The retailer’s Christmas supper tastes as sweet as the amount of money in his sales register warrants. The pre-Christmas to the New Year period is make or break for thousands of retailers across the globe, particularly those relying on the calendar-year end shopping impetus to attain their annual profit targets. Let’s throw some very important numbers at you.

National Retail Federation, touted as the largest retail trade association in the world, dominated mainly by the US and 45 other countries, unveiled a detailed report in October 2016 showed how ‘holiday sales’ had indicated a steady increase beginning in 2009.

The 2015 holiday season retail store sales clocked $633 bn and with the 2016 holiday season knocking at the doors (at the time of writing this post) and promising an estimated 3.6% growth, there is more than one reason for any retail store owner to rise up for some high octane selling.

We’ve put together a mix of conventional and contemporary, sales focused and marketing focused, conservative and innovative tactics that will help you get on the holiday season selling bandwagon.

Plan Your Inventory Well in Advance

For several small and mid-sized retailers, as much as 40% of their annual sales are recorded in the last 2 months of the year. Imagine what this means for your inventory and supply chain management practices. A recent Emory University Report outlined how having a single item of stock can reduce the total intended sales basket size by 50%. Here are some smart practices to adopt:

  • Communicate a sense of variety and abundance through your store’s front display.
  • Stock up on non-perishable high margin goods, you’ve got nothing to lose since you have all year to sell them even if you do not sell them all during Christmas.
  • Refer to last couple of years’ sales numbers and identify the stars of your holiday season sales―stock up on these. You do not want to miss out.
  • Create product bundles to increase the chances of moving more product.
  • Start keeping an eye on your purchase orders a couple of months before the holiday sales season kicks in, you don’t want to be at the wrong end of a mismanaged supply chain.

Plan a Detailed Promotions (Discounts) Strategy

Unless you’re operating in a market where there’s no ‘sales and promotion’ activity during the holiday season, you have every reason to start think about your ‘sales’ planning before you enter November. All retailers in the marketplace will put up one or several promotional offers but it’s about whose promotion clicks with the customer. And it doesn’t always have to be the one with the largest discount. Here are some options:

  • An Offer a Day: Though tedious to manage, such a promotions strategy ensures audiences remain interested in your store throughout the season. Use this method if you have a portfolio of several products that are in focus during holiday sales. This strategy is about going gangbusters for a limited time (1 day, for instance) on well-known merchandise.
  • Tiered Discounts: More they buy, more they save, it’s as simple as that. If you’re in a business where large purchase sizes can offset the impact of discounts being offered by you, this is a sound approach. Tiered discounts help drive large volume sales and group shopping.
  • Super Saver Hours: A smart way of balancing out store footfall is to offer higher discounts during lean periods, such as pre-noon period. This makes sure there’s selling action at your store throughout the day, and helps you easily manage the peak hour footfall.

It’s equally critical that you spread the word about your holiday season promotions, using one or more of these superb methods that work for retailers across the globe.

Use Email Marketing Campaigns with Focused Goals

Experts argue that email marketing is still a striking tactic in terms of social media marketing. Plus, when you’re focused on getting a distinct action out of your customer (store visit, more number of SKUs per purchase, replenishment, etc.), an email can do the job for you, and can do it quickly. A recent McKinsey report also highlighted how email marketing has 3 times the effectiveness of social media marketing.

If you have a database of customer and potential customer contacts, you can improve your holiday season sales using email marketing. Just do not send too many emails!

Look to promote specific higher margin and premium products to regular customers during the holiday sales’ period. If you’ve set up Christmas and New Year special products, send out previews to customers via email. Also, leverage email marketing to spread the word about your entire holiday season promotions. Remember to check out HubSpot’s list of practical ideas of holiday season email marketing.

Adopt Proximity Marketing to Drive More Sales from New Customers

For the optimist, anybody who passes your store during your Christmas sale is a potential customer. This is where proximity marketing becomes a potent tool to help drive store visits and sales during the last 2 months of the year. Beacon triggered messages influenced retails sales worth $4.1 bn in the USA in 2015 and 2016.

Using proximity marketing services like iBeacon and Smart Antenna, you can broadcast enticing messages to people within the vicinity of your store, and motivate them to make a store visit. Add some personalize offers into the mix, and you have a very powerful sales channel to work for you during the holiday selling season. Prominent retailers across the globe have already adopted proximity marketing; there are valuable lessons and best practices to be learned from them.

Future Use Coupons – Your Secret Weapon to Strike a Balance Between Promotions and Profitability

Whether you’re looking to supplement your routine discount offers with something additional, or looking for an alternative to discounts, consider the option of future use coupons. Offers such as: “Make a purchase of $99 or above this Christmas week, and get 10% off the next purchase you make worth $99 or above”. Compared to a conventional 10% discount, such a promotional offer has the following benefits:

  • You motivate shoppers to purchase at least worth $99 worth of goods
  • The discount comes into the picture only at a later stage
  • Subsequent purchase values would also be higher than $99
  • There would be customers who would not to forget to click on the forget coupon option the next time they shop from you!

Creating web pages for your coupon offers makes your store relevant for web users searching for coupons for holiday season shopping. The effectiveness of coupons to drive customer actions such as store and brand switching, higher purchasing, store visits, and so forth are time tested, and it’s time for you to mix them into your holiday season promotions strategy.

Up-selling –The Art of Increasing Purchase Size

Don’t confuse up-selling with add-on selling, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Whereas add-on selling is about pairing together products that complement each other, up-selling is a tactic wherein you expose your customer to premium (often higher margin) products of the same product line the customer is interested in. Here are some of the best practices of up-selling.

  • Aim to provide more value to the customer via a premium product.
  • Engage in dummy up-sell sessions with your store’s sales people and shopping assistants to help them get better at timing and contextualizing their up-selling attempts.
  • Don’t attempt to up-sell items that don’t focus on the core benefit or service that the customer is looking for.
  • Plan the up-selling processing by having more than one premium product on the shelf, coupled with special promotions associated with them.

Check out the holiday season up-selling best practice guide from International Council of Shopping Centers.

Innovative Gift Wrapping and Packaging can Make a Difference

Be innovative with gift-wrapping; it will help make your store more popular for holiday season shoppers and will help invigorate sales. Most stores will offer free gift wrapping. You can be different by innovating on the styles of gift wrapping, or giving free Christmas tags and cards along with items that are sold (perhaps higher than a certain price tag threshold). Look to use special and pretty carry-bags and reusable gift tags that your customers would love to use when they exchange gifts among family and friends.

Pre-package your fast moving goods; this helps you manage peak hour store traffic by shortening the checkout process. CountryLiving’s Christmas season gift wrapping ideas guide can help you choose some of the quick and inexpensive options. There are many strategies you can adopt. There is no one size fits all option. Just because something works for one store or retailer does not mean it will work for another.

Incentivize User Reviews and Social Shares

Your customers will not part with their email address just because you politely ask them for it at the checkout counter. Your customer will not mention your store on his/her Facebook profile just because you gave them a stellar deal. Here’s a tactic that can start off an avalanche of sales activity for your store:

  • Motivate your store visitors to take a selfie with your storefront display and share on Facebook or Instagram, for an instant 10% discount. Ask a happy customer to leave a store review on your website and help himself to a $20 discount on his or her next purchase. The key is to tie an incentive to a customer action, with instant redemption.

Final Words

The suitability of these tactics and strategies could be alter based on the kind of products you sell and marketplace you operate in. The important bit is to recognize the need to be unique, start well in time so you do not rush things and get careless, and chart out a detailed holiday season sales and promotions map.

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