Thanks to Covid-19, this year’s holiday shopping season is set to look a little different. And if you don’t have a plan for conquering a rocky retail landscape this festive season, competing with big box stores and shrinking budgets can make for a not-so-merry Christmas. But not all hope is lost! With a little ingenuity, you can ensure that this year’s retail sales are some of your best yet.
Up to the challenge? Read through our five top tips to make your cash register sing:
1. Make customers feel safe
Possibly the most important requirement during the pandemic, instilling a sense of confidence in your ability to keep your customers safe while in store is paramount to your success with retail sales this holiday season. As the country anticipates an increase in active cases thanks to fear fatigue and holiday travel, in-store safety is more crucial than ever. Examine your store as a customer would: what is the first thing that they see? Do you have your COVID-19 safety protocol displayed prominently? Is there hand sanitiser in an easy-to-access area? Are staff masks or face shields looking worse for wear? Cast a critical eye over all safety measures in place and fill in the gaps where necessary. Then, broadcast your efforts on your various marketing channels, detailing the steps you’ve taken to ensure the safety of your customers while in store.
2. Give your customers more than one way to shop
If you haven’t yet, set up alternative ways for your customers to buy your products or service. (Hint: the more, the merrier.) Partner with local couriers, and set up a click and collect (or call / DM and collect if you don’t have an online store) system. Each additional shopping method is an additional revenue stream – so invest some time in making these alternatives easy and dare we say it, enjoyable for your customers to use. Then, shout your news from the rooftops! Let your customers know about the alternative shopping options available to them by running an email or social media marketing campaign that highlights your efforts. If you’re able to, consider adding an incentive (like a discount) when customers forgo the in-store experience and use another shopping method. (Chances are, the customers who want to shop in store will still do so, but shoppers who’re on the fence will convert if given a safer way of buying their Christmas loot.)
3. Invest in SEO to ensure you show up in local SERPS and Google Maps
If you don’t have a solid SEO strategy in place, now’s the time to set one up. In an age where 90% of customers conduct online research before schlepping to a store, you cannot afford to forego this vital marketing tactic. Tighter purse strings will see customers spend more time evaluating potential purchases than before, so a strong SEO strategy is more vital than ever. What’s more, a large portion of holiday shopping happens at the last minute (even in a pandemic!), so cash in on shoppers in the vicinity by ensuring that your store shows up on Google Maps. If you don’t have the budget to pay an agency to do your SEO for you, Google offers free courses that are frequently updated in line with changes in the search engine’s algorithm. And for those of you who need a little more help, SEO software provider Moz has an exhaustive array of free SEO tools and guides.
4. Refresh prominent store displays regularly
Humans are, by nature, visually-driven creatures. Turn “just looking” into retail sales by capturing attention with eye-catching window displays that beg to be explored. Best practice dictates that these be updated frequently to combat the visual complacence of shoppers who regularly frequent the area. Display your most beautiful or impressive products at the front of the store, and then group merchandise into a few key focal points to avoid overwhelming shoppers. Keep things neat and tidy, and if you can do so in a Covid-safe manner, set up displays that demonstrate your products in action. (This topic deserves an article of its own, but if you’re after additional visual merchandising tips, this free, downloadable white paper has numerous tips and tricks that will take you from newbie to expert in a couple of pages.)
5. Implement a loyalty program
It costs approximately five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. An effective, relatively low-effort means of increasing your customer retention rate is to implement a loyalty program. (It doesn’t have to be complex in order to benefit you – in fact, complicated rewards systems can sometimes put customers off. A simple point system or ‘buy x and get one free’ is often enough to secure a customer’s loyalty.
And there you have it! Whether you adopt one or all five of our tips, we hope your festive retail sales leave you and your staff with plenty to be merry about.