December 22, 2017

20 Simple Tips for Boosting Retail Sales This Holiday Season


Are you doing everything you can to maximize your holiday retail sales? You should be.

According to consumer reports, total retail sales are expected to top $1 trillion between the months of November and January. Last year, total retail sales for the holiday season climbed 3.6 percent.

The stakes are high and there is a lot of money just waiting to be made if you are in the business of retail. That’s why you should do everything you can to make sure that you’re not leaving any money on the table and making the most of the holiday shopping rush this year.

Of course, not all retail businesses are the same. Some rely more on actual store visits while others tend to focus on online shopping, for example. And while there is no single, perfect approach to retail sales that can help each and every small business maximize its profits during the holiday season, there are always going to be tried and tested approaches that if implemented, really can’t steer you in the wrong direction.

Here are 20 verified and surefire tips that should be able to help every single retail store boost sales and have a very successful holiday season.

retail sales

Use Holiday Decorations to Stand Out

The holidays are not exactly the time to get conservative about the look of your store. You want to stand out and you want everyone who walks within 100 feet of your store to notice you! Going with the traditional green and red color scheme might not be the best solution, however. You know that everybody’s going to be doing that, so why not do something different?

If your store or business already has a recognizable color scheme, stick with it and accentuate it. Use more lighting in and around your store so that it’s more visible both during the day and at night. Put some stands outside, advertise some of your most popular products, go crazy on the window display – do anything you can think to make your store more appealing and intriguing visually. Don’t hold back and let your creativity run wild.

Use Holiday Sales Signage

In this day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in advanced marketing techniques while forgetting to put effort into the grassroots, tried and tested advertising methods that continue to work wonders. Signs for example. Yes, signs. According to surveys, 50 percent of new customers learn about new small businesses thanks to signs that are located on the premises.

Make sure that your store signs are attractive and easily noticed. Put stands and banners outside of your business to get people to notice you. Get yourself to the print shop and start making flyers, stickers, and decals to help spread the word about your business.

As a small business, you need to be aware of the fact that local consumers are going to be your bread and butter, especially in the early stages. The best way to get people interested in your business locally is to make sure that they know about you. And the best way to do that is to get your name and logo to appear everywhere you can within your community.

Don’t Neglect Social Media

Social media and social networks make it incredibly easy to attract customers to your business. You can use Facebook to target exactly the demographic you want to attract, and best of all, running ads on Facebook these days is neither very difficult nor expensive.

Social media is also the perfect platform for engaging and interacting with your customers in order to build strong customer relationships, brand awareness, and brand loyalty. Creating video content, giveaways, contests and other promotional activities that have been proven to work well on social media is easier and cheaper than ever – all it takes is creativity. Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels makes it easy for you to not only interact and attract customers, it also gives you the opportunity to build your brand and show potential customers what you’re all about through clever and creative content such as photos, videos, etc.

Focus on Customer Service

We know that the holiday shopping season can be stressful for you and your employees, but it can be equally taxing on your customers. The lines are long at the register, the stores are crowded and things can get tense for both the business and the buyer. That’s why you need to make sure that you and your employees are ready to provide the best customer service possible during this time of the year.

If you’re offering a great shopping experience to your customers, you have a better chance of converting them into regular customers and an excellent chance of getting them to recommend your business to their friends and family.

Make sure that your staff members are cordial, knowledgeable and polite, whether it’s in-store, online or on the phone. Putting in the extra effort to offer exemplary customer service over the holiday season will no doubt pay dividends for you into the new year and beyond.

Consider Offering Delivery Services

People who go out to shop during the holiday season tend to visit more than one store during the same trip. Sometimes it gets hard for people to carry around tons of bags through numerous stores. Why not offer delivery options for them so that they don’t have to lug around whatever they buy from you?

Giving your customers the convenient option of delivery makes the decision to buy from you that much easier because they can purchase anything they want and know that they don’t have to carry that item around – it’s going to be delivered right to their doorstep.

Setting up delivery options will certainly require a bigger budget and more staff, but it’s definitely worth considering since it can benefit both your online and in-store sales.

Make Your Popular Items Easy to Find

If you know your business and your customers, then you probably already have a very good idea of which items are going to be most popular over the holiday season. Make sure that those products are easy to find. Place them very close to the entrance of your store, put up signs, make them impossible to miss.

