The crisp feel of fall is in the air and pumpkin spice is everywhere. Know what that means? The holiday season is right around the corner and it is time to get your small business ready for the busiest and often most profitable time of the year.
In 2016, U.S. holiday retail sales rose 4.7 percent and this trend is likely to continue in 2017 with many purchases driven more by price and convenience than brand loyalty. This makes it important that small businesses be top of mind for shoppers during the early consideration phase before peak shopping even begins. This becomes even more important when you consider the fact that consumers shopped less frequently, yet purchased more each trip last holiday season.
Also consider that shoppers have the holidays in mind long before the first snow. The holiday season starts ahead of Black Friday, with more than half of holiday shoppers starting to research and plan their gifts in October – or earlier – before they start committing to actual purchases.
If you don’t already have a strong holiday marketing plan in place, there is still time to position yourself for success, but you must prepare now.
Do you want more holiday sales? Get more customers into your store!
Here are a few suggestions to increase store traffic during the entire holiday season:
Have a sale
Everyone is having a sale right? That is because it is what customers expect and are looking for this time of year. Be unique in your timing or with your offers to stand out.
- Have at least one item on drastic sale. Maybe a different item each day for a set time period.
- Discounts are more flexible, and can be offered on a more broad selection of merchandise.
- Promote a BOGO offer such as “buy a gift for a friend, get a gift for yourself”. Customers like to treat themselves this time of year too.
- Pair up slow-moving items with complementary products and repackage as a special buy to get your slow movers out the door.
Hold an event
Give shoppers a reason to be in your store and shop. Be sure the event ties in with the products and services you provide and has a strong benefit to your customer.
- Get the customers involved! Hold a “hands on” event such as a holiday decorations clinic, cooking demonstration or holiday crafts for kids.
- Host a giving tree and make note of the requested items that are available in your store.
- Send invitations to those on your customer list to a secret sale or customer appreciation night.
- Host a Holiday open house with special appearances by Santa or his elves. Consider a discount or special gift for those who attend wearing the traditional “ugly” sweater.
Participate in your town’s holiday events
Many small towns host tree lighting ceremonies or holiday parades designed to get people out and downtown. Be a part of the fun!
- Stay open during the event, even if it is after typical business hours.
- Offer free food and drink and a warm place to rest to those who stop by.
- Use your social media channels to share the schedule or details of the event including where to park and suggestions for meals and other activities in the area.
- Volunteer your time to help plan or staff the event – encourage your employees to as well. Wear clothing that identifies your business.
- Consider a paid or in-kind sponsorship or other advertising opportunity tied to the event.
- If applicable, offer to sell tickets at your location.
Team up with other businesses
- Partner with your neighboring stores for a common themed event.
- Hand out punch cards and encourage customers to get them stamped at each business for the chance to win a prize.
- Hire a Santa and give kids the chance for a photo opp. You don’t even need to hire a photographer – let folks take their own!
Offer something extra
Prepare to provide great customer service and take care of weary shoppers.
- Beautiful window displays catch the attention of those walking by and draw them in.
- Offer and promote services such as gift wrapping, personal shopping assistance, or layaway.
- Have a selection of suggestions and pre-wrapped gifts for the most common recipients (teachers, moms, dads, baby, etc).
- Consider offering chair massage and free food or drink for shoppers.
If you want more traffic in your store, let people know about it! Be creative with your advertising and be sure to get the word out about your sales, special events, and extra services.
- Consider all appropriate avenues including social media, email, direct mail, newspapers.
- Send personal invitations to your customer list for events or to encourage them just to stop by.
- Post helpful tips and information on your social channels to keep you top of mind.
- “Redecorate” your social media channels and website with a holiday theme and keep them up to date with information on your holiday happenings.
Bonus Tip: Gift cards rule!
Don’t underestimate the power of gift cards! Appeal to last-minute shoppers and benefit from an invaluable source of new revenue. The average gift card user ends up spending an extra 20 percent beyond the value of the card, reports GiftCardGranny.com.
Be sure you have appropriate staff and that they are ready for the additional traffic and knowledgeable about your products, services, sale items, and events. Plan ahead for big shopping days such as Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Be ready and welcome last minute shoppers! 90% of shoppers still have at least a few things on their list to buy as of December 1st.
Contact TMM today and let us help you prepare for a successful holiday season!
(Sources: CJ Affiliate’s 2017 Holiday Intelligence Report; National Retail Federation 2017 Holiday Playbook, 2015 Consumer Spending Survey)