Back in October I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in London. While there I could not help but connect with some city shopkeepers and gain some perspective on their Christmas strategy. I admit to being of two minds, that of being a tourist experiencing the full swing of Christmas promotions, coupled with the eye of a Retail consultant, admiring and critiquing signage, presentation, product mix, and the like. Retail has changed. Main street retailers have so much more to protect during 4th quarter than ever before. Besides currency, there is not very much that different between store owners there verses here, balancing the same successes and hurdles. The great news is that without exception, the owners I am connected with share that retail sales are up nicely over last year. So, with just a few weeks left, let’s all keep sight on ending well.
A few things to keep an eye on nearing the end:
1). Make it easy for customers to find you and buy from you
You have heard repeatedly about an Omni Channel retail strategy and how it helps to deliver a seamless shopping experience for your customer. It’s not so easy to implement and should be considered only when resources can provide dependable service. When done well it can significantly increase sales whether your customer is shopping online or in-store. Put some of these guidelines into place so may compete easily against your competition.
- Expand your social media strategy beyond posting photos and advertising discounts. Consider campaigns linked to a customer rewards program, contests and special posts timed for the weekends and evenings when most online shopping is expected.
- Organize your inventory in real time so it’s updated between online and in-store purchases.
- Give customers more shipping options. For instance, clearly outlined shipping choices, estimated delivery dates, and options for expedited shipping score points with customers. This often plays a big role in the final purchase decision.
- Offer in-store pickup if you have one or more physical locations. This can work to your advantage as your customer can purchase more.
- Have a variety of return options in place to enhance the overall shopping experience. Offer in-store returns for merchandise purchased online and include a return shipping label with online purchases.
2). Train your staff to be your greatest asset
Are you diluting your impact on your store operations and profit by acting as all things to all people, and wearing yourself out? Train, incentivize your people and step out of the way so they can do a great job for you. Involve the staff in a contest for two to four weeks to sell regular and sale merchandise and offer prizes in certain categories such as:
- Highest total sales
- Highest average sale
- Most sold items in a single sale
- Highest sales in one day (week, or month)
- Largest increase from one week to next
- Highest sales per hour
- Highest single sale
3). Keep a close eye on margins.
Don’t give away the ship! Markdowns, though necessary are not the way to thank your customers during the holiday and will not sell them on the uniqueness of your inventory. Lowering prices is no guarantee you will profit from increased sales. Instead, play up the value you provide to loyal customers by highlighting your client support and hand-holding before and after the sale is made. Be aware of those items delivering higher gross margins and include them in promotions or a gift with purchase if necessary to protect net profits.
With the upswing of volume sales during 4th Qtr it’s easy to lose sight of the bottom line. Keep these tips in mind to maximize profits not just during the holiday season but year round to avoid the year-end crunch.
Like this article and want more? Join me live in my masterclass. Discover the knowledge you need to be confident in your numbers and create a profitable store that makes you a fantastic income and a proud shop owner! Sign up now!