Guest Blog from Terrand Smith at 37 Oaks Consulting:
37 Oaks is a Chicago-based commerce consulting company that works with local retailers and brands across the country. As Founder/CEO, I have decades of experience in both corporate retail headquarters and with our neighborhood retailers, so I want to share a few insights and best practices that will help you prepare and win this holiday season.
Just to level set: Why is the holiday season important to you as a local retailer? For one reason, 2019's holiday sales are projected to increase about 3.8 percent vs last year (to $1.008 Trillion). This is the first year we have broken the trillion dollar mark. With the average shopper expected to spend about $1,047, this is going to be a good year with lots of potential for you.
You will find many holiday articles and blogs that talk about the importance of marketing, advertising, email blasts, social media promotions, online security, etc. However, I want to share 5 tips we often see overlooked and/or underestimated, for 4th quarter success.
1. FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! Many of the businesses we work with end up planning their holiday strategies in early to mid-November, with 40 percent of customers beginning their holiday shopping before Halloween. And with this season potentially making upwards of 30 percent of your yearly sales, this planning timeline is a little late. But, with focus, you still have time to make a tremendous impact on your business. We first recommend identifying some of the key shopping dates between now and Christmas, and make sure you have an extremely strong plan to drive sales. Even if you are not able to do a lot throughout the entire season, you will be able to move the needle on your business at these peak dates. We recommend starting with Black Friday, the 2nd Saturday before Christmas and the Saturday before Christmas.
2. Opportunity Customer: Remember, you have a customer base that knows and loves you. This is why they shop with you! During the holidays, consider ways to reach those that are shopping FOR your core customer as well. Plot out the profile of the person that could be buying gifts for your core customer, and try a few social media campaigns or expand your current marketing plans to target them. No need for this to be very time consuming or expensive, but it's a great way to add a few additional sales to your business.
3. Services & Offerings: Making someone's life easier throughout the holiday, is a powerful marketing message in itself. What can you offer to help your customer survive the shopping frenzy? Could that be a "personal shopper" service, free shipping, gift wrapping, buy online and pick up in store, no hassle returns, etc. Especially as you get closer to December 25th, one of the top reasons customers shop where they do is because of convenience. Make sure you heavily market these services & offerings so they keep you top of mind.
4. The Value of Brick & Mortar: We often hear our local retailer's concerns with competing with online shopping... which is valid. Approximately 80 percent of all retail sales are done in brick and mortar stores. This is a big number. Customers value brick and mortar's immediacy; ability to speak to and see a customer service representative and ability to touch and feel the product. We always teach our storefront businesses to focus on the things that online cannot do as well, and make sure that is wrapped up in an overall amazing shopping experience.
5. E-commerce: Although I mentioned that we would offer the overlooked and underestimated tips for the season, I would be remiss if I did not mention e-commerce. Holiday e-commerce sales are expected to grow approximately 13 percent from last year. If you are not selling your products digitally - through social media or an online store, then there is no doubt that you are leaving money on the table. Brick and mortar represents about 80 percent of all sales, but online is growing exponentially. You need to be where your customers are.
If you are interested in learning more about holiday planning or any of the other 20 courses we offer to local retailers and brands to help them build their retail acumen, then visit 37oaks.com/university.
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