Preparing for a successful Christmas – 5 things you should do right now
Preparing for a successful Christmas – 5 things you should do right now. December is finally with us, the busiest month of the year for most retailers. No doubt you have already been planning for some time and will already be well prepared by now.
There’s no time to relax just yet though! These are our tips for the month of December, and you should get on to these straight away to be prepared for a successful Christmas season in retail.
Get ahead of your competitors and make the most of these final weeks before the big day.
Prepare a daily checklist
If you haven’t already done so, prepare a daily ‘countdown to Christmas’ checklist in store for each day this month, even if you don’t normally use a daily checklist.
There will be additional chores and checks over Christmas that you wouldn’t usually do, so add these alongside your usual items onto a tick list, and mark off the items as they are done. This way, you can check everything is complete at a glance, and you won’t have to put any thought into it while you are busy.
Add actions such as your opening and closing procedures, and areas of responsibility. Check stock and displays daily, and make sure you have plenty of stationery, gift bags, gift cards, till rolls, etc.
Keep your Christmas décor and signage tidy and in good condition and have someone in charge of the Christmas music.
Check your equipment is in good working order every morning, so you don’t get caught out when you are busy. Don’t forget to have someone keep an eye on your competitors, both online and locally, so you know what they are up to.
Put up a staff roster, so everyone has visibility and potential staffing issues can be spotted quickly. Take care of your team, they are your most important asset. Meet with them daily, even if it’s only briefly, to address any issues or concerns and get them motivated for the busy day ahead.
Know your inventory
We know that many retailers have had supply issues this year for various reasons, such as supplier and manufacturing issues, COVID-19 and Brexit.
Don’t get caught out in short supply – check your stock availability now. Use your EPOS back office to print off daily inventory reports and check what you have at a glance, then push and promote the stock that you have available.
Remove items from sight that are unavailable or very low stock as this causes frustration for your customers, and make sure that the tempting items, where you have plenty of availability, are most visible at the front of the store for visitors and passers-by.
Organise your storeroom and stock so that it’s tidy and accessible, to make it easy on yourself when it’s busy and fast restocking is required.
Check your system pricing and price labels to ensure they are always accurate (electronic shelf labelling makes this a much smaller task ESEL)
Review your records
Use your EPOS system to pull down your store reports and records from last year. When were your busiest times? What were your popular items? How many staff did you have on board? What worked well, and what can you do better this year?
You can use the information from your reports to create a year-on-year sales analysis. This can help refresh your memory so you can repeat the things that worked well last year.
You can also use it to learn from any mistakes, create a new strategy where things didn’t work so well, and be better prepared this time around.
Make use of promotions
Throughout the month of December, customers are focused on gift shopping and they will make purchases – all you need to do is make sure they come to you.
It’s an expensive month for consumers, so now is the time to get some promotions going – most people will be looking to get their shopping completed within a budget, and so will look for the best possible value.
Simple courtesies like a free gift-wrapping service, or a money-off voucher for future purchases can go a long way. Offer some good old-fashioned discounts, or put together some discounts for multiple purchases to encourage your customers to do more of their shopping with you.
If you have a loyalty scheme, offer some extra discounts for your loyal customers. Run a competition with prizes to make sure your business gets noticed.
Once you have decided on your promotions, get the word out there – shoppers need to know about your deals if they are to come to you!
Find the time to use your social media daily, it’s time well spent. Make sure you are represented on all the main social media channels and post your offers on each of them to reach as many of your customers as possible. If you have local social media pages for your town, don’t forget to let them know too.
If you already have a customer database, send an email or e-leaflet outlining your offers. Make sure that your staff are aware of what’s on it, and have a little friendly staff competition to get them on board and push your promotions in store.
Make sure that your in-store deals are visible from your windows with point-of-sale material and signage, or emblazon your windows with offers and colours to grab the attention of passers-by.
If you have a webshop or website, get your promotions on there and make sure it’s looking festive!
Have your webshop in order
Now that December is here, many shoppers are fully focused on Christmas. There is still plenty of time to shop online, and a reliable, user-friendly webshop and delivery service will be invaluable over the coming weeks.
This is particularly important with COVID-19 still very much a concern to many people. Consumers have become accustomed to the convenience of shopping from home, and a large number of shoppers will remain happier to avoid packed cities and shopping centres over the festive period
Make sure that your webshop is up to date, remove items that are unavailable or mark them out of stock. Mention your popular items that have limited remaining stock to avoid disappointments, and get shoppers purchasing early.
If you can, offer free delivery in time for Christmas, or at the very least free delivery with a minimum purchase. Delivery charges are proven to be one of the main reasons people abandon their online shop, and many of your multinational competitors will be offering this, so don’t lose out.
If you don’t already have your webshop in place, it’s not too late! Advances in technology mean that any bricks and mortar store can also be set up with a 24/7 webshop facility, and this can be arranged in a very short space of time.
Make use of your online facilities to offer the very best service to your customers, while ensuring you are not missing out to the competition.
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About the author:
Susan McGuire has been with Retail Solutions for over 6 years, and during that time has had roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!