Another good idea is to put some items that are both popular and cheap right by the door. According to consumer psychology, once people commit to buying one item at your store, there is a good chance that they will buy more. Showing them your cheaper items first makes it easier for customers to take the leap and put something in their shopping bags right away.

Be Aware of Your Retail Sales Inventory

There’s nothing worse than running out of inventory in the midst of the busy holiday season. Obviously, the worst thing about it is not being able to make the sale. Secondly, you’re ruining your credibility as a business if you are advertising something that you don’t have in stock.

If a customer enters your business with the intent of buying a specific product and finds out that it isn’t available, there’s a good chance that you’ve lost that customer for good. A good rule of thumb is to have at least four times the number of products that you would have during the offseason.

Not only should your back room be stocked, your in-store displays need to be fully loaded as well. Studies have found that having a limited product quantity on display and poorly organized shelves can have negative effects on consumer purchases.

Appeal to Emotions

Many times, especially during the holiday season, messages that appeal to the customer’s emotions are much more effective than so-called “rational messages” about sales and discounts.

The holidays are a time for people to reflect and to think about their family and friends. That’s why one of the best emotions to appeal to during this season is nostalgia. Research has shown that when people are feeling nostalgic, they tend to worry less about spending money and are willing to spend more.

Play to their emotions and try to evoke childhood memories by playing older music and using pop culture references that remind customers of “the good ol’ days of youth.”

holiday season

Educate Your Staff

As a manager and leader, one of your greatest priorities is to make sure that all of your salespeople know your products inside and out. Make sure that you develop some type of employee training system that can help you to educate staff about what you’re selling and why your customers should buy these items.

Having a system that’s going to help you make the training process easier is important because you’re probably going to be hiring seasonal employees who need to be educated quickly and effectively. Not only is it important for your staff to know what they are selling, make sure that they understand why someone would want to buy these products. Demonstrate the features and benefits of your products and make sure that your sales staff understand the needs of your customers.

Upsell Whenever Possible

One of the best tips when it comes to upselling techniques that actually work in retail is to make sure that you put a lot of thought into product pairing ahead of time. Your employees should be aware of which products can be logically grouped together so that they can effectively upsell when they see that a customer has already picked something up and is still perusing your store aisles.

Another good tactic for upselling is recommending more expensive, high-end counterparts for a product that they have already chosen to purchase. For example, if you already know they want to buy a television, why not take a shot and make them a pitch to convince them that spending a bit more for a really fancy, state-of-the-art television?

Keep Hiring More People

You can never have too many quality employees at your disposal during the holiday season. Retail giants Target are hiring 100,000 holiday workers this year. Having enough people on hand during the holiday rush is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to customer satisfaction – you don’t want anyone to have to wait to be served.

The hiring of seasonal employees is something that you should never stop thinking about or working on. One of the best methods for quickly getting quality seasonal workers is asking for referrals from your regular staff members. Good employees will recommend people that they know they can trust and work with, which makes it much easier for you to find the good ones and avoid hiring potentially problematic seasonal workers.

Appeal to the Senses

As mentioned earlier, appealing to emotions such as “nostalgia” works very well when it comes to making it easier for people to decide to spend their money at your store. But appealing to their senses can be just as effective as appealing to their emotions.

Making your store and merchandise look appealing visually is an obvious necessity, but there are more, less obvious ways to use the senses to drive sales.

Playing the right kind of music in your retail store can definitely influence whether and how much people are going to spend in your store. “Music, Mood, and Marketing” by Gordon C. Bruner II gives many examples of the psychological effects that music can have on buyers. For example, high-end retail stores that sell luxury items tend to play classical music or jazz in order to set a “classier” mood for buyers.

But hearing is not the only sense that you can take advantage of when it comes to getting people to buy your products. If you are selling products related to cooking, like ovens, pots or pans, you could make your store smell of something delicious like pie in order to get customers to buy.

Don’t forget about the sense of touch. You should always invite your customers to get familiar with your products by touching them. Make sure that your displays facilitate product interaction. Try to tailor your visual merchandising plan towards making it very inviting for your customers to take the products into their hands and get a good look at them.

According to a CalTech study, customers will pay more for items that they are able to see and touch. The study claims that the longer customers interact with a product, the greater the chances are that they will be willing to spend more money on them.

