4 Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd and Maximize Sales this Holiday Season
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: November 17, 2011, 7:16 am
- Updated: March 2, 2012, 3:35 pm
Holiday sales for the 2011 season are unfortunately forecasted to be “average.” That’s the word from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which anticipates only a 2.8% increase, a number far lower than last year’s 5.2% increase. That being said, the retail industry is in a better position than it was in 2008-09, and according to the NRF, merchants are optimistic that “…a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season.”
But it’s not just the retail sector that counts on the holiday season to carry them through leaner months, businesses such as restaurants, hotels, caterers and more, depend on the holiday season for the bulk of their profits.
Whatever your business, here are four tips to help you stand out and maximize your holiday sales.
Get a Jump Start Ahead of the Crowd
It’s hard to think about the holidays as early as January, but if it’s the season you depend on, then you need to start planning your holiday strategy early in the year. This doesn’t mean coming up with specific promotions yet. Instead, focus on what you need to do early on to capture your share of the holiday market when it comes. Things to consider:
- What worked well last year? Is it repeatable? What can you do differently?
- What can you do throughout the year to improve customer loyalty so that when the holidays come, your customers gravitate towards you without hesitation?
- What is your small business advantage? Every business has a unique value or proposition, what can you do to further nurture that during the year
- What differentiates you from your competition? Frame your marketing around these differentiators.
To help you explore these aspects of your business and come up with strategies that work for you read:
- 6 Tips for Creating a Customer Experience that Embodies your Unique Business Value
- How to Avoid Falling into a Price War by Focusing on Value
Stand Out over the Holidays – Become a Community-Conscious Brand
Who can resist a strong community-conscious brand in the season of family and giving?
A great way to ensure your business is at the top of your customers’ minds when the holidays arrive is to be involved in community marketing throughout the year. This could include sponsoring charity events or participating at local festivals and fairs. Select activities that fit your business and its budget. Key dates to consider include Earth Day in April, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Fall festivals, etc. If you can, host your own events – wine dinners, secret sales for loyal customers, etc. When the time comes, extend November/December holiday themes into your community marketing efforts starting with Halloween and ending with the New Year.
Develop Your Holiday Sales and Inventory Plan
Knowing what your customers will want to buy this season is the lynchpin of your holiday sales strategy and will also help you focus your operational and marketing efforts. How do you do this?
- Identify your consistent best sellers – Products that do well throughout the year are likely to be in demand during the holiday season too. Ensure you have sufficient quantities in stock.
- Anticipate holiday increases of these products – Use past performance and industry analysis to get a sense of unit volume increases and what percentage of your total sales will come from these lines.
- Add holiday lines – Whether it’s seasonal dishes on the menu or holiday-themed merchandise on the shelves. Spice up your merchandise with holiday flavor.
- Plan your holiday inventory accordingly – Inventory planning is a balancing act between meeting demand, maximizing your profits, and reducing leftovers! This is both an art and a science – use technology to capture trends, talk to your suppliers about their sense of demand this year and negotiate flexible payment and shipment options. Be sure to weigh alternate suppliers; they may be able to bail you out if your existing supplier can’t deliver.
Once the season is underway, keep an eye on inventory, track vendor deliveries, identify slow sellers and mark them down to keep inventory moving.
Get Your Holiday Marketing into Full Swing
From creative and low-cost promotional ideas to online and email marketing techniques, read my previous blog for Five Holiday Marketing Tips to Help your Small Business Stay Profitable & Top of Mind this Year!
Happy holiday selling!
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