If it’s the busiest trading period of the year just how far in advance should you plan for it?
For the vast majority of retailers Christmas is their busiest trading period, dictating what they can spend in the coming calendar year. If you’re still planning for Christmas, here are some tips to help you
Review Christmas 2014
This may seem obvious but it’s something that needs to be done in detail rather than in bits and pieces of conversation around the counter while the store is quiet. Get as many of the staff who worked over Christmas together for a proper meeting, from management to part timers if possible, and get feedback.
Staff are one of your biggest expenses and getting the numbers on duty right is a fine balancing act. Too many and you’re wasting money, too few and you have angry customers waiting ages or going somewhere else.
The only way to plan this is to get the figures from last Christmas and analyse them, even going as far as extracting hourly sales figures to plan when your part your schedule.
This is yet another heavily analytical task where you will have to wade through reports to plan your purchasing. With more suppliers offering short orders you can take the pressure off buying everything in one hit.
Knowing who can give you short orders and the lead time on them can help capture sales as well. Someone has found the perfect gift, if only it was in blue not red, “good news, one is on order and will be here on Thursday, shall I reserve it for you?”
Recent years have developed a “who will blink first” trend with Christmas sales. Ah for the good old days where sales didn’t start until after Christmas, planning must have been simpler then. There are two areas to prepare, what the sale will look like and when it will start.
First plan what you want your sale to look like. Will you target certain items, brands, product categories or just what you have most of in stock? Or perhaps a blanket percentage off across the store. If you go for the former you obviously can’t plan the specifics of the sale as you won’t have the items yet, but you can plan how you will build your sale, making it much easier come the time you need to do it.
As for timing, well, we don’t have an answer. You can either set a date well in advance and stick to your guns or plan ahead and be ready to move when you decide based on what your customers and competitors are doing.
Take advantage of the seasonal shoppers
Christmas is one of those periods where you will get extra footfall into your store, each and every one of them is potentially a new regular, be it in store or through your website. Data is king and gathering every single piece you can will give you an edge in your marketing.
The easiest way to gather more customer information is to incentivise staff to do it. This can be on an individual level or a whole team reward, dangling the metaphorical carrot can work wonders. All you need to start with is a name and an email address so it isn’t hugely time consuming. Then decide what equals success, is it the number of new contacts added? Data on total sales like the percentage of total transactions that involved a loyalty customer? Perhaps a combination? Or it could be something else, the important thing is that it is what is successful for your business