As of the beginning of November, an estimated 164.4 million consumers plan to shop during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Maximizing holiday sales is more important now than ever.
“Confidence is near an all-time high, unemployment is the lowest we’ve seen in decades and take-home wages are up. All of that is reflected in consumers’ buying plans,” says Matthew Shay, National Retail Foundation (NRF) President and CEO.
Retailers should expect to see strong demand this holiday season, and it’s critical to be prepared. In order to compete with the increasingly popular eCommerce market, brick and mortar stores need to go above and beyond the status quo this holiday season (especially on Small Business Saturday). Here are 6 ways you can increase holiday sales and capitalize on the extra money shoppers are projected to spend this year:
1. Make it an Experience
Going to the mall, or browsing the eclectic storefronts on Main Street, to shop for holiday gifts is a quintessential part of the holiday experience. Feelings of nostalgia come flooding in. In-store holiday shopping captures Christmas magic, as you can see in countless holiday movies. That’s what makes gift buying in stores so special—it’s an experience, not just an event and consumers want a personalized shopping experience that only a visit to the store can provide.
2. Equip Your Employees
One of the best things you can do to enhance the holiday shopping experience for your customers is to have knowledgeable associates. With access to product and competitor information online, many customers will have thoroughly researched what they plan to purchase before they set foot in your store. But, since you are selling the product, they expect you, and your associates, to be experts on your merchandise. Your associates may not have to know all of the tech specs, but they do need to know what you have on hand. Providing a mobile point of sale will equip your employees with the information customers want to know. Does this come in another size or color?
On the topic of employees, consider beefing up your holiday staff. Customers want individual attention and exceptional service and they don’t care about the holiday rush that’s pulling you and your staff in a million directions. Hire enough seasonal employees to help manage the busiest times of the day and days of the week. Train them to pay attention to the customers. Even if they can’t answer every question, they can find someone who does while making the shopper feel they are being taken care of.
3. Offer Small Business Saturday Promotions
Since 2010, American Express has been hosting Small Business Saturday in an effort to get consumers to support small businesses in their communities. Held on the Saturday after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday has been a great tool for SMBs to get more customers in the door during the holiday shopping season. In the years that the Small Business Saturday campaign has officially been going on, an estimated $85 billion has been spent at independent retailers and restaurants on just 8 days over the last 8 years. That’s incredible and a proven way to increase your holiday sales. American Express offers free posters for download as well as free email and social media templates to let shoppers know you are participating this year.
4. Get Active on Social Media
One of the easiest and most cost-effective strategies to get more customers in the door this holiday season is to get active on social media. Post often and consistently to let customers know what exclusive promotions and holiday sales you are offering. Leverage platforms like Instagram to post photos of your merchandise that will inspire customers to buy from you. Appeal to customers who are really into gift giving, event planning, and entertaining on Pinterest. They just overhauled their ad manager, so advertising on Pinterest is easier than ever.
Don’t just share information strictly related to what you are trying to sell. Get creative and try some seasonal social media posts on things like holiday recipes, décor, or a topical series on best gifts for moms, dads, bosses…etc. Run contests. Followers will check back in periodically to see the results or if there is a new contest running. Even better if your contests can get customers in the store to participate.
5. Employ Email
There is no better time than the holidays to put a little extra effort into your email marketing strategy. Send your subscribers exclusive information about your holiday sales and events. Offer a holiday preview sale to your existing customers and encourage them to bring a friend to the event. Offer special discounts if they refer new customers or offer coupons or special discounts strictly for email subscribers. Send out your holiday gift guide to make choosing gifts for friends and family even simpler.
6. Gift Cards are the Way to Go
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the number one gift on shoppers’ wish lists this year is gift cards and gift certificates. Since consumers are looking for that personal touch during their holiday shopping experience, they are also likely looking for a gift card to a business that will give their loved one a unique experience when they cash in their gift. Another way to get customers to purchase gift cards from your business is to offer gift card bonuses. If a customer buys a $100 gift card for a friend, offer a $10 gift card that they can spend on themselves. The great thing about gift cards is that recipients often spend 20% more in your establishment than the amount of the gift card they received.