It’s official; the holiday season is up and running! Retailers know that sales during the next three months can determine if they close out the year with a profit or loss. Shoppers will spend over $1 trillion between November 1 and December 2. Overall, the holiday season accounts for 20 percent of annual retail sales. For some retailers, the figure is even higher, generating 30 percent of yearly sales. In a recent report, the International Council of Shopping Centers estimates holiday spending will total $832.3 billion, an increase of 4.9 percent over last year. On average, shoppers plan to spend $683.
Start Early to Be Competitive
To get a jump on sales, many retailers are stocking their shelves with holiday merchandise even earlier than last year. Shoppers may or may not be ready to get on board. While 50 percent of shoppers begin shopping in October or earlier, 67 percent are still out braving the crowds or checking for online deals a week before Christmas. Spreading out their spending helps these bargain hunters manage money, get exclusive deals, and benefit from last-minute sales.
Be Flexible and Try Something New
The marketplace is changing rapidly. Doing what you did last year to get consumer’s attention is mostly old news. E-commerce and brick-and-mortar competitors are vying for a more significant share of the shopper’s wallet. The playing field will only get tougher for store owners who are not prepared with a plan in place that fully incorporates e-commerce. Operating a robust business online is essential for retailers who want to attract new customers, generate sales, and remain relevant.
- Ninety percent of holiday shoppers say they will
make in-store purchases
(ninety-seven percent will buy products online from retailers with physical stores)
- Sixty-one percent of e-commerce purchases are done by mobile phone
- Purchases by mobile phone anticipated to reach
$3.5 trillion by 2021
(3/4 of total e-commerce transactions)
Promote Sales and Targeted Deals
Shoppers are looking for sales during the holiday season. The more, the merrier. Retail chains and big box retailers spend millions of dollars on digital and social media ads. In 2018, Walmart paid $63 million for advertising during the holidays. However, small businesses have limited budgets and should offer shoppers deals targeted to certain product categories, themes, or specific days.
The National Retail Federation classifies the winter holiday period from November 1 through December 31. This year, plan to hold themed promotions for the 25 days from Black Friday until Christmas Eve that will offer exclusive sales or other deals. Focus on the four weekends in this short time frame, including the weekend before Christmas, since the holiday is on a Wednesday. Be prepared for a crowd since this will be one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Deliver Consistent Messaging
There are hundreds of opportunities to get your message out during the holiday season. However, it’s up to you to communicate your message effectively. It can be challenging to break through the clutter generated by the thousands of holiday messages that bombard consumers. Your campaign should include social media, digital ads, websites, in-store and exterior signage, and seasonal displays.
Keep your message simple. Avoid messages that are complicated and require customers to figure out what you are promoting or selling. Your message should be unique and memorable enough for a consumer to hear it and associate it with your store or brand.
Go All Out to Get New Customers
Loyal customers are the bread and butter of every business. They are the people you can count on to support your business throughout the year. That being said, the holidays are a great time to invite new customers to try the products and services your business offers. A recent survey indicates that 50 percent of holiday shoppers are willing to do business with retailers they haven’t tried previously. Optimizing your website and promoting your business on social media is a way to create awareness and generate sales from this new customer base.
Deliver Exceptional Customer Service
Consistently offering customers an exceptional shopping experience is the best way to make your business more profitable and create loyal customers. The businesses customers take the time to brag about online. Go the extra mile to make them feel special and resolve their problems quickly.
An article in Entrepreneur Magazine highlights a few statistics that show why businesses with poor service have difficulty keeping their doors open.
- 97 percent of customers tell others when they receive very good or excellent service
- Seventy percent would spend more money with a business with excellent service.
- Twenty-four percent will return to the same business two or more years after a pleasant experience.
- 59 percent would leave a company and try a new one to receive better service
Preparing for the holiday season is no easy task, but your effort will pay off if you make getting more holiday sales a team effort. Look at your business through the eyes of customers and seek opportunities to improve. Shop your competitors and big box stores to see how they display merchandise and promote similar products. Keep an eye on new products and trends to offer your customers the most popular merchandise, tips, and ideas. Just remember to think big.