Your Holiday Success Is in the Cards

Your Holiday Success Is in the Cards


OK, it’s only October and we don’t think your customers want to be hit with Christmas songs and nutcrackers just yet when they walk into the front door of your stores, but planning for the holiday selling season has surely begun in earnest.

Retail analyst Lauren Sosik thinks the rough economic climate actually has consumers planning early, as most are still working on some very tight budgets in 2011. “Since many people are realizing they’ll be spending a bit less for Christmas this year, they are planning early exactly what to purchase. Many of the statistics we’re seeing are telling us that about 40% of holiday shoppers will have made up their mind about big-ticket purchases by the end of September,” she said.

While the in-store planning process begins early, many retailers don’t start pushing holiday shopping until early November, explained Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation. But now retailers are trying to avoid what happened in 2009 when holiday sales declined for the first time since the NRF began tracking them in the early 1990s. While 2010 showed a modest uptick, it was hardly cause for celebration.

“Retailers had far more inventory than they needed in 2009, so they were forced to discount heavily and in some cases give items away with a purchase,” Davis added.
With those thoughts in mind, it’s time to play a little blackjack as retail marketing maven Doug Fleener has provided us with “21 Tips to Brighten the Holiday Selling Season” for retailers.

                              21 Holiday Selling Tips for Retailers

1. Send all of your customers a personalized Christmas card with either a picture of the store or the staff. You need to do this now!

2. Send your top customers a gift card or gift certificate wrapped in an attractive box. Give higher amounts to your best customers. If your staff is good, when your customers come in to spend their gift cards they will end up making purchases for far more than the face value of the card.

3. E-mail your customers and tell them about the top 20 photo gift items available in your store this season. Include a printable wish list for them to use either as a shopping list for others or to give to someone else.

4. Put the same list into a press release and send it to the local paper, radio station, etc.

5. Run one-day sales on the slowest days of the week throughout the fourth quarter.

6. Give a gift card with purchases over a certain amount. The card will inevitably result in a sale that will reduce the overall cost to you.

7. Drop small thank-you cards in customer’s shopping bags with their purchases but don’t let them see you do it. You can either have the staff fill them out in advance with the words “Thank You” and their name, or have a seasonal person fill them out without signing a name. While it may not be practical for most of you to do this on all of your sales, you can definitely do this for the large sales.

8. Hire a musician to play Christmas music in the store during peak times. The live performance will differentiate your store and keep the customer there longer. The longer they shop, the longer your opportunity to sell them more.

9. Post your top 20 gifts on a large sign in the store and then assign each product on the list with the corresponding number. Include on the product sign why it is a unique gift and who would enjoy receiving it. Are you thinking you don’t have time to do these sorts of ideas? If it adds to your overall sales then why wouldn’t you make the time? Read on!

10. Remind your staff to keep showing additional accessory products until the customer says he/she is done. Retailers miss many sales during the holiday because they’re too quick to ring the customer up.

11. Fifteen percent of all purchases made during the holiday are not given as gifts but are for the person shopping. Ask all of your customers, “And how about treating yourself to something today?”

12. Bundle products. One thing you’ll learn with bundling is that you’ll always sell more when you tell the customer how much the price was on the second one versus stating it as a percentage of savings. Don’t make the customer do the math, always tell them the price and how much they are saving.

13. Set some daily stretch goals with prizes for your staff if the goal is hit. Stock up on things like gift cards from Starbucks, Target, etc., and award them to the staff for making goal. Keep the staff focused on sales one day at a time.

14. Be extremely methodical about what impulse products you put at the counter. First, pick an item with the right price point. If you put too expensive an item at the counter it won’t sell, and if the item is too inexpensive it will sell but add little to your overall sales. Make sure the item is a smaller accessory or photo merchandise item that is unique and something the customer will want to pick up. Have a few of the impulse items gift wrapped so the customer sees how simple it is to give that extra gift. And consider bundle pricing with your impulse items.

15. Have the staff dressed seasonally. Consider Santa hats, red or green aprons or sweaters, or anything else that helps the staff appear more festive.

16. Put a big sign on the backdoor that reminds your staff to smile. It is pretty easy to let the smile droop after being on your feet for eight hours and working with crowds of customers.

17. Create “Best Gift For” signs. First pick out a top seller, or a product you want to be a top seller, that is under $40. Next to that product put a sign that reads “Best Gift for under $40.” Now do the same for $50, $75, $100, etc. Do the same for different people. How about a “Best Gift for Your Hairdresser,” or maybe a “Best Gift for the Babysitter”?

18. Create a daily “Hot Buy.” It gives the staff something to tell the customer about and it might help you sell a product that either isn’t selling well or is a hot seller that you want to get hotter. Remember, the special doesn’t always have to be a discount.

19. Give out candy canes and other goodies with each purchase or to all customers.

20. Invite your top customers in for an early morning event that includes gifts, refreshments and special pricing. Have the staff call the customers on the phone and invite them to bring their friends. Keep the event going after the doors open so those customers who come into the store feel special as well.

21. Keep having fun. Fun sells and makes working and shopping in your store a wonderful and enjoyable holiday experience. Isn’t that what it is all about?
Check out for more from Doug.