The holiday season is arguably the busiest time of the year for retailers. Planning ahead and going the extra mile to make the most out of it can make the difference between a good season and a great season. Here are a few tips on how to make this year the most profitable one yet.
1) Find out what your customers want
Check out social media sites to see what’s trending. Pinterest is a fantastic resource to discover what people are looking for. Track your followers to see what they’re pinning. Get creative! Create a holiday-themed board and ask your followers to add the items on their wish list and gift list. If you don’t have an account, check the followers of your competitors (and get on creating that account!)
2) Make sure your online listings are up-to-date
Your store should already be listed in local search directories, but if it’s not, make sure to register it. People are always on the go during the holidays and being able to go online to check your store hours, phone number and driving directions is crucial to getting customers.
3) Plan a marketing campaign and maintain a calendar
A huge mistake retailers make is starting to plan last minute or recycling ideas from past seasons. It might be easier that way, but it won’t help you increase your customers. Think about new ideas you can use for marketing and set up a calendar to mark your dates. Work backwards from the due date so you can see how far in advance you need to start. This will help you avoid last-minute scrambling around.
4) Make comfort a priority
If you make your customers comfortable, you’ll have a higher chance of keeping them from walking out. Add chairs and seating areas wherever you can. Huge lineups at the cash or for the dressing rooms can get tedious. You can even try creating a waiting area with refreshments. People like to shop with others and if they have a place to sit, they’re likely to complain less and it’ll reduce the pressure on the shopper to look around quickly.
5) Learn from last year’s holiday season
Review everything that happened last year that affected your store. What problems did you have? What did you have the most success with? What promotions brought in the most sales? This will help you narrow down what you should concentrate on for this holiday season.
Find out what’s hot in your industry. You can talk to your vendors and customers or research your industry’s publications and websites to get insight on what’s popular this year. You want to make sure your business is providing what consumers want and make your product or service stand out.
2) Stock up on your inventory.
The last thing you need is to run out on some of your best-selling products. It’s important that you get the inventory you need before the holiday rush starts because there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the quantities you want later on.
3) Got enough staff?
Don’t wait till the last minute to hire seasonal help. It might not be difficult to find people looking for a job, but it’s not always easy to find the right people. Customer service is extremely important during the holiday rush and you want to hire people who are efficient and enthusiastic about your business.
4) Give attention to your displays.
Your front display is the first impression customers will have, so make it a good one. Replace or repair any lights or signs that aren’t functioning properly. Also, plan how you want to decorate for the holidays. Well thought-out decorations can attract more customers.
5) Have a Plan B.
Things don’t always go smoothly and having a back-up plan is necessary to avoid complications. Ask yourself what could go wrong and prepare for it. For instance, what if someone you hired doesn’t show up? Make sure you have other equally-qualified candidates on file.
6) Make time for your personal life.
The holidays can be a stressful time for business owners and it can negatively affect your personal relationships. Don’t neglect your personal life and you will find that you can run your business better and have less to worry about.
If you think online reputation only matters for big brands, think again. The best form of advertising is word of mouth. Well, word of mouth is now digital which means reviews. In fact, 85% of customers check reviews before buying. Try these 4 tips to increase your positive online reviews!
1) Improve your customer service
It’s a well-known fact that customer service can make or break a business. Online reviews are no exception to that. Studies show that 72% of customers cite non-helpful employees as the #1 reason for bad customer service experience. The takeaway? Make sure you hire the right employees and that communication is clear so that you don’t frustrate your customers.
2) Consider asking for reviews
Note that I said reviews, not good reviews. The point is not to solicit them but to get the customer to share their opinion of your business. Don’t be pushy – after their purchase, simply let them know they can leave an online review of their experience. Let your customers know that their input is highly valued and taken seriously. If your customers are mainly under 30, you should simply make your online presence known since they’re likely used to sharing their experiences online.
3) Make it as easy as possible
The majority of customers aren’t going to go out of their way to search for ways to leave you a review. That’s why you need to make sure it’s an extremely clear and simple process. For example, put the URL on your receipts or reference it on cards you give out. This will vary based on the places where customers can leave reviews, such as your website, social media sites or review sites. If it’s on your website, make sure it’s relatively straight-forward and noticeable.
4) Deal with negative reviews
Don’t ignore them, don’t get defensive and certainly don’t insult them back. The essential thing here is to evaluate the problem and try to resolve it. If it was warranted, apologize to the customer, thank them and remedy the problem. You will find that 95% of unhappy customers will come back if you resolve the problem quickly. Keep in mind that it’s really all about numbers. The more reviews you get, the more likely you’ll have bad reviews. Some people will always complain, even if your business offers the best services or products. So your main goal is to have a lot more positive reviews than you have bad ones.
Your business should be listed on at least one review site. Some of the more popular ones are Yelp, Google Local and Foursquare. At the end of the day, the best way to get good reviews is to offer a service or product that is so good, people can’t help but tell others about it.