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Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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Haul Out the Holly: It's Christmas Time on the Sales Floor!

Nine way$ to make your Christmas Merry.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (December 6, 2010)

December is the best month to be a retailer.

The store is dressed for the holidays and the shelves are brimming with wonderful product. Happy customers come in with lists, looking for the perfect gifts, and then pick up a little something extra for themselves. Sales are brisk and that's a good thing.

We're especially busy in December. One of our favorite things to do each holiday season is -- are your ready? -- shop.  Yep, we hit the streets the week before Thanksgiving and never look back until early January. We stand in the shadows and just watch customers shop. For hours at a time.  And we are always intrigued by what they do in stores and what they tell us in exit interviews. The media are interested, too. In December, reporters come at us from all directions, asking about stores and shoppers and retailing in general. A few times each December we even take a reporter shopping with us -- trying to blend in, and keep the hidden camera hidden; it's always a good time.

We also look forward to the traditional and off-the-wall things retailers do to attract shoppers and keep them in the store longer. Every retailer has a trick or two up their sleeves. We're sure that you do too, but if you haven't quite tackled that list of things to do to spin your doors this holiday season, there's still time:

1. Step outside and consider your store front. Is the customer’s first impression clean and clear of debris? Are your window displays set for Christmas, or do they look the same as they did for back-to-school? Does your window signing properly represent your brand image? And have you set the appropriate amount of holiday décor throughout the store to put customers in a shopping mood?

2. Stand just inside the front door. Customers should be immediately embraced by your store's ambiance. Your sales floor should smell like the holidays. Visit ScentAir.com and learn how to enhance the shopping experience using scent marketing. Or visit your favorite discounter and pick up a few scent diffusers in holiday fragrances; place them throughout the store – especially near the front door, so the fragrance immediately impacts customers just walking in. And if you sell candles, cross-merchandise a few on or near the checkout counters. If it smells, it sells!

Another part of your store's ambiance embrace is music. The right music can actually make customers stay in the store longer and spend more money while they’re there. Choose fun music with a good beat, especially when the store is busy. We like disco – it’s the sound of money.

3. Check your Decompression Zone -- the first 5 to 10’ just inside your store’s front door. This is where shoppers refocus and collect themselves for the shopping ahead. They will miss anything you place in the Decompression Zone, so put it to work by leaving it empty. Just beyond the Decompression Zone is where the shopping begins.

4. Set your Speed Bump displays to sell. Place Speed Bumps -- small fixtures or tables loaded with cool product -- just beyond your Decompression Zone. Speed Bumps stop busy shoppers and redirect their focus to your merchandise. Your Speed Bump displays work just like the ones in the parking lot: they make you slow down and take notice.

5. Shopping Carts and Baskets: Know why the Wal-Mart greeter offers customers a shopping cart when they walk in the front door? Because customers with carts spend 25% more than they originally intended to spend, and up to 15 minutes longer in the store.

Place carts just past the Decompression Zone. Baskets should be near the carts, and also throughout the store, so they are within reach when a customer decides she needs one. Encourage associates to watch for customers carrying product, then get them a cart ASAP. Studies show that customers stop shopping when their hands are full. If your store doesn't offer carts or baskets, then watch for customers carrying around product. They tend to stop shopping when their hands are full, so take the product from them and set it aside at the cash wrap.

6. Plan Your Impulse Zones: A big percentage of purchases are unplanned. Take advantage of this by placing Merchandise Outposts -- displays of product used to entice customers to pick up product on impulse -- throughout your store. Use Outposts as magnets to draw customers to different parts of the store, to cross-merchandise, and to display important and high profit product.

Set your End Features to sell with product customers simply have to have: great new items, hot deals, and value buys. Try to display three items or less per end feature, and use Vertical Merchandising -- product displayed in vertical rows -- as your primary display technique. Vertical Merchandising exposes customers to a greater variety of merchandise at every eye level. When shoppers see more, they tend to buy more.

Each of your Impulse Zone displays should be reset as least once a week, more often if your store is heavily shopped. This sounds like a lot of work, but it's not: simply moving items from one Impulse Zone to another makes the product look brand new to shoppers.

7. Cross-Merchandise everywhere you can. Cross-merchandising displays complementary product together, saving shoppers time by making it easy to visualize how the items will work together. Cross-merchandise items on clip-strips throughout the store and you'll encourage add-on purchases and increase your average sale. It's frustrating for customers to have to make a trip back to the store because they forgot a critical component necessary to complete a project. Cross-merchandise and you both win. Clip-strips and other cross-merchandising fixtures and accessories are available from your favorite fixture company.

8. Highlight Gift cards with carefully placed in-store signing, and encourage store associates to talk them up. Gift card sales are on the rise; that’s good because they bring customers to your store. Studies show that 80% of customers spend more than face value of the gift card, and 40% of customers spend more than twice the face value of the card. You can’t lose!

9. Encourage Impulse Buying at the Cash Wrap. Women are infamous for making purchases on impulse. That's why your cash wrap should be loaded up with product she just can’t pass up. Put the wall behind your cash wrap counter to work with a fabulous display of gift items. You may even want to set up a Merchandise Outpost within eyeball distance of the cash wrap, so customers can continue to shop while they wait in line to pay for their purchases.

We wish the strong December sales lasted all year long, but they don’t – you only have a limited amount of time to make your Golden Quarter golden. You have to take advantage of the gift-buying frenzy while you can, so take this checklist out to your sales floor and do a complete walk-thru. Note which areas to change, set your priorities and get to work. And if you need a pep talk, we’re just a telephone call away. Call at the right time and you just might end up on that hidden camera footage!


