With September comes the end of summer holidays and that niggling ‘back to school’ feeling. For many in retail, there’s also the heavy sense of anticipation for the upcoming months; notoriously jam-packed with big-spender, big preparation holidays.
It may seem early, but for those with stock to order, marketing campaigns to plan and the busiest footfall period of the year approaching, it’s all already going on behind the scenes.
Just to drive home how big this end of the year can be for commercial small businesses, here are the four big ones on the horizon (which, of course, can vary depending on your business and customers):
- Black Friday
- New Year sales
There’s even Small Business Saturday on the first Saturday of December, plus Cyber Saturday after Black Friday, if you’re being really picky. Each occasion comes with its own unique opportunities to jump on board with the public’s desire to celebrate, splash out on presents and splurge for themselves.
There are all sorts of ways to get as much out of these holidays as possible for your small or medium retail enterprise, and by preparing as early as possible there’ll be no missed opportunities
Be in your customers’ heads
Plan ahead and work out when the best time to hit your customers with a direct email would be, or a direct mail-out if that is cost-effective.
Remember, while a last minute ‘grab-this-offer-while-you-still-can’ email might work for Black Friday and online shopping, prior contact is needed for the Christmas period when customers are on a tight deadline to get their shopping done, and possibly delivered (and don’t forget those organised November shoppers).
See what’s in your competitors’ inboxes
Another good reason to plan your email marketing early is to gauge what your competitors are doing. Make a hit-list of any comparable, particularly successful, businesses in your field and subscribe to any mailing lists they have. It’s fairly simple to whip up a quick email nowadays, so by watching what others do you may get the chance to jump on a trend that you’ve noticed is working for others in your field.Seasonal retail tip: Make a hit-list of successful businesses in your field and subscribe to their mailing lists... Click To Tweet
Don’t be the only one who doesn’t make any contact or let their customers know what they’re up to (and check out our beginner’s guide to free email marketing if you need to know where to get started).
Give your customers an extra incentive
If you don’t offer shipping in your store or business, consider making it an option. If you already do, persuade people to spend a little extra for convenience by establishing a threshold spend in return for a free perk.
Many people will look to spend a little more if it means they get something in return – 58% of people shopping online would add something extra to their basket in order to get free P&P. Threshold incentives work!
Consider selling gift cards
If you don’t already, that is. According to one survey, in 2013 gift cards were the top item on the shopping list for the majority of shoppers.
Double up on your marketing tactics by offering shoppers a discount on other purchases when they get a gift card, thus incentivising them to spread more of their shopping within your store. Gift card + threshold incentive = killer shopping combo.
It’s not just the season of giving
In a period of heightened spending, many shoppers can’t resist the temptation of splurging on a little something for themselves, as well.
Try to think of ways your business can capitalise on this – perhaps offer two-for-one deals, or buy one, get one half price or get something as a free gift. Even if these added somethings are low cost, it’ll feel like a treat for the shopper and put everyone in a better mood (something that is much appreciated in the elbow-barging shopping spree).
Make everything easier
If you’re going to brave a particularly busy period – perhaps the Christmas Eve rush, or the last-minute Halloween haul – think as your customer would think and try to make their shopping journey as easy as possible.
Perhaps offer gift wrapping at a small charge that will save your customers time and effort once they arrive home, or create bundles of items that customers can buy in bulk – a ready-made Halloween party pack with all the essentials, for example. The less barriers people face to get what they need, the easier it will be to turn browsing customers into spending customers.Seasonal retail tip: Less buying barriers means more browsers become customers... Click To Tweet
You may think that battling against the large businesses is an impossible feat, but if you use the early preparation time to get tactical for the seasonal period, you can make sure to get as much out of it as possible. Think like your customers, up your marketing game and, most importantly, keep a close eye on those calendar dates!