Holiday shopping can be a double-edged sword for retailers; the shopping frenzy can result in huge profits, but it takes a lot of extra effort and resources to prepare for the skyrocketing demand for sales. Most shoppers are looking for unbeatable deals on electronics, appliances and media, so if your store sells greeting cards or swimming pool equipment, you may not find it worthwhile to partake in holiday sales and promotions. However, if you are planning on participating, the following guidelines are designed to help you run a smooth retail holiday season:
· Review your inventory: Study the demand trends of various items your store sells, particularly any items that are forecasted to be “hot” over the holidays. Look over the past few months of sales, and the sale histories over the past few years. Make sure your store is stocked with enough inventory to meet the increased demand of the season. Remember, empty shelves means lost sales. Order extra supplies well in advance and have your staff fill the shelves with additional inventory from the stockroom throughout the rush of the day.
· Plan staff hours: You may ask your staff if anyone would like to put in overtime and/or you may choose to hire seasonal help to plan and execute the shopping rush. Hold a training session to educate employees on how to handle the influx of shoppers and customer service concerns.
· Sales bring in customers: Shoppers are driven by deals. Competitive retailers try to one-up each other, offering limited quantities of goods with extremely reduced prices. The bigger your deals, the bigger incentive shoppers have to visit your store. Getting people in the door is a big first step since many shoppers will buy more than what initially brought them in. You may even choose to advertise free services such as gift wrapping or warranties.
· Marketing adjustments: If you’re offering sales, you need to increase your marketing efforts to promote what you have to offer, both in print and online. You may also consider temporarily adjusting your hours of operation to compete with other retailers and to accommodate shoppers. Post new hours on store doors, in marketing materials and on your business’ website.
· Website Testing: Many people want to avoid the crowds, but still want to shop the bargains safely from their home computer. Double check every link and button on your website in advance and fix any bugs that may result in reduced sales or a tarnished image of your store. Information should be up-to-date and sale items should be clearly marked. Ensure that your e-commerce warehouse is also appropriately stocked.
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