Focus on Your Floor Plan

Your store might look fantastic and very inviting from the outside, but that’s not going to help you make sales if the inside of your retail store is a mess. People like shopping in stores that are easy to shop in. They don’t like narrow aisles and having to push and shove to get to your products. They want to be able to easily find what they need and clearly see what you are selling. First, make sure that your store is logically organized and group items that make sense together.

Use signage here as well to easily let your customers know which part of your store they need to go to in order to find what they need. Focus on making it easy for people to shop at your store by making sure that there is enough space in between products and that people have enough room to approach certain products, stay for a while in that section and interact with the products.

retail stores

Offer Free Gift Wrapping

This is another awesome benefit you can offer if you have enough people to make it a reality. Convenience is a huge selling point during the holiday season and customers always appreciate it when you are willing to do some of the work for them.

It’s also not a bad idea to pre-wrap some of your most popular items either. Not only do wrapped gifts make great props for making your store look more festive, they can also influence your customers to buy those items simply for the fact that they won’t have to wrap them by themselves when they get home.

Collect Customer Data

With the greater influx of customers now than during any other time of the year, the holiday season is the perfect time to make sure you round up as much customer data as possible. Find creative ways to capture names, phone numbers, email and home addresses from your customers in order to get them to come back and turn them into regular shoppers. The more you talk to customers and the better your communication with them is, the more likely they are to return.

Don’t just look at getting their personal contact information either, collect as many types of different data as possible. Keep track of buying trends and make a note of which products are most popular with your clientele. See which products are not selling as well as you had hoped or anticipated so that you can go back to the drawing board and devise plans for improving those sales.

Don’t forget to create customer surveys as well in order to gauge their happiness and enable yourself to continue improving your offer and the way you run your business in order to meet the expectations and demands of your most loyal buyers.

Team Up with Other Retail Stores

A great local marketing tip that you can never go wrong with is teaming up with other local retailers who offer products and services that are complementary to yours. Showing unity with other local businesses is a great way to show local customers that you are an integral part of the community.

Plus, thinking up great promotional ideas that you can leverage with other local businesses to get more people into both your doors and theirs can’t hurt your bottom line. Do the research to find complementary businesses in your community and then get creative and think up some great promotional ideas that both you and they will benefit from both during the holiday season and in the long run.

Put Together a Strong Loyalty Program

Creating great customer loyalty programs can not only help you make more money, it can also help you to build healthy and lasting relationships between your brand and your customers.

A 2017 survey confirmed that more than 80 percent of customers buy more products from businesses who offer a loyalty program to which they belong. Loyalty programs make customers feel wanted, special and generally happier to shop at your store.

While there are many great things you can do when putting together a loyalty program, there is one important rule of thumb that should never be forgotten: Make sure that the loyalty program rewards are easy to obtain! The easier your loyalty programs are to obtain, the greater participation you’ll see and the happier your best customers will be.

Support a Charity This Holiday Season

The holiday season represents the perfect time of the year to give back to your community by supporting a local charity. While donating money to a cause is always good, team efforts are always better. Find a cause that you and your entire team can help out and be sure to document the event as well.

Your customers will have a greater appreciation for you and the difference your business is making in their community and you’ll probably attract new customers as well as a result of your philanthropic efforts. Not only that, but your employees will also feel a sense of pride that they are working for a company that truly cares about its community, which is something that can also help to build a positive workplace culture and improve your retention rates.

Be Mindful of the Post-Holiday Rush

The holiday rush doesn’t end with Christmas. Make sure that you continue working hard all the way into mid-January to make the most of the success that you’ve achieved during the holiday season.

Post-holiday sales are a great way to get rid some of the extra inventory that might be left over and you’re going to need a focused team if you want to clear your shelves. Also, there will undoubtedly be returns and things of that nature to deal with, so you need to make sure that the quality of your customer service does not wane during this period.

Obviously, you and your staff members will already be tired from the holiday rush, but toughing it out and staying focused for the next couple of weeks of the new year will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on your customers.

Show Your Appreciation

Don’t forget to say thanks to your best customers – the people who make it all possible for you and your business! If you have a mailing list of your best and most loyal customers (which you obviously should), take the time to send them personal “thank you notes.”

Whether you’re sending small gifts, coupons or simply taking the time to let them know that you are thankful for them, a small token of appreciation can go a long way for your business and your ability to not only maintain but also build your base of loyal and satisfied customers.