7 Retailers Share Their Tips for Preparing for the Holiday Season

Aja McClanahan

Contributor at Fundera
Aja McClanahan is a financial writer who blogs regularly at www.principlesofincrease.com and also writes for other online publications covering personal finance, entrepreneurship, travel and general lifestyle topics.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) holiday sales can represent 20%-30% of a retailer’s annual sales. The NRF also reports that consumers plan on spending over 3% more this year than they did last year for the holidays.

With a string of celebrations around like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, consumerism makes the holidays all the more important for U.S. businesses. In fact, the holiday sales season has recently been coined Black November, describing the early arrival of all the holiday-related sales and promotions.

preparing-for-the-holidays

With this type of activity spurring the economy’s growth in the fourth quarter of the year, it’s no wonder that retailers are pulling out all the stops, essentially preparing for the retailer’s version of the Super Bowl.

There’s the steep competition to consider along with navigating the complex terrain of heightened logistics needs during the holidays. As a retailer, you simply need more to sell more: inventory, staff, shipping materials, etc. What’s a retailer to do?

Take notes from other retailers who’ve spent all year preparing for this season. Hopefully, these ideas and tips can help boost your business for the holidays, too.

1. Learn from the Past

Ronni Wilson of So Posh Beauty digs into analytics for past trends that will direct her holiday sales approach, “I took a hard look at my analytics from last year and created a strategy. I reached out to the blogs that drove the most traffic to my site last year to be included in their gift guides for this year.”

Knowing what’s worked before and what hasn’t is key. You need to examine trends from your normal sales seasons as well as past holiday seasons. It’s a good idea to takes notes and have numbers handy so that you’re not piecemealing bits of information together from memory.

Pro tip: Create a “Holiday Sales Season” journal for keeping notes and stats around your sales and marketing activity. Keep it as a reference for future holiday marketing efforts.

2. Pay to Play

The world of internet marketing is an incredibly competitive place these days. The holidays are a time when retailers are amping up their reach and trying to get more customer attention than usual.

As a result, paid traffic might have to be part of your promotional strategy. Tamara Darnley of Darlyng & Co says paying for traffic can be a good investment because “of the ability to target customers in an extremely precise manner.” Facebook ad marketing has truly changed the advertising game due to powerful targeting capabilities.

Tamara says that works well for retailers with physical locations, too. You can also drive traffic to your store by targeting prospects in your state or by zip code through these ads.

Pro tip: Consider boosting high-performing posts on your Facebook page for as little as $5 a day to generate more traffic to your sales pages.

3. Go the Extra Mile

preparing-for-the-holidays

Terrand Smith, founder and CEO of 37 Oaks Retail Consulting, encourages her retail clients to create a well-crafted customer experience in the 2017 holiday shopping season. “Make the return and exchange process simple, and offer online ordering or in-store pickup or gift wrapping options,” she says.  

She adds that brick-and-mortar retailers have can have an advantage in this area, too: “A simple hello and a smile can go a long way during this stressful shopping season. Make your products and experience unique and the reason why they shop with you.”

Pro tip: Brainstorm budget-friendly ideas around going above and beyond for your customers this holiday season. Implement one or two things, and track the results.

4. Reach Out for Help

Brandon Chopp, digital marketing strategist at iHeart Raves, says that having enough help is crucial around this time of year: “We hire temporary employees who help out with everything from shipping out orders to answering customer service queries.”

Then, there’s also the extra help needed to customize landing pages for events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach to make sure the customer experience is smooth during times of heightened web traffic and sales.

Pro tip: Source extra help from places like Upwork or Craigslist. Start with small tasks and then move up as your hired help displays competence and helpfulness. 

5. Get in the Holiday Spirit

There’s a reason you see holiday decorations as soon as the back-to-school campaigns are done. They evoke a nostalgia that’s hard to resist for the average consumer. The sensory experience of the holidays can bring back good memories that can influence customers to purchase products.

Rekha Pada owns an online store that sells beauty products, Raeka Beauty. She says her ecommerce shop goes under a dramatic change this time of year. “We make everything more sparkly, colorful, and depict friends who are happy together,” she says. “This reflects the mood and joyous feeling everyone begins to have as it gets closer to the holidays.”

Pro tip: Spruce up your sales space whether it’s online or consists of a table in a corner. Even understated holiday decor goes a long way to show your customers you’re excited about your holiday promotions and sales.

6. Be Diligent About Scheduling Content

Online marketing is a large part of retailers’ sales strategy this season, but it can’t be willy-nilly or off the cuff. Online retailer Gorilla Socks adheres to a specific content calendar. It provides a mix of education, inspiration, and call-to-actions that drive sales during the holidays’ peak sales times.

Like many others retailers, they’ll be engaging online influencers to spread the message about their products and their support of gorilla conservation.

Pro tip: Create a content calendar of ads, emails, and social media posts that tell a story and build up to the “most wonderful time of the year.” Spend time educating your audience and building trust so that the ask (for sales) becomes much easier and converts better.

7. Look into Promotional Pricing

Brian Greenspan of Inmod, a modern furniture and decor store, says that promotional pricing is a big deal for them during the holidays. “This year we are working with all of our vendors to aggressively price items in order to save our customers more money,” he says. 

He suggests that other retailers follow suit for the best results. “Try and offer your best prices of the year during the holiday season,” he says.  

If dropping prices is scary, then you might want to consider the gift guide approach. Inmod has tried this and seen sales increase as a result. “We’ve created gift guides to make it easier for customers to purchase gifts,” Greenspan says. “The guide should be broken down by price to help people make decisions on what to buy.”

Pro tip: Choose a few items where you have pricing flexibility. Consider offering discounts or even testing different price points to create your ideal holiday pricing for promotional purposes.

***

Hopefully, these examples are helpful. Just remember, every retailer is different. So, it will come down to finding what works for your products and your target market.

Now that you have few ideas and tips for your holiday sales efforts, it’s time to get going on your strategy and make this the best sales quarter for your business possible.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Aja McClanahan

Contributor at Fundera
Aja McClanahan is a financial writer who blogs regularly at www.principlesofincrease.com and also writes for other online publications covering personal finance, entrepreneurship, travel and general lifestyle topics.

Our Picks

Ready to Grow Your Business?