Australians are expected to spend $46.7 billion in retail stores this year in the lead up to Christmas, with analysts predicting a solid, but not spectacular, Christmas shopping season.
Many retailers spend several months preparing for the Christmas rush by upgrading systems, training staff and planning promotions. Regardless of what steps you’ve taken to get ready for the biggest retail season of the year, there are simple strategies you can implement over the next few weeks to maximise your share of that spend and create a spectacular result for your store.
Here are my top 10 tips to help you drive customer traffic, optimise conversions and boost your bottom line over the next few weeks.
- Wrapping stations – many customers find wrapping presents a chore, so offering a free wrapping service will win you friends and increase sales. Set up a table away from the register where friendly staff can wrap gifts and collect the bar codes. This reduces waiting times at the checkout while adding value for the customer. Even better, have pre-wrapped items on display for customers to grab on the go.
- Maximise stock in-store – don’t leave inventory sitting in your warehouse gathering dust. If there’s a chance it might get sold, ship it to a store. Stock moves so quickly during the Christmas season that you need to have a steady stream of stock coming in and there’s no point saving for January items you can sell today.
- Plan staffing carefully – with so many casuals swelling the ranks of staff for Christmas shopping, there’s only limited time for training, so make sure there’s always a reliable and experienced salesperson in the store. Customers can easily become frustrated or tense if staff don’t know what they’re doing and could walk out, losing you the sale. Having a stable presence in the store keeps staff calmer, gives them confidence and ensures that customers receive better service.
- Recover the store regularly – when traffic is high, it’s easy for stock and presentation to get messy and out of place, but customers are much more likely to spend time and actually make purchases in a store that is well-stocked and orderly. Dress your window display to attract attention and make sure the shelves are full and products are in the right place. Having staff moving about the store reorganising stock is also a deterrent to potential thieves so encourage staff to stay vigilant.
- Trust your software – there’s no time during busy Christmas trading to double check stock levels. With inventory moving so quickly, you need to rely on what your system is telling you and replenish regularly to keep in-store levels high.
- Ramp up your ICT resources – some of our larger customers bring in extra ICT staff over Christmas so that if any issues arise, they can be resolved quickly with minimum impact on customers or sales. Sometimes just having an expert voice on the phone can be all a staff member needs to resolve a technology issue or correct an error they have made.
- Open longer hours – increasing your opening hours in the lead up to Christmas makes it easier for customers to visit your store and gives them more time to browse your product offerings and make a purchase. And this doesn’t just work for inner-city stores – it can be just as effective in the suburbs too, as customers love the opportunity to visit before and after work or even in the wee small hours on their way home from a party.
- Capture customer details – grab every opportunity to capture your customers’ name, email address and/or mobile number. This will allow you to market to them in future, opening up the potential for repeat sales and the chance to build customer loyalty. This lets you email or text them to tell them about your Boxing Day Sale and then build insight over time into their likes and dislikes so you can tailor special offers to tempt them.
- Monitor and analyse customer traffic – understanding your traffic and conversion data allows you to optimise staffing levels and maximise sales. One of our fashion clients started tracking their customer traffic and was quickly able to increase sales by 20 per cent on Sundays after gaining greater clarity into when customers visited their store and rostering staff accordingly.
- Don’t go on sale early – your customers have a list of gifts they need to buy before Christmas so why miss the opportunity to maximise profits? Avoid the temptation to offer wholesale discounts before Boxing Day. Instead, if you want to incentivise sales, offer cross-selling or up-selling opportunities like bundle deals where you buy one item and get another one free or even three for two offers.
Your Bonus Tip: Keep things as simple as possible for your staff. Encourage them to focus on serving customers and minimise the need for reporting or unnecessary administration – use your retail software for that.
Of course, your online platform should always be consistent with your bricks and mortar approach and if stock does run low in stores because of unexpected demand, train your staff to help customers make their purchase online and have it shipped direct. By going the extra mile, you’ll cement their loyalty and open the door for future sales in the new year.
Make your Christmas season spectacular by implementing these simple and effective strategies … and watch your sales soar.
About the author:
Craig Downing is managing director of Futura Retail Solution P/L, a leading supplier of POS systems for non-food retail. He brings a no-nonsense, results-focused approach to retail and is committed to delivering exceptional outcomes for his retail clients.