Christmas comes in December, but its preparation generally starts very early for the retail industry. Parallel to Halloween and full of planning and preparation for the festive period. When Halloween ends, the shops get glittered with Christmas decorations and grand gift boxes where the entire walkway is embellishment with splendid reindeer socks, bath sets with shops opening extended hours.
If you are an owner of any retail business small shop on the high street or pop up shop, then for you, Christmas preparation would have started much earlier! A recent Facebook survey states, one in six shoppers start their Christmas shopping around September or October. They need to make sure their store is ready with every fun-filled element and necessary items that buyers need or look for.
If you have still not started your preparation, then following few tips can help you to start with and make your retail business or shop ready for rush hours of Christmas.
Learn from Past i.e. look back to last year
Experience brings an indispensable learning and valuable resource. If you were also selling or trading last year, then you would be having fair knowledge of what is required to be done this year. Last year learnings can help you to easily forecast your sales and demand. Using this year on year perimeter is a good KPI for how you are progressing, this is how the large department stores monitor progress.
With historical trade or stock records in hands, double-check your inventory levels for each day i.e. from start to last day of Christmas. Was there any particular item that got out of stock? It’s good to mark them and get the surplus inventory in stock if you think it is still prevailing.
Christmas means a huge rush in every retail store, this would also happen with you where you would have turned down a few customers or was not able to serve or offer good service levels as expected. So keeping this in mind, it’s good to hire extra team members or check out for temporary staff to serve every customer.
Re-check & Ensure Your Inventory is Well Stocked Up
Inventory management is a tedious and crucial task when you prepare your shop for Christmas or any other festival. Stocking up the items also require a good amount of capital or cash funds as an investment, which may impact your daily cash flow demands. But you can’t afford to run out of the stock for any popular or particular product as it will seriously affect your sales and shop reputation.
As you have already made the forecast as per last year’s sales performance in the previous step, so decide what items need more stock. But at the same time don’t forget to check the latest trends and consumer buying patterns, basis which you might need to re-evaluate your decision as what was popular last year might not be trendy this year.
Also ensure to stock up the inventory well before, so that you are all set to go on time for Christmas and serve those customers who like to do shopping well in advance to avoid rush time.
Check Whether There Is A Need Of Extra Staff
You got the stage ready with everything like enough products and a festive shop. With the uplift of customers you maybe still not able to serve all customers. Not having enough staff to serve your customers is nothing but a disaster. As it will move those customers to other retail shops not only this time but will also put them off to your shop for the coming years.
Managing a shop on a daily basis with few numbers as staff can be easy and good, but not during the busiest periods of sales and that too during Christmas is not a good idea. Check what was the scenario was last year and use that experience as input to decide. Also speak to your staff members who were rolling with customers on the floor, which will help you to judge if you need extra hands or not. Be realistic as getting staff is also a kind of investment, so you might not want to end up losing a major part of your profit in this. Extra staffing levels are due right uptown Christmas Eve, or longer if you are having a Christmas sale.
Do Effective Marketing Campaigning
Christmas is the only festival when customers easily ramp-up to your shop and you see healthy sales but it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do any marketing for your products. To boost sales and to maximize profits, you need an effective marketing campaign to target more customers. Let all your customers know what times your stores open over the holiday period.
You would be having a database of your customer phone numbers and email addresses; use it to send customized Christmas or themed newsletter with attractive promotions or discount details. If you have a Facebook page or Instagram account with a good following, you can run a Christmas competition to engage more people and thus easily encourage your store’s fan following.
At Christmas, you can test new marketing channels or implement new strategies that you haven’t tried yet.
Plan Early But Don’t Start Early
You can plan things in advance as it gives you the edge above other’s but it needs to be balanced. You should not launch your promotional campaigns for Christmas too early because people might not like it. If you run your promotions early they might get void as nobody gets attracted to long-term sales. Rather people get more fascinated and thrilled to short-term sales because of limited stock factors.
You can have stock ready for early retail shoppers but launch your Christmas promotions or messages after Halloween only. It will create more excitement and interest among customers.
Offer Extended Services Like Gift-Wrapping
Customers always love the extra pieces on their plate; the same is applicable in shopping too. Customers are also in rush during Christmas as too many things are there on their list. If you offer them some extended services like delivering their gift items at their door-step or wrapping of gift items in exchange for small fees, they won’t feel hesitant about paying it. It will create your positive perception among customers and give you an edge above others.
However, make sure it should not hamper your real and requisite tasks, else it will become a burden for you because if you get too much indulge in those activities then you won’t achieve the actual goal.
Remain Local & Inclusive
Christmas is all about excitement and pleasure but doesn’t forget that not everyone celebrates the same. In your locality, there may be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, and non-religious people, who are also your customers, so drive things keeping this in mind.
Arrange Additional Cash Funds
Preparation of Christmas involves a lot of time, hard work, planning, and most importantly cash funds. You not only need capital finance or cash funds for arranging stocks and other related things but you also require money to remain positive for your daily cash flow needs. So make sure you have enough in your hands to get ready for the festive season. Once Christmas is over then we start all over again with Boxing Day and the retail sales, the world of retail has changed with the likes of Black Friday and online sales, 2020 will be a challenge.
Going for unsecured flexible business loans or merchant cash advance could be a good idea, come and speak to PDQ Funding to realize your festive dreams.