a great ambiance for shoppers. It can also reduce stress from hectic schedules and make consumers slow down and “smell the roses.”
Strong emotions can be triggered by smell. Of all the senses, smell has the most direct path to the emotional center of the brain. Adding a scent marketing program can facilitate a serene state, prompting you to relax, buy more, and create memorable brands. From the time a customer enters your facility until they depart, you have an opportunity to create a fresh-scent brand experience.
Customers may remember you more by what they smell than what they see. And research shows that a pleasant aroma, even a very light one can create a unique brand experience that forges powerful emotional connections between you and your customers.
6. Track Your Results
As best you can, monitor your sales results. In other words, how many customers and sales dollars came from each advertising campaign, promotion, or offer? It’s okay to ask customers what brought them into the store. You can use the knowledge you gain to adjust your efforts from week to week and plan for next year.
7. Help Busy Retailers
If yours is not a retail business, the holidays provide you with a great opportunity to partner with retail stores and help them achieve their success — all while building brand awareness for your own business.
Retailers are busy through the holidays, so make a connection and build a relationship that benefits you both. As an example: if your business is food service, you can generate sales by reaching out to retailers now to arrange meal deliveries for their staff on busy days and hectic weeks. If you are a staffing company, you can aide in providing retailers with temporary workers. If your non-retail business provides any useful service, make sure to schedule those services now. Retailers will appreciate the freedom to focus on their own holiday rush without being sidetracked.