There is something special about the holidays. People from a range of backgrounds and traditions celebrate in all kinds of ways during this time of year. But what almost everyone agrees on is that it’s a great season for spending time with family and friends.
The holidays can also be a little stressful. As consumers shop retail for presents, holiday decorations, and specialty foods, the challenges that come with shopping around tons of other people move to the forefront. That’s the perfect time for a retail business to step in and make their customers’ lives easier while increasing sales in the process.
You want to be your retail customers’ very own Santa Claus. Like Rudolph with his shining nose, you want to guide their sleigh to the products they need, while providing great service. But hold on a second. Do you deserve to be compared to the big man in red?
Do you have a secret base on the North Pole? Do you employ legions of toy-making elves while treating them so well they have never even dreamt of unionizing? Have you helped out an entire island of lost toys and enabled a wayward elf to realize his dream of becoming a dentist?
Alright, so maybe those things are outside of your budget. It’s OK. There are still some great ways to make your retail business fly smoother than Donner and Blitzen this holiday season.
Consider Offering Financing
Whenever people talk about Ebenezer Scrooge they mention what a twit he was with money. Never mind that the poor old guy was literally haunted by ghosts and apparently had no friends; all anyone can remember are the dire straits he left poor Tiny Tim and his family during the season of good cheer.
It’s simple enough: money matters more than ever during the holidays. There are added expenses; whether it’s purchasing gifts, laying down the green for a sizable turkey, or paying to put some relatives up in a hotel out of sheer kindness and charity exclusively, the costs add up.
It may well be the best time of year to offer retail financing to your customers. They’re in the mood to buy, you’re in the mood to sell, and they made need an extra boost in the form of financing for a must-have purchase.
This kind of financing builds trust between buyer and seller and helps establish a customer base that will be loyal to your business for years to come. If you’re unsure of how to start down this avenue, it’s a great idea to talk to a reliable, trustworthy partner like Financing Your Way.
Increase Your Sales the Right Way
There are plenty of ways to increase your sales during the holidays, but there are a few things to bear in mind. First, no matter what your sales focus is, it’s important to remain true to your brand. You don’t want to go out too far on a limb only to have it sawed out from under you when things get back to the routine in the new year.
Stick to sales that make sense for your platform and brand focus. Make sure your marketing remains brand-appropriate and don’t go too far afield of your normal approach, especially if your business is already successful.
Second, remember that customers are looking for more than the best deal. Sure, slashed prices and flashing signs that say “Buy This Today or Regret it Forever” might be effective in some cases, but low prices are no substitute for friendly, personal service. Shopping during the holidays is a chaotic, often intimidating prospect. Providing friendly, attentive customer care will set you apart during this time of year.
Finally, make sure you find the right products to focus your sales on. Check out the latest trends in your field and see what the hot items are. As part of this strategy, be sure to reserve a few sale items for the late buyers.
Over at Social Network MD, they have all of their favorite marketing ideas laid out nicely with a couple of good quotes from their own people.
Sometimes, the best items you can offer to harried last-minute shoppers are a few delightful stocking stuffers, or gifts with broad appeal they can get for that relative they don’t know all that well but who got them something really nice last year, forcing them to respond in kind. Be there to relieve their shopping stress and they will reward you with their hard-earned dollars.
E-Commerce: A Step Ahead of Santa
Santa’s not online yet. I know it’s hard to believe, but he couldn’t seem to get any broadband providers to come out to the ol’ workshop. This gives you the upper hand. Press the advantage and dive into the world of e-commerce, an exciting, open frontier, filled with shimmering dollar signs and carts. So many carts. After all, if you sell in the real world, why not sell online?
Hold On to That ‘E’ a Moment
Before you add that ‘e’ to your ‘commerce’ you should understand the pros and cons of the online selling world. A pro would be that you can sell to customers nationally, and, indeed, internationally.
Another pro would be that online stores don’t require anyone to run the register. Ease of purchase for your customers is a great benefit, and you don’t have to devote significant labor to operating your website as compared to a physical store.
Sounds great, right? It is, but there are a few cons to be aware of. First, giving your customers a full understanding of what makes your brand unique is hard to do with an online store. There is little customer service to speak when shopping online, outside of the checkout experience.
Second, you need to ensure you have the inventory available to meet online demand and that you have the capacity to track your online sales. You don’t want to disappoint a customer by inaccurately reflecting available inventory on your site.
If you don’t want to think about inventory, dropshipping could be your thing. It’s a great way to build up your business without having to have all of that inventory – whether it’s in your house, garage, or even a storage facility. Shopify has tons of customized and optimized online shop templates to choose from plus a plethora of companies to work with for dropshipping.
Finally, e-commerce requires you to have a smoothly functioning website. It’s essential that you make sure your online platform is ready for the possibility of substantially increased holiday traffic before you jump into the e-commerce fray during the giving season.
Yeah, You Got This
OK, so that’s a lot to take in. But don’t sweat it. The reason you run a retail business is because you had a vision. A vision you are now making a reality every day, through your hard work. The continued success of your business is an incredible gift, although it might not be waiting for you under a tree.
Prepare your retail business for the holidays, tailor your sales approach to your unique brand, and ensure that your e-commerce platform matches your company’s needs and works smoothly. Before you know it, Santa will be marking your name down on the naughty list for competing with him. Not to worry; if he gives you coal you can sell it!