Retail is tough – especially over the past two years – but recent research shows that consumer confidence has returned to pre-pandemic levels (according to recent PWC research) which is great news for retailers.
However, media coverage of the ongoing freight crisis, fuel shortages and the upward creep of inflation have already affected consumer confidence. And it’s likely that once the positivity of the Christmas period is over, many shoppers will be tightening their belts.
So making the most of the Christmas months is vital for your retail business. To help, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tactics to help you maximise your sales this Christmas season.
Let’s get into it:
Hire seasonal staff
Good retail staff are a rare commodity and they have been made all the more precious by the pandemic. Many retailers are reporting that their furloughed staff used the break to retrain in other areas and have left the sector.
Now is the time to focus on your shop floor team:
- Recruitment: Start your recruitment processes for seasonal staff now and ensure gaps in your existing team are covered
- Analyse and optimise: Analyse your sales figures by team member, talk to your team and look for patterns to highlight areas of strength and weakness. Do they struggle in a certain product category, do they relate better to a certain segment of your shop visitors?
- Training: there’s still time to focus on your staff training ahead of the seasonal rush. Spend one to one time with weaker team members, create a buddy system with top-performing staff and give them the support they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
- Incentivise: Your team will be particularly motivated to earn extra money in the pre-Christmas period, so consider increasing or providing additional incentives to encourage improvements on specific metrics.
Expert Tip: Adding a competitive element to a Christmas sales incentive can be a fun and cost-effective way to incentivise your team. A special cash bonus for the top-performing salesperson or the team member who sells more of your highest ticket price item is a good idea. Just make sure the competition is fair (perhaps offer two rewards based on hours on the shop floor) and keep it fun.
This will work best at this time of year if the reward is cold hard cash, paid out immediately before Christmas. Abstract prizes such as days off, experience-based rewards or free stock are usually not as immediate or engaging for retail staff.
Know your stock
Over the last 18 months, many retailers launched online stores to allow their business to continue through lockdowns. Unfortunately, few had an EPOS system that managed their inventory in real-time on both their physical and online shops (- and those that did pay thousands for it).
For many, the lack of real-time inventory reconciliation from their EPOS and e-commerce stores led to confusion about stock locations, lost sales and disappointed customers.
Real-time inventory management was one of the founding principles of the AirPOS system and as we’ve expanded to become a true omnichannel EPOS tool, we’ve kept that at the heart of what we do.
We have launched our free Shopify integration which will seamlessly sync your online and offline stock into one unified inventory. No more running two separate stock books, no more ring-fencing goods and no more disappointed customers.
Hit the link if you’d like to read more about our new Shopify integration.
Customer loyalty – gift Cards
The importance of selling gift cards cannot be overstated at Christmas. Especially if you work in fashion retail – the option of a gift card for a loved one’s favourite store removes a key barrier to purchase – not knowing your loved one’s exact size.
Gift cards can also be beneficial to your cash flow as you’re selling a product you haven’t incurred a significant cost for yet.
UK shoppers spend on average 35% more than the value of their gift card when redeeming and a small percentage of gift card buyers will never redeem the full value of the gift card – leaving the unspent balance as pure profit for the retailer.
A few things to consider when selling gift cards:
- Incentivise sales with bonus balances when your buyer spends over a certain level, shares their contact information, or meets another of your core objectives (an added £10 per £100 gift voucher for example)
- Create a gift card scheme that allows you to legitimately harvest contact data and contact the end-user to help build your customer database
- Pay attention to the ‘gift experience’ of your gift cards. Virtual vouchers or basic till receipts for store credit are convenient and instantaneous but are an underwhelming gift experience for the recipient. Invest in proper gift cards and package them in a beautiful box or luxe envelope as something special for your recipient to open on Christmas morning. A relatively small investment in packaging can help boost sales of these highly profitable virtual products and create a brand experience your customer will cherish.
- And of course, as with everything when you are a multichannel business – make sure your gift cards can be purchased and redeemed both online and offline.
Gift bundles & packaging
Anyone who has worked through the pre-Christmas period in retail will know the look of the lost seasonal shopper, desperately searching for gift ideas for a loved one but with no idea where to start. A friend mentioned your shop to them, so they wander in like a reindeer in the headlights and need your help.
Unfortunately at extremely busy times pre-Christmas, a member of your team might be tied up with another buyer and this lost shopper will bounce around your display counters like a pinball before exiting the shop empty-handed!
This is where an attractive display of well-planned gift bundles come in.
Gift bundles are a great way to satisfy shy self-serve customers, move sluggish stock by pairing it with high performing items and are an excellent means of maintaining your margin with a small investment in attractive packaging and display.
- Make sure to create a series of options at different price points and pitch them just above your low, medium and high average transaction values.
- The trick to the perfect gift bundle is all about increasing the perceived value of an item. Buyers will pay a premium for a curated collection of items that present a convenient “all in one” kit for a certain user (think of shaving kits for men, full-face make-up bundles and shirt and tie or tie-pin and cufflink gift boxes).
- Add a selection of attractively packaged low-cost items close to your till points. These small items are a great stocking-filler and therefore an ideal impulse purchase.
- Dedicate a junior team member to gift-wrapping during busy times
- Make the most of your multichannel capabilities and offer gift-wrapping and home delivery options, allowing you to complete your customer’s purchase and deal with the wrapping at a less busy time.
Integrate your online and offline shops
If you’re already operating across both online and offline stores, make sure to offer the best of both worlds to your customers.
- Allow your customers to buy online and store their purchases in your stockroom until they are ready to pick up close to Christmas day.
- Offer your in-store customers free home delivery (and gift wrapping) services to the destination of their choice. You’ve created the infrastructure of both sales channels – now is the time to integrate your offering and take full advantage of both.
Integrating your online and offline stores is only possible when they are both run as one business with one core inventory. If your website is on Shopify, find out how our free EPOS to Shopify integration can sync your inventory in real-time to take the stress out of multichannel stock management.
Seasonal returns policies
October is a good time to analyse your returns from the past number of years and talk to your staff about their experience of customers returning unwanted gifts.
- Make sure your seasonal returns policy is clearly displayed in-store as soon as it comes into effect
- Key your staff up to ask customers if they are shopping for a Christmas gift from October onwards, If so, let your shopper know that you can offer extended returns on purchases now. This can be the green light to closing a sale rather than hoping that this customer will return to your store closer to the peak season.
Making the most of your increased traffic
The sales and merchandising tactics above are just a few thoughts on how to get your tills ringing and maintain your margins. However, Christmas also presents an opportunity to extend the benefit of this increased footfall by building a community around your store.
Building a loyal community based on personal relationships is a key competitive advantage that independent retailers have over the big chains and their pure-play e-commerce rivals.
So ensure you do not compromise on your usual warm and welcoming in-store experience and excellent customer service at this busy time of the year. A warm welcome and attentive personal service is the best way to ensure a repeat customer.
The increase in traffic to your shop and your website is also a key opportunity to re-double your efforts to harvest customer contact information.
- Encourage sign-ups with competitions, gifts with purchase and post-season vouchering.
Expert Tip: Read this article for more ways to boost your loyalty scheme membership at your till.
For more retail tips and indispensable industry news, analysis and multichannel insights, sign-up for our mailing list. We’ll never share your information with anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any time.