Some people may dream of sugarplums, but for business owners there is only one thing that matters during the holiday season: sales. The next few months are the make or break time for many small businesses that are facing financial hardship. A great holiday season can dig your business out of debt, while a bad season can dig yourself deeper.
Last year retail sales rose 5.1 percent between November first and December 24th, and total sales topped $850 billion. The holiday months are the perfect time to get out of debt and set yourself up for a successful upcoming year. Customer purchases are definitely on the rise, but how do you make sure your small business gets a piece of the pie? It is important to be prepared to serve customers during this busy time of year and stand out from your competition. Many business owners believe that it takes money to make money, although this is true, some logical thinking may save you money on these efforts.
If you are serious about boosting your retail business’s sales, check out our five strategies for the holiday season:
- Steer Into The Curve
Your small business may not be able to compete with big box retailers when it comes to large events like Black Friday. Instead of trying to keep up with the marketing and deals, market your store as an alternative. Promote the fact that it will not be crowded or offer free beverages and snacks. Be the destination that people come to after braving through the mall or just where they wander for free coffee.
- Create Holiday Hours That Make Sense
Huge retailers extend store hours during the holidays to maximize business. You may be tempted to follow example and offer the same option to your customers. However, before spending money you don’t have on employee hours, ask your current customer base to find out if that makes sense. If staying open later doesn’t seem to appeal to your customers, make closing fluid. If there are still customers in the store, stay open until every person has been taken care of. This could save you money while also proving to your customers that you care about their needs and giving your employees some time off to shop!
- Pick a Partner
It is a challenge for one small business to compete with the large box stores, but with some help, it can be done. Reach out to other small business owners who are in your situation and partner on everything from advertising to offering deals to each other’s customers. Create a flyer showing off all of the shops you have partnered with and display it near the register.
- Sell Gift Cards
Someone coming in your store may be shopping for someone else. He or she may love your store and products but have no clue what to buy. In that case, a gift card is a perfect option. Check with your point of sale provider or your credit card processing partner to get gift cards instead of paper certificates.
- Have The Right Inventory
Every retailer has to weigh the risk of getting stuck with inventory versus not having enough in stock to sell. When you are already struggling financially, neither option is ideal. Work with your suppliers to find out which items they will have in stock all season long, and which items require ordering up front. Look at your sales from the previous year to make sure you have the right amount of stock, rather than too little or too much. You can also see what type of items sold the year before and which items did not.
- Give Back
People are full of love during the holidays and are more inclined to shop at places that give back to the community. Partner with local non-profits or charities and offer a period of time where a percent of sales will go to that partner.
The organization should promote the percentage to its members which should give you more exposure during the holidays and help you win over some long-term clientele.
- Create a Marketing Strategy
Small businesses should offer holiday promotions specific to their products and services. Once you have special loyalty offers in place, it is important to get them in front of potential customers.
Email marketing still proves to be effective with the highest conversion rate for owners that keep a robust email list. Gather customer data in store to further expand your email list.
Social Media is also a great step. Promotion is free, although you can pay to promote the ad to other potential customers. If you do not have time to market your services, have an employee take on the role or hire a marketing agency to run campaigns throughout the holiday season.
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