Christmas is the retail holiday. Few things get consumers as excited as buying presents for their loved ones. Historically, about a fifth of all spending sales for retail are made around the holiday season.
This year will prove to be more challenging than Christmases past. Covid-19 has hammered many retailers over the last several months, and lingering concerns threaten revenue streams heading into December. To get your fair share of holiday spending in 2020, take these steps:
The best way to sidestep Covid-19 concerns is to focus on your e-commerce experience. Even before the pandemic struck, consumers were gravitating toward online shopping. This holiday season is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the trend.
Prepare for an onslaught of online sales as you focus on this channel. Beef up your packing and shipping team to meet the demand, and test your website to ensure it can handle the increased traffic.
You can also go the extra mile with your customers by offering them additional education on the gifts they buy. For example, if you’re a retailer who sells a luxury item like cashmere, you can educate your customers on where it comes from and how to take care of it.
Offer a Promotion
Aside from holiday spending, this season is a time for savings. Just look at any ad posted during the last two months of the year. Consumers go crazy for holiday deals, and offering the right one will have them in lines out your door (six feet apart, of course).
Holiday promotions come in all shapes and sizes. Buy-one-get-one, any percentage off, and a host of colorful coupons are all viable options. Don’t go overboard with the discounts, though. You still want to be making money when all is said and done.
Leverage Social Media And PR
With consumers spending more time online than ever during Covid-19, you’ll want to use social media and PR to drive sales. Your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds are the perfect places to broadcast your promotions and draw attention to your store in general. You can make an effort to get on lists of resources that show up when people are searching online. For example, if you are selling something for college students get on a college packing list so that when people search for these resources your products come up.
Covid-19 has made consumers more aware of the potential for supply chain disruptions than they were before (see: toilet paper). You can both reassure and entice them by highlighting the high-demand items you have in stock. New video game consoles, for example, will be in short supply this year. If you have some on hand, you can get them sold before they even hit the shelves by notifying your social media followers.
Contests and giveaways are another way to drum up business. To win a valuable prize, followers will be happy to like and share your post and tag their friends. Capitalize on the free exposure by adding store information to the post so that viewers will be lured through your doors.
Take Visible Safety Precautions
If customers feel safe shopping at your store, you’ll see more of them more often. Safety wasn’t something you particularly had to think about in past years, but Covid-19 has upended the way consumers shop and the ways businesses welcome them.
Prioritize the safety of your customers (and employees) by installing plexiglass barriers at checkout registers and frequently cleaning public areas. Make masks and hand sanitizer available at entryways and exits, and ensure your staff members wear their masks properly at all times.
You can go the extra mile by offering contactless pickup and delivery options. These go hand-in-hand with your online experience, and they’re a convenient way for customers to receive their purchases without potentially exposing themselves to Covid-19.
Maximize In-Store Efficiency
As long as your doors are open, you can be fairly certain you’ll have a good amount of holiday customers, regardless of Covid-19. Customer safety is critical, but it’s not the only reason you should prepare for crowds this season.
Providing an efficient in-store experience will do wonders for your business. Customers who are impressed by short wait times and a well-managed store are more likely to return and recommend you to their friends.
Be sure to have enough trained staff on hand and procedures in place to cater to every customer’s needs in a Covid-safe manner. You may need to hire some seasonal employees to help the place run smoothly.
Take Care of Employees
Whether they’re full-time employees or temporary hires, you can’t pull off a successful holiday season without workers. It’s no secret that retail is a difficult industry to work in, and the challenges are compounded by pandemic-stressed shoppers and the general holiday rush.
Taking care of your employees will motivate them to power through. Give them the tools they need to serve customers well. Allow for break times even when you’re slammed. Finally, prepare a nice Christmas bonus for your hard-working staff when the wrapping paper settles.
Focus on Salesmanship
You can’t rely solely on marketing campaigns to get your holiday sales rolling. Even this year, you’ll have customers walk through the doors who are just exploring during their holiday shopping jaunt. To get your slice of their holiday spending, you need to get these customers to buy.
Train your employees in salesmanship. Work on identifying needs that can lead consumers to products in your store and encourage upselling. Also, consider the layout of your store. Where can you place attention-grabbing signs or great-for-anyone gifts that will tempt customers to buy?
Backload Your Sales Period
Many shoppers get irked by seeing Christmas decor and hearing holiday standards before they’ve even finished off the last of the Halloween candy. The way to really get your fair share of holiday spending is to extend your sales period into January.
You may have customers who prefer the brick-and-mortar experience but want to avoid crowds during high traffic times — especially this year. Extending your sales period after Christmas caters to their concerns. You’ll also attract some late spenders who want one last shot at the great deals they may have missed before.
Accept As Many Payment Options as Possible
The more flexible you can be with payment options, the more customers you can do business with. Start by making sure you can handle large amounts of cash or debit card payments and that your credit card processor is ready to rock and roll. If there are credit cards you can’t accept right now, look at expanding your options.
You can really set yourself apart by accepting emerging payment methods. Mobile wallets, apps like PayPal and Venmo, and even virtual currency are options that consumers might want to use this holiday season. Try to enable as many payment options as possible and make your capabilities known.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, even for busy retailers. Hang the tinsel (physically or virtually) and work on that holiday cheer. You’ll feel a lot better after the busy season passes if you’ve embraced these tips and cut yourself a satisfying portion of the holiday sales pie.