It’s official… the holiday season is upon us! While it’s easy to get consumed with your to-do list and overlook holiday planning, seasonal festivities are rich with opportunities to connect with new and old customers alike while also building your retail visibility. Between Small Business Saturday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – which are among the biggest shopping days of the year — ‘tis the season to celebrate your store, your shoppers and the experiences that consumers look forward to during this festive season.
To help jumpstart your retail plans for the holidays, here are 10 ways to get retail ready.
1. Create a Countdown Calendar Leading Up to Specific Days
Beginning ten days prior to Small Business Saturday, which takes place annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, create a countdown leading up to November 25th to help get your customers excited to shop small and support this nationally recognized shopping tradition. Through social media, email marketing and in-store promotions, you can easily capture customer attention through this countdown calendar. Plus, don’t overlook the opportunity to create another countdown beginning December 1st leading up to the big day… customers may even begin to depend on your updates to help get their shopping done. Bonus tip? Share a gift idea with every countdown update you post, as well.
2. Offer Pre-Wrapped Gifts Available for Quick Purchases
Let’s face it – there is a lot to do during the holiday season and your customers are no exception to this reality. Keeping this in mind, pre-wrap some of your top selling items so that your customers can easily grab, pay and go when they don’t have time to shop more leisurely in your store. They’ll appreciate the convenience and you’ll appreciate the quick sales! It’s a winning duo.
3. Register at ShopSmall.com to Get on the Small Business Saturday Map
When American Express founded Small Business Saturday seven years ago, they did so with the intention to help bring attention to the value of supporting locally owned businesses. Fast forward to today and this attention generated over $15 billion spent on Small Business Saturday in 2016 alone. Want to be among the merchants gaining retail attention this upcoming Small Business Saturday? Register your store at ShopSmall.com.
4. Host a Friends & Family Event
The people that represent your store can deliver more than just strong customer support to your business. They can also deliver new customers and sales. To help do this during the upcoming holiday season, encourage them to invite their own friends and family to shop your store with either a special friends & family discount or a special shopping event… or both. Make it an experience they’re proud to share with others and in return, enjoy more sales for your store.
5. Offer Festive Food Throughout the Season
Warm cookies, seasonal cider, melted marshmallows over freshly brewed hot chocolate. The ideas are endless on how you can incorporate festive food and drinks into your holiday strategy. Possibly you save these goodies for Saturdays only between now and the holidays or select a few specific days where you invite customers to mix and mingle over tasty bites and shopping. Whatever works best for your store, just be sure you save some for Santa!
6. Share New Shipment Updates on Snapchat and Instagram
As much as we all talk about building an online community, we rarely get down to the bare-bone basics about what type of holiday content to share from your store. The good news is this… every shipment of holiday inventory is an opportunity to promote your new products and your store by simply sharing quick yet dynamic video clips. Whether you’re opening recently arrived boxes of inventory on Boomerang via Instagram or toasting with store employees after a successful Small Business Saturday on SnapChat, get it on video and share it with your core audience.
7. Create a Holiday Pop-Up in a Neighboring Store
Nothing makes an impact as strong as the thrill of “one time only.” Partner up with a retailer in a town near you that sells a slightly different product to a similar audience to bring your store inventory to a brand new audience with a one-day holiday pop-up event. Invite this same merchant to do the same in your store one day. This trade-off is a fun and festive way to meet new customers, engage existing ones and strengthen holiday sales
8. Host a Twitter Chat to Reach Your Niche
There’s no time like the present to drum up attention for your store, as well as aim to strengthen overall visibility for Small Business Saturday and the importance of shopping small this holiday season. To reach a new audience of local retailers, connect with existing customers and encourage other local businesses to support Small Business Saturday, consider hosting a local Twitter chat. Invite guests to use the #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags, as well as incorporate your own store handles and other local handles to get more folks engaged.
9. Create a Winter Wonderland Experience
Who needs an excuse to bust out the glitter and mistletoe? November and December are the perfect time of year to create standout, in-store experiences with shimmering holiday decor. For extra points, decorate in a way that caters to your unique niche. While western-wear companies may want to dress Frosty and Santa in cowboy get-ups, for instance, teen outfitters might opt for a decorative selfie station with reindeer antlers and a red Rudolf nose. Whatever your store’s specialty, the holidays are an opportunity to get creative and spark conversations. Need more help? Check out this step-by-step guide to holiday merchandising essentials here.
10. Have a VIP Sale to Celebrate Small Businesses
Use this holiday season to give back to your customers and your community by hosting a VIP sale for some of your favorite heavy-hitters. Get together with a few other like-minded yet non-competitive small business owners to create a VIP sale where you each invite a select number of your best customers to enjoy an additional ten percent discount for one night only. This is a great way to network with other local businesses and to connect with big-spending potential customers in your community, as well.
Finally… remember that while the holidays may only last a short period of time, the memories and experiences you offer your customers can last well beyond the holiday season. It’s these types of experiences that help to strengthen customer loyalty and build healthy businesses all year round – which is a gift you can gift yourself if you plan now to make this your best holiday season yet!