Holiday is the most important trading time for retailers to achieve high, profitable sales. Christmas -- The Golden Quarter -- usually accounts for 36% of a retailer’s annual sales and represents the highest level of profitability. Get it wrong and you can place your future at risk! KIZER & BENDER, along with their Australia’s Debra Templar, have a new book to help you reach your Holiday sales goals. It’s an instant gratification e-bBook that’s loaded with holiday strategies, tactics, tips, techniques and templates you can easily customize for your own store. Jingle Bells ... Christmas Sells! will get you through the Christmas period intact, sane and in profit. To learn more, visit http://www.JingleBellsChristmasSells.com.


Rich and Georganne will be conducting three seminars at the CHA Conference & Trade Show in Los Angeles in January. Attendees are charged $25 when they pre-register (or $50 if they register at the show), but that entitles them to attend all seminars, workshops, and special events -- for free. However, tickets are required. Register for the show and reserve your tickets at www.chashow.org.

Social Media 101: What You Need to Know to JOIN the Conversation!

Have you heard the buzz about Social Media Marketing, but you’re not really sure how to get involved? Then this hands-on seminar is for you! We’ll show you how to use Facebook and Twitter like a pro. Be sure to bring your laptop because you’re about to get connected. During Social Media 101, you will:

Set Up Your Own Facebook Account: You’ll learn the difference between a profile and a fan page, which one is right for you, how to add photos and video, plus how to use your "Wall" to market your store.

Set Up a Twitter Account: You’ll learn how to attract followers, why you need to write re-tweetable Tweets, what that “@” sign means, how to use the “#” sign to your advantage, how to add photos, and more.

You’ll learn what you need to know about who you’re “talking” to on-line, including what to say, and how and when to say it. You’ll leave this seminar with a list of social media best practices, everything you need to know to get started, a plan to follow once you return to business, and more!

BRING YOUR LAPTOP! You’ll leave this hands-on session with a Facebook and Twitter account created just for your business!

The seminar is Saturday, January 29, 3:00 pm-5:00 pm. Seminar S115, Room 408B.

Advanced Social Media Marketing

You’re up and running on Facebook, and you Tweet like a pro, but are you getting the most out of your adventures in social media? The emphasis here is on social; it’s an ongoing cocktail party: Are you saying the right things to keep followers and fans engaged? Do your profiles and fan pages do your business justice? Find out for sure! This hands-on seminar will teach you cutting-edge skills to help you master social media marketing. You’ll learn:

1. How to Create a Practical – and Easy to Manage – Social Media Strategy

2. Tips to Improve Your Facebook Fan Page

3. How to Create Tweets that Get Re-Tweeted

4. Smart Ways to Promote Your Business on Facebook and Twitter

5. What – and What Not – to Say to Encourage Customer Conversation

6. The Latest Tools Available to Help You Manage Your Social Media Accounts, and More.

Be sure to bring your computer! You’ll leave this session with practical, real-world social media tips and techniques to help you grow your business!

The seminar is Sunday, January 30, 2:00 pm-3:00 pm. Seminar S124, Room 408B.

A Week in the Life of Creative Industry Independent Retailers

Have you ever wondered how other retailers run their stores? Do they start their days bright and early with a cup of coffee and a smile? Or do they jump in with both feet just like you, running from one task to another? Welcome to the world of many hats! Manager, buyer, sales associate, accountant, social media maven, chief motivator, janitor, customer comforter, psychiatrist – you name it, you wear them all! But you’re not alone, retailers across the country operate their stores much the same as you do. Or do they?

Join Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender for an in-depth discovery of what really happens in the world of an independent retailer.You’ll go inside the day-to-day operations of three industry independents: one scrapbook, one general crafts, and one specialty craft retailer. You’ll learn their individual approaches to advertising, marketing, in-store events and promotions; how they choose vendors and product lines; how they set their sales floors; how they motivate their people; where they look for Ah Ha! ideas; how they set store policies; and more. You’ll see similarities and maybe even a few “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments.  The best part? You’ll take away ideas and inspiration from others who walk in shoes just like yours every, single day.

The seminar is Monday, January 31, Noon-1:00 pm. Seminar S133, Room 502A.


Once again Rich and Georganne will offer free, half-hour consultations during the show. The sessions are free, but require a ticket.

Saturday, Jan. 29: 11:00 am - 11:30 am C0301 ... 11:30 am - Noon C0S302.

Sunday, Jan. 30: 10:00 am - 10:30 am CO601 ... 10:30 am - 11:00 am CO602 ... 11:00 am - 11:30 am CO603 ... 11:30 - noon CO604.

Monday, Jan. 31: 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm C1201 ... 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm C1202 ... 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm C1203 ... 3:30 - 4:00 pm C1204.

K&B At the Yarn Market News Retail Conference

Rich and Geoganne will lead a seminar, "The Crackle Factor: Taking Your Business Off Auto Pilot" at the annual Retail Conference sponsored by Yarn Market News. The conference is Mar. 13-15 in Portland, OR. For info, visit www.yarnmarketnews.com.

(Note: Meetings & Conventions magazine took a survey of meeting planners asking them to name their favorite speakers/keynote presenters – and Kizer & Bender make the list, along with such luminaries as Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Mike Ditka, Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jay Leno, Colin Powell, and others. To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)

KIZER & BENDER Speaking! 

Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design

103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206, St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098
Web: www.kizerandbender.com     
Blog: www.kizerandbender.blogspot.com  
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kizerandbender   
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KIZER-BENDER/258761889930
YouTube Channel:




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