This week’s post is Part 1 of a multi part series on the 2017 Holiday Season. Over the next few weeks, we will feature a range of topics focused on driving sales, strategies, and trends. For Part 2 in the series, click HERE and for Part 3 in the series, click HERE
It’s HE-RE. The official kick off and holiday shopping trifecta, better known as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Approaching at the end of every November and beginning a 5 week marathon that can make or break your store for the year. Check out some key stats from last year’s Thanksgiving weekend and this year’s estimates.
Often this critical weekend is perceived to be an indicator of what is to come over the next few weeks. Will sales be strong this year? What are the key items the consumers will be fighting over? Will margins hold up or are we in for some seriously disturbing discounting? So many questions and only time will tell but you’ve got this. You’ve gone through our holiday checklist twice and prepped your store, trained your staff, and figured out your holiday marketing plan. You are primed and ready to take this monster of a weekend on! #nopressure
But wait…each of these days are massively different and they have an individual sales driving strategy that is just right for them. Preparing for this behemoth weekend, isn’t a one size fits all type scenario. Each day has a unique niche that you need to meet to fulfill and execute if you intend to maximize your sales and set yourself up for a successful December. In this week’s Insights, we examine a few critical, and exclusive, final points that need to be reviewed one last time before you head into Thanksgiving’s big weekend.
How to Drive Sales & Win: Make Strategic Decisions Early and Be Prepared for the Chaos
It’s traditionally the biggest day of retail and you are more than likely “traditionally” ready for this day. You’ve recapped last year, watched this year’s big merchandise trends, and your store is ready for action. Black Friday is one of the craziest days to manage through and your preparedness for the day is the key for maximizing your potential. There are a few final details though to make sure you do leading up to the day.
- Decision Time for Your BIG Promotion
Black Friday is notorious for big discounts. Big box retailers plan for and count on doorbusters, products with lower than average margins. They bring in the masses and drive huge sales volume, while customers make additional purchases with better margins that help the retailer’s overall numbers net out. While you may not want to take the big margin hits like a big box retailer, you should consider if a doorbuster is right for you. Doorbusters should be an item that will draw the crowds in. Is there a hot item that you bought heavy? Or items you got a bulk discount on? Consider taking a deeper discount and reduce the retail price. Don’t forget to update your merchandising strategy either. Make sure your doorbusters are easy to find, well signed, and placed strategically next to some of your higher margin items for additional sales. Just don’t forget, if you decide to go with a doorbuster, you need to be confident you can drive sales through increased traffic and not through your pricing.
- Your Store is Beyond Ready
It seems obvious but is literally that important to reiterate. Do everything you can to be prepared before things get too crazy. Get your inventory out of the back room and organize anything that you can’t get on the floor so it is ready to be pulled out quickly when you start making room (and sales).
Merchandise your store aggressively. I don’t mean overfilling your racks and tables to the point it’s unshoppable but creating full, boutiqued merchandising arrangements. Showcase your products on the floor, use your fixtures and mannequins, and give your customers ideas of how your products can be worn together to create multiple sales.
Lastly make your store easy to shop. Make sure your key items, sales drivers, margin builders etc. are all featured prominently. Triple-check your pricing and signage to ensure that it is correct, visible, and well placed.
- Marketing & Advertising is a GO!
It doesn’t get more competitive in retail than Black Friday so don’t be shy about broadcasting your store’s offerings with clarity and frequency in the weeks and days before the big day. Create a cadence sharing your products, promotions, hours, and services across every marketing channel in your arsenal, including direct mail, eblasts, social media, and in-store promotions. Share & cycle your information through your channels at different times of the day to reach your customer segments and remind them to include your store in their Black Friday shopping line up.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
How to Drive Sales and Win: Showcase what sets your store apart and impress reoccurring and new customers
Small Business Saturday continues to grow in force and importance for retailers. While it’s a busy day, it’s also a day to showcase your store, and brand. SBS is a high traffic day and you will have a mix of reoccurring customers as well as new customers browsing around your store. Let your customers know what makes you different and why they should keep coming back. This is a once a year opportunity to show your customers what makes your store special so make it count.
- Create a fantastic shopping experience
Shopping this time of year is notoriously chaotic, so create an atmosphere that reflects your store’s personality and customers will want to shop. This will vary depending on the type of store and products that you offer but it could be a sense of calm/fun/excitement etc, and should definitively align to your brand. Create ambiance throughout the day with festive music or scented candles and offer water or snacks to keep your customers content as they shop ‘til they drop in your store.
- Get Your Team Excited
Along with a fantastic shopping experience, focus on providing amazing customer service. Staff your team to the max and make sure everyone is amped for this busy day. Keep staff in the fitting rooms cleaning up, at the checkout station moving customers through the line, and on the floor circulating and helping customers. Encourage your team by creating a challenge, “Most Sales Today Wins!” to motivate them. Finally, stress the importance of being kind to every customer, even those more “challenging” personalities. Your team is a powerful reflection of your store so make sure they are clear on your expectations of customer service.
- Gift Certificates are Gold
Gift certificates are even more powerful during SMS. Aside from the obvious benefits of gift cards they also are basically free advertising. Your loyal customer purchases and gifts your store and brand, essentially recommending your store to the intended recipient. Many small businesses have recognized their benefit and even offer gift certificates at a discount during this high traffic weekend. Additionally, money spent on gift certificates promotes your local economy. For every $100 spent at a small business, approximately $70 stays within the local economy, while only $43 remains in the community when the same amount is spent at a non-locally owned business. Those are some strong considerations in favor of gift certificates and their exponential power.
How to Drive Sales & Win: Take your findings to anticipate, learn, and fine tune for maximum impact
One of the obvious benefits of Cyber Monday is its timing after Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. By observing and learning during these critical days and leveraging your findings from last year’s events, you can quickly refigure your plans as needed to maximize your Cyber Monday.
- Test Your Website for Traffic
You absolutely want to make sure your website can handle any and all traffic during this busy day. We’ve all shopped on websites that have annoyingly faltered due to high traffic and this has left quite an impression. You are walking away from sales every time a customer can’t reach your website so make sure you infrastructure can handle it. Not sure how to be sure you are web ready? Check out this resource for some tips to get you started.
You’ve gotten through Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. You’ve observed your customers, watched your sales, and studied what trended both in your store and in the market. Now take that information and realign your own strategy. Double-check that your online promotions, products, and pricing strategies reflect your store’s performance and industry trends to ensure you that your site will be competitive for the big day.
- Offer Free Shipping
You knew it was coming and it’s unavoidable. Your competitors will do it and so must you. Free shipping is an expectation of your customers on this critical day of the retail year. According to the National Retail Federation, a free shipping offer convinced 64% of holiday consumers to make a purchase last year. It is a non-negotiable if you want to remain competitive. Even if you don’t offer it regularly, make the exception for Cyber Monday.
There is so much pressure on the retail industry and expectations have never been higher. Heading into the official kick off weekend for Holiday 2017 can definitely be stressful and seem overwhelming in today’s competitive market. However with preparedness and thoughtful personalized strategies for each day you’ll sail through the Thanksgiving weekend whirlwind, maximizing your sales and setting the trend for a strong holiday season.
If this article resonated with you, I welcome you to subscribe to my e-newsletter. By doing so, you'll receive alerts for new features in my blog featuring retail trends and insights, exciting business updates, and much more. Or if, after reading this article, you conclude that you found it helpful, please feel free to share it with your network. Thanks!