Make the 2016 Holiday Shopping Season Your Best Ever 

If you are a traditional, online or hybrid retail store, the bullet point above should have been on your top ten things to do in 2016. Now that 9 months of the year are almost past, it’s time to kick your preparations into high-gear. So, what are you going to do to make 2016 end with the champagne popping?

The stats

Let’s start with some fun facts. According to Alliance Data’s Holiday in July 2016 Seasonal Whitepaper,

  1. 87% of shoppers are still very likely to purchase at stores this year.
  2. 38% of all purchases are coming from cross-channel shoppers. Shoppers who shop online and in retail stores have 30% higher lifetime value to a brand.
  3. 52% of millennials consider the option to purchase online very important, but 82% actually prefer brick and mortar.
  4. 60% of shoppers prefer to return an item to a store, at which time 70% will make additional purchases.
  5. 83% of consumers say an exceptional salesperson gives retailers a big advantage.

So which of the above statistics has given you the most pause?

Number 5 – “83% of consumers say an exceptional salesperson gives retailers a big advantage” struck me as the something we can all take care of pretty easily. We have 45 days to train employees on what we are going to focus on this holiday season and help them/us find success. Here’s what to ask:

  • First, are your employees able to talk with customers? Do they greet shoppers when they first enter your storefront?
  • Do they understand the products? Can they demonstrate their use?
  • Can they explain why the products are better than another brand?
  • Are they a passionate about the products?
  • Can they say how they use the products?

Get them in the door

I also was shocked by number 3 – “52% of millennials consider the option to purchase online very important, but 82% actually prefer brick and mortar.” Millennials, who are seemingly more inseparable from technology than the rest of us, still like to get out and go to the store? Who would have thought that? 82% of millennials, that’s who.

87% of shoppers overall are still likely to go out to retail stores this year. So what are we going to do to attract these valuable shoppers? You will have to create an experience.

  • Decorate the space to fit the season.
  • Keep some cool bottled water and other drinks handy that you can personally offer customers. Don’t put drinks in a cooler for them to take. (It’s the psychology behind receiving a gift vs. taking something).
  • Create a loyalty program to reward repeat business. Offer giveaways. Plan and promote your flash sales.

Online strategies

If you have never played with AdWords, now is the time to get your feet wet or hire a consultant to get you going. Paid search is not cheap so you have to make the most of your efforts. This starts first by tailoring your approach by defining who your target market. You have to get granular in your targeting. Simply saying, “anyone with $20 and the ability to shop in my store or online is my target” will not work. You have to build persona models that define your customers. When you have that, you will have a roadmap to what makes your clients tick and the best way to show them that your products are worth purchasing.

Boost that post! If you usually get 20 likes on a post and one gets 50 then boost that post!

Speaking of social media… Some of you get heartburn from just reading the words social media. It’s okay, take a breath. Here is a quick list that you can use to help you make the most of social media this season:

  1. Make a plan.
    1. Select a holiday theme and get that on all your banners and profiles.
    2. Adjust your posting schedule to be respectful of people’s family time. You don’t want to lose a prospect because you’re promoting your best-selling toy when they are looking for photos of family and friends, enjoying the day. That said, look at your Facebook Insights to learn the demographics of your followers and when they are most likely to engage with your social media content. Plan accordingly.
    3. Be careful using holiday metaphors. Be respectful.
  2. Don’t ignore current customers. Make sure you balance posts meant to attract new business with ones that reward current customers for their loyalty.
  3. Have a giveaway or two. Announce flash sales, limited time offers or products going fast. This creates a sense of urgency, which can generate more sales.
  4. Gently promote donations and charitable activities that your company is undertaking.
  5. Get personal. Unboxing videos are fun, how-to posts are really helpful and posting your favorite holiday pick from 1976 is downright funny. So yes, do that! Please if anything, do that!

And remember, this is the hap-hap-happiest time of the year! Right? Seriously, plan ahead now so that you can take some time to be with family and friends this year. And of course if you need help, just contact us.

Happy Holidays!