With the first hints of the holiday season already popping up in stores alongside Halloween candy, the “best time of year” for retailers is fast approaching.
Already a $630 billion revenue-generator, the holidays account for 20% of annual retail sales, and the National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales to increase another 3.6% this season. Taking a page from our Retailers’ Guide to Surviving the Holidays (download here), here’s your checklist of essential must-dos before the first holiday-themed songs start playing on the radio.
1. Review Your Sales Goals — Then Review Them Again.
Like most savvy retailers, you probably outlined your initial sales goals months ago. (You can’t achieve goals you haven’t set yet.) As you head into November, look again at both last year’s numbers and your sales over the last three quarters to assess how much you can grow this year.
Your sales goal will determine how much (more) inventory you order, what types of products you plan to carry, and what your marketing plan will look like as the prime holiday season hits.
Did you know…
The official holiday season isn’t the only lucrative time of the year! Halloween Spending to Reach $8.4 Billion – Highest in Survey History
2. Reconnect With Your Trade Show Vendor Contacts.
Those crucial vendor relationships you made at the last ASD Market Week will now come in handy as you need refills, product ideas, and sometimes even holiday miracles to meet customer demand. Take some time to reconnect with your industry contacts before the height of the hectic holiday season. You’ll be glad you made the time.
Want to learn more about margins and fill your shop or site with in-demand, high-margin products? Get your free ticket here to the next ASD Market Week in Las Vegas – a B2B merchandise trade show and free retail education conference in one!
3. Build Your Email Marketing List (and Check It Twice).
How strong is your e-mail list?
As we mention in our guide, e-mail from a retailer was the #1 way consumers reached shoppers for the last two consecutive years (source: NRF), with 24% of shoppers visiting e-commerce sites from e-mail. (E-mail also drove in-store visits, too.) Every e-mail you send is an opportunity to build new members by encouraging your readers to share content. Add a sign-up sheet to your cash register to capture more customers, and train your staff to warmly ask for contact information as guests check out. (Customers are more likely to respond patiently if you ask before Halloween, rather than Thanksgiving.)
Insider Pro Tip: Did you know you can deliver Facebook ads about your sales and special offers to Facebook profiles that match the emails you’re collecting?
4. Review Your Product Wish List.
Before you solidify your holiday orders (or reorders), take some time to identify this year’s must-have trends — the products that will get holiday shoppers scrambling to your door.
Check some of our “it” products from the last show.
5. Don’t Forget the Stocking Stuffers.
Although having cool and trendy products will drive traffic to your door, it’s the high-margin merchandise that will make your season bright as the holidays roll into the New Year. For a very merry holiday season, keep in mind: high margins and plenty of product variety.
Did you know…
You may not be too late for private label! You can create private label products quicker than you think. Take your great ideas and turn them into extra sales in three easy steps: find a niche, source your product, and customize your packaging.
“Thanks to a new boom in customization tools, you can create, order, and distribute one-of-a-kind products easily, affordably, and — most importantly — quickly. All you need is a computer.” – Katharyne Shelton, E-Commerce Marketing Expert
6. Start Visualizing.
In the retail holiday calendar, fall is about merchandising. Start thinking about the atmosphere you’d like for the holiday season, and invest the time now create the perfect display. (This goes for e-commerce retailers, too!). Think about a new look for your site or a holiday landing page to put shoppers in a festive spirit and a buying mood.
7. Review Your Policies.
As the hectic holiday shopping months approach, determining your policies on gift wrapping, returns, shipping, and other common questions will help your staff remain calm, cool, and collected during the holidays — which allows for more profit-making opportunities for your business. “Don’t ignore the fact that just because you can’t compete directly with store policies offered by big box stores, you should not have any at all,” advises retail expert Nicole Reyhle. “Instead, identify what makes sense for your unique business and promote your policies with confidence.”
If you have checked off each task to this point, heading into November and December you’ll have inventory on the way, private label plans in progress, policies in place, and a festive shopper-friendly atmosphere. Download the Retailers’ Guide to Surviving the Holidays to learn when to staff up, how to drive foot traffic to your store or site, and whether or not Black Friday sales will help — or hinder — your revenues. You’ll also learn how to keep the holiday revenues coming even after the New Year, and when to start planning for 2017. (Here’s a hint: you may want to start planning now!)
Feeling a little behind on the holidays? Make planning ahead a habit. Get your free ticket here to ASD Market Week, a B2B trade event featuring the largest variety of consumer goods in 19+ categories. There are also daily workshops and seminars from industry experts, as ASD Market Week is also a Retailer Education Conference.