‘Tis the season, and shoppers everywhere are preparing mentally, physically and emotionally for all the expected and unexpected events that are guaranteed to happen during the holidays. So as a retailer, that is exactly what you should be doing. Make the necessary preparations to ensure your business is equipped to handle all the expected and unexpected events of this holiday season.
Being prepared doesn’t just mean stocking your shelves and making sure your coffee maker is working properly to help you and your employees handle the long hours ahead. Times are different and so are consumers, which means it takes more effort to grab a consumer’s attention and convince them to spend their money at your business.
It used to be that merchants and marketers only needed to follow the four P’s of marketing — product, pricing, promotions and place. If you followed each of these, then you were guaranteed customers and their money. But because of technological advances, consumer behavior has changed. Technology enables shoppers to connect anytime and anywhere, so a retail store needs more than the four P’s of marketing. Sensible merchants and marketers understand that in order to be successful nowadays, one has to follow the four P’s and the four C’s — connections, choice, convenience and conversation.
Consumers want a combination of the two, and by following these four techniques, retail stores can be sure to give the shopper what they want and stay a step ahead of the competition.
Don’t Delay, Start Now
Start now — as in right now. There really is no better time than the present. Some shoppers may chuckle or roll their eyes or even scoff when they see reindeer sweatshirts and holiday decorations up before the Halloween decorations and candy are off the shelves. But don’t let them get to you because in the end, they’re going to wish they’d taken advantage of the early shopping opportunities.
The mocking consumers are a small number compared to the many who do start buying holiday gifts as early as September and October. With so many wanting a jumpstart to holiday shopping, it’s important for retailers to reach out to these early-bird shoppers through effective advertising and promotions. This includes exposing consumers to standout advertising and promotional skills online, on TV, in print and in the store. It’s also necessary to know your target audience in order to appeal to them through the medium they use most often.
Technology Is Your Friend
Some may not want to admit it, but technology controls our lives so why not use it to your advantage? Stay up-to-date with all the latest trends and gadgets consumers are using and make sure to monitor online reviews. It’s also beneficial to encourage customers to leave online reviews, just as long as they’re your happy customers who will leave positive reviews.
You should also take advantage of social media promotion. Pre-teens, teenagers, young adults and even older adults are on some form of social networking site these days. Retailers can promote deals through Facebook or Twitter, or they can share gift and decorating ideas on Pinterest because it seems 90 percent or more of females have a fashion or a home décor idea board.
It’s also vital to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. More and more consumers are doing their holiday shopping or getting ideas on what to buy and comparing prices online through their smart phones and tablets, so take the time to make sure your site is easy to navigate using a mobile device.
Customer Service Is Crucial
If you don’t hire the right kind of people to work during the holidays (or anytime, for that matter), you cannot expect to have repeat customers or positive word-of-mouth promotion. Retail stores are only successful if they hire happy, fun employees who are people persons.
The holidays are a crazy, busy time, and in the retail industry, employees are faced with all kinds of people — some of which aren’t the most pleasant to deal with. In order to keep your employees the happy, fun people you hired, do little things to reinforce exceptional customer service, even when faced with the grouchiest of shoppers:
- Make sure there’s coffee or snacks in the break room.
- Don’t make them wear ridiculous or uncomfortable holiday work uniforms.
- Be sure to hire on extra help during the holidays so the same employees aren’t working extremely long hours six or seven days a week.
If your employees are in high spirits, then that will spread to your customers and provide them with a memorable and extraordinary in-store experience.
Let The Consumer Know You Value Their Needs And Wants
A consumer wants to feel special. Your store could be the first or the last on their long list to visit, so you need to make it seem like you’re going out of your way to make their shopping experience hassle-free. Retail stores can do this by extending their hours so it’s more convenient for customers to shop on their time. You could also offer free gift wrapping, as well as free or lowered holiday shipping to appeal to your online customers.
Price is also a big factor. While it’s not expected for smaller retail stores to match extremely low holiday prices that bigger retail stores offer, it is important to be price sensitive.
By following these four simple, but necessary techniques, your retail store is well on its way to edge out your competitors and win over customers this holiday season.