Getting ready for Christmas in retail

Published: 19/10/2020

Buckle in for our nine steps to prepping for a killer Christmas.

Stock

As every small business owner knows all too well, Christmas is a spending frenzy - in fact, last year Brits spent a staggering £26.9 billion on gifts, that’s an eye-watering average spend of £513 per person.

To get your hands on your slice of the pie you need to have enough stock to meet demand, and there’s no time like the present to start sorting yours out.

Your stock will inevitably sell out faster than usual, so it’s important you’re not left high and dry, potentially turning paying customers away (the stuff of nightmares). 

It’s not as simple as just ordering more as that could leave you with excess to shift and won’t do your cashflow any favours, instead, spend some time trying to forecast your festive sales as accurately as possible.

Top tip: a useful tool at your disposal is the data from previous Christmas’s which should go some way to informing your stock purchasing for this year.

Once you’ve crunched the numbers get in touch with your suppliers and couriers and work out their availability and when you need to order by to get your goods on time. 

Spruce up your store

Deck the halls with boughs of holly rings true here - it’s time to think about how you’ll accessorise your store. Nail it and consumers will be grabbed by your eye-catching efforts and drawn in, upping your sales.

The aim of the game is to stand out from the competition, so start off with your window displays, could you hang baubles? Wrap tinsel around your mannequins? Add lights? Fake snow? A nativity scene? These items are likely to sell out pronto, so work out what you’ll do and start shopping for it ASAP.

It’s not just outside but inside that’s important too, think about:

  • Christmas trees
  • Gift wrapping
  • Music
  • Wall displays, etc.

The more you can get your customers into the Christmas spirit the more they’re likely to spend with you. Remember the old adage, proper planning prevents p*** poor performance? Start planning for these things now and you’ll save yourself a hectic dash to the wholesaler nearer the time.

Payments

On the subject of your store, if you’ve been considering upping your payments game for a while but haven’t gotten round to it, now’s the time to make your move.

Card and contactless payments are where it’s at in 2020, with cash fast becoming a dying breed (especially with fears around the transmission risk it harbours), so if you’re not yet set up to accept these methods you could hamper your Christmas sales.

The good news is it’s super quick and simple to get the ball rolling, so if you make the leap now you’ll be ready in plenty of time for the rush.

For physical retailers card machines and EPOS till systems are typically the method of choice whereas payment gateways are online retailers’ preference. You can find out more about your options for payments here, and on the subject of online...

Prep your online presence

Your online presence is arguably more important this Christmas than ever before - COVID has had a huge impact on online shopping which is at an all-time high thanks to the crisis.

If you operate online-only this doesn’t make you exempt from sprucing up your store, but rather than baubles and fairy lights, think about:

  • Adding festive graphics
  • Changing up your colour scheme
  • Adding a Christmas touch to your logo like a cute little Santa’s hat on the end
  • Adding a gift buyers guide
  • Final shipping dates.

Even if you don’t sell via your website you still need to make an effort here - 63% of shopping begins online, with consumers checking location, average price points, and generally comparing the market.

And if you want to add online payments to your repertoire to capture consumers who’re too afraid to hit the high street this year, you’ve still got time to add a super simple payment gateway to your website if you start planning now.

Sort out staffing

Are you going to need more hands on deck to meet the increase in demand over the busy period? If so, now’s the time to start bringing new people on board so they’re trained and ready to hit the ground running when the time comes. 

It’s not uncommon for businesses - particularly those in retail - to hire temporary workers over the holiday season, so spend some time working out how many workers you’ll require, how you’ll find them and what you’ll pay them, so you know you’re covered come December.

Good to know: our EPOS till system comes with a staff management system built in so you can be sure you’re not under or overstaffed during the holidays.

If you operate online only will you need extra help dealing with the additional orders, packaging, and shipping? Again, work this out now to save yourself a headache down the line.

COVID

When the dreaded C word hit our shores back in February it’s fair to say we all thought it’d be done and dusted by Christmas, unfortunately, it now seems that won’t be the case, so you’ll have one more thing to think about this year.

Overcrowded shops and throngs of shoppers won’t be an option in 2020, so put some thought into working out how you’ll overcome this and still have a successful season.

Will you implement a queuing system outside your shop? Could you add some festive sparkle? Think about things like mulled wine scented hand sanitizer or Christmas themed face masks. 

Since you won’t be allowed as many people shopping with you at once it might be worth considering broadening your opening hours so you can still serve as many customers in a day. 

Finally, we’ve mentioned it once but we’ll say it again - consumers are wary of handling cash thanks to COVID, so offering alternative methods is a must. 

Remember: fewer consumers will be heading out for food and drink this year, so you might be able to turn the pandemic into a positive for your business if you market your goods as a ‘take-home’ alternative. 

Offers & promotions

Who doesn’t love feeling like they’ve bagged a bargain? We know we do! During Christmas it can feel like spending is getting out of hand and this is the perfect time to run special offers and promotions.

Think buy one get one free, three for the price of two, buy one get one half price, and so on, and you’ll undoubtedly boost basket sizes. 

It’s important you think about which items you’ll put on offer ahead of time so you can crunch the numbers and work out if it makes financial sense, as well as order ample stock to meet the inevitable demand for these items. 

Remember, when consumers are doing their Christmas shopping they’ll also be buying themself the odd treat too, so promotions like buy one get one free is a nifty way to elicit a little self-indulgence - ‘one for them, one for me!’.

Top tip: don’t forget about Black Friday when preparing for Christmas - you could kill two birds with one stone by working out what you’ll offer at the same time. Find out more here.

Marketing

Once you’ve spent the time and effort sorting out your stock and your shop it’s time to work out how you’ll spread the word to consumers, it could be using:

  • Emails
  • Social media
  • Website 
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Blog
  • Local paper

If you don’t already have a social media strategy, now’s the time to create one and give yourself one less thing to do once things have gone crazy. Different marketing approaches will suit different businesses in different ways, so it’s a matter of working out which one(s) is right for you and mapping out your approach.

Remember: if you plan to try and get an advert published, either online or physically, reach out to the editor ahead of time to avoid disappointment. They often map out their content well in advance. 

Product placement

Product placement can have a substantial impact on the total amount a consumer spends with you, so put some thought into yours and you’ll be onto a winner. Consider:

  • Placing complementary items near each other
  • Putting your top sellers in pride of place
  • Strategically placing stocking fillers near your point of sale to elicit impulse purchases

Will you need additional shelving or rails to accommodate your extra Christmas stock? Work this out so you’ll have plenty of time to source it. 

If you want to get your payment systems sorted ahead of the Christmas rush reach out to one of our friendly experts today!

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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