A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
Want to maximize holiday sales and
Profits? Get started now.
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (October 17, 2011)
Welcome to the Golden Quarter,
the time of year with the power to move your store from the red into
the black. Have you done your pre-holiday homework? October is the
perfect month to begin planning!
Things You Need to Do Before
the Season Begins
Hire your temporary staff. Set up a training schedule, and partner
each new hire with a seasoned associate -- a buddy -- who can mentor
them throughout their holiday employment. New associates with lots
of questions might feel uncomfortable about bugging the boss for
help, but they'll feel right at home asking their buddy.
Your buddy system will help you
set and maintain a positive store culture where both associates and
customers will thrive. Don't forget to hold a meeting with your
mentors before the new hires arrive. You will need to explain the
program, your expectations, and why you chose them.
The holiday selling season kicks off with a bang on Black Friday,
otherwise known as The Day after Thanksgiving, the one day you must
have something BIG planned for your store. First, you want to
capture first business by attracting customers to your store as
early as possible before they head off to the malls. A coupon that
entitles the customer to 50% off of any one regular priced item of
their choice has worked for plenty of retailers. This coupon is all
about choice: you choose which items are included in the sale; you
may also chose to limit the dollar amount to 50% off of any one
regular priced item of up to $50.00. The customers get to choose
what's on sale.
In order to capture that first
business, you will need to run your 50% Off Coupon event between the
hours of 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM. Offering other good deals to attract
additional customers throughout the day is also a good idea.
A Black Friday in-store event is
not an option. If you don't have anything planned for the day after
Thanksgiving, our e-book, Jingle Bells … Christmas Sells:
Events, Promotions and Tips for the Holiday Season, can help.
http://jinglebellschristmassells.com for event ideas, plus
detailed instructions and fully customizable templates.
You need to have at least one major in-store event, and two minor
in-store events planned for each week of November and December. If
you're stuck for ideas, visit our "Retail Adventures" blog at
http://www.retailadventuresblog.com or check out "It's Not Too
Late!" an article loaded with events to get your creative juices
remember, you can always call us for an impromptu brainstorming
In addition to events, you must also prepare a list of items and/or
categories of merchandise that you will promote during the
holidays. Some things to consider include: how you will advertise
this merchandise, how it will be promoted in your store, how and
where it will be displayed, and when the displays need to be set up.
And you can't do this all by yourself, so assign each associate a
promotion or two. Their close involvement will make it a better
Make time each Monday to rotate the displays and/or fixtures in the
front of your store. To do this you will need to plan how your sales
floor will look for each week of the holiday season. This is
critical if your store sees many repeat customers each month. Once
you begin your merchandise rotation, customers will begin to ask,
"Is this new?" and "When did you get this?" about items that might
have been in your store for months.
You can give your store a fresh
look by simply rotating product around your store. That small table
of photo albums and photo frames that's in the front of your store
on November 1, will look new to customers when they discover it
toward the back of the store on November 8. This is a good job to
assign to a store associate who enjoys visual merchandising.
Choose your holiday theme. Winter Wonderland? Santa’s Village?
Whatever theme you choose must be designed to put customers in the
holiday mood. In addition to store décor you must consider
associates' attire, in-store music, holiday refreshments, even when
Santa will pay a visit. Set a schedule of what needs to happen and
when, then stick to it.
Create a "Top 10 List of Not to be Missed Holiday Gifts" that are
available from your store. October is the perfect month to ask
customers for their suggestions. Make sure that all of your store
associates memorize it, and have plenty of copies on hand throughout
the store. Feature your list on your website and in your newsletter,
include it in store signing, and on bag stuffers. When you make
shopping decisions easy for your customers, they will thank you in
dollars and cents.
Stock up on your "never out" store supplies, the things that would
be a disaster if you ran out on a busy Saturday. Bags and gift
certificates top the list, but even toilet paper is important.
Create an exit strategy -- a clearance plan – for all of the
merchandise you will need to close out after the holidays. Determine
what will be marked down, how much it will be marked down, how it
will be signed, and how and where it will be displayed in the store.
Determine how you will handle those inevitable customer returns.
Post your customer-friendly return/exchange policy behind the check
out counter(s), on your website, and include it on all holiday bag
stuffers.Decide where holiday returns will be processed: at the
checkout(s) or at a separate table?
We always spend the day after
Christmas at a local mall, watching store associates handle returns.
We're always amazed that the first words out of an associate's mouth
are, "Would you like your money back?" This should not be the
automatic response in your store -- you’ll save a lot of money if
you train associates to offer an exchange or a gift card before
offering a refund.
The question associates need to
ask is, "Would you like to look around for another item or would you
prefer a gift card?" Many customers will look for something else or
take the card, but if a refund is what the customer wants, then give
it with a smile. This is also a good time of offer a coupon that
will bounce them back next week.
And finally, repair, repaint, and replace everything
on your "To Do" list now. You don’t need the hassle of fixing the
wheel on a shopping cart in December when the store is really busy.
The holiday selling season is
one of the most important trading periods of the retail year. The
impact it has on sales will vary with each retail sector, but
whichever sector you belong to, it is critical that you maximize the
sales potential of this peak festive season. The goal is to achieve
high, profitable sales. The Christmas quarter usually accounts for
36% of a retailer’s annual sales and represents the highest level of
There’s not second chance if you
get it wrong!
Jingle Bells… Christmas
Sells: Events, Promotions and Tips for the Holiday Season
The e-book by Rich and Georganne
will get you through the Christmas period intact, sane, and with
The book covers: Visual
Merchandising for Christmas … Store Layout & Decorations … Preparing
Your Store for Christmas … Making Christmas Decorations Work For You
… Decorations Do’s and Don'ts … Security Awareness … Managing
Christmas and Your Staff … Gift Cards and E-tailing … Delighting
Your Customers … Gift Suggestions … Attracting the Male Shopper …
Make it Easy and Make it Fun … Gift Wrappers and Wrapping.
There's also specific events and
& promotions: Guys Night Out … Dear Santa Letter … The 12 Days of
Christmas … 50% Off Coupon Event … Cash Register Receipt Auction …
Create Your Own Coupon Sale … Customer Appreciation Sale … Holiday
Ideas Open House … Kids Store Tour … Ladies Night Open House … Trim
The e-book also includes
numerous customizable templates. To order, visit
KIZER & BENDER Speaking!
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103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206,
St. Charles, Illinois 60174
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