How ready is your business for the upcoming holiday season?
Retail analysts predict a 15.3% increase in sales this year compared to a 17.8% increase last year. Make sure you are ready to provide customers with unique products, great deals, and exceptional customer service to get your unfair share of the $691.9 billion in sales before the competition has opened their doors.
Define Your Own Season
Don't allow your business to be limited by what the calendar says.
Start generating some excitement for the "official" season by offering specials earlier in the year.
People may not be looking for holiday products, but when they see a unique offering, they may realize the wisdom of taking advantage of the sale early on.
Online retailers such as QVC have Christmas specials in July. Following many holidays, people might say to themselves, "I'm going to get ready for this holiday earlier next year," but forget until you remind them with your ads.
Selling "outside" of your season also allows you to experiment with new products and marketing techniques. It gives you a chance to gauge customer reaction to products and services before you stock your shelves with inventory for the holiday season.
When the season arrives, you'll have a better idea of where to invest your advertising dollars.
Even if you are only open during the holidays, start your marketing campaigns at least two months before opening your doors for business, as Retail Doc explains.
This generates some anticipation of your opening. Advertise your new products and services. Talk about your customer service and business philosophy. Tell people why you love what you do.
This is a great time to engage people through social media. Facebook posts about upcoming specials and activities can have people bookmarking your information for future reference.
Posting photos of new products on Pinterest will get customers' attention. Asking for product reviews from previous customers will get some discussion going through the social networks.
Generate a buzz by advertising early and create customer anticipation.
Protect Your Cash Flow
If your business is truly seasonal, then your monthly cash flow will cycle greatly. You'll be ordering inventory before you start bringing in this year's revenue. Fox News Small Business writes that your money management should consist of keeping your operating costs low, and saving wherever and whenever you can. Purchasing used office equipment, outsourcing time-consuming services, and sharing resources whenever possible will help you stay on top of your budget.
Prepare Your Team
Hire your seasonal workers early, and give them plenty of training. It's tempting to hire the temp worker for a few weeks or months, throw them into the shop, and go to lunch. For them to be effective at increasing your sales, they need to be trained in a number of areas:
- Opening and closing the shop
- Operating the register, POS terminals and other devices
- Product knowledge
- Store policy knowledge, such as exchanges and returns
- Giving great customer service
When staff is not struggling with operational details, they have more focus on customer service. Customers who have poor experiences with staff in a shop may also provide negative reviews on the social media platforms, which can impact your business.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.