The festive season is creeping up on us – it’ll be here before we know it. Supermarkets have been stocking mince pies and wrapping paper for some weeks now, immune as ever to the cries of “it’s too early!”.
Being an important commercial event as well as a cultural holiday, Christmas requires some preparation. For many businesses, performance over the festive season can determine whether they make a profit that year.
As the retail landscape gets more competitive, it’s crucial to get it right and plan your festive strategy sooner rather than later. Here are our top tips for the countdown to December 25.
Unless this is your first foray into running a business, the first thing to do is evaluate the data collected from previous years. This information is going to be invaluable, so start early. You want to find out:
Focus on your best products and customers to maximise your profits this Christmas. The data should tell you everything you need to know to inform your sales strategy.
If you haven’t done so already, invest in proper tracking and analysis, otherwise, the success of your future campaigns will be nothing more than guesswork.
According to a survey of Christmas spending in 2018, 65% of shoppers planned to do most of their Christmas shopping online, and this number is creeping up year-on-year.
Avoid losing these precious customers by optimising your website to give them a smooth and hassle-free experience – ideally before traffic starts to pick up. Nobody wants to deal with an outdated website that’s slow to load and hard to navigate.
Try to look at your website from an outsider’s perspective and ask yourself:
Online shoppers are, on the whole, an impatient bunch, and will look elsewhere if they find your site frustrating. A revamp for the Christmas period could be just what you need.
Social media is among the best tools you have to bolster your brand during the holiday season and it’s one of the easiest ways to reach a significant, targeted audience. Done well, it can generate phenomenal results – and there are many different options to explore.
Social media can be used to promote new products, holiday sales or gift ideas. The options are endless, but the key to success on any platform’s to make sure you’re staying active and posting new content regularly.
Promotions are still one of the best ways to get shoppers excited about buying from you. Plan out your discounts and giveaways in advance, keeping in mind that November tends to be the busiest.
People are particularly receptive to great offers during the Christmas season: even a small discount can provide undecided shoppers with an added incentive. However, it’s important to strike the right balance. Discounts of 5-20% are typical – anything much higher or lower may have the opposite effect to the one intended.
Without wanting to state the obvious, don’t forget to let people know. Use your email lists, social platforms and any other forms of advertising to get shoppers through the door or onto your website. Helpfully, it’s easy to measure the success of any given offer using discount codes.
Top tip: If you can afford to offer free delivery, do it.
You can’t sell what you don’t have. Be sure to figure out how much stock you’ll need to last the festive season.
Christmas is rarely ‘business as usual’. Some items sell out more quickly. The last thing you want is for your lack of preparation to cost you sales.
Ideally, businesses should begin forecasting their Christmas stock needs by the end of the summer, taking into account historic usage and supplier lead times. You may wish to place a slightly larger order, just to be safe.
Don’t forget that suppliers are under pressure too and are likely receiving a large number of orders from other customers who’re also preparing for the festive season. They may also have ordering deadlines that need to be factored in.
As we inch ever closer to becoming a cashless society, it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of Christmas spending now comes from card sales. Small retailers could be missing out in a big way if they're not able to offer card or contactless payments.
As such, it’s essential that business owners consider how they can best accommodate card payments over the Christmas period.
If you already have a card machine, make sure it accommodates all of the latest payment options: Apple Pay, Google Pay, contactless, etc. There are several types of card machine available, so invest in one that suits your business’ needs. We can help.
On top of that, make sure your staff know all the basics: how to process transactions, apply discounts and offer refunds.
With these practical tips, your business will soon be prepared for the coming festive season.