If you own a retail business and think you can relax after the holiday rush, think again. With cash a perennial gift and gift cards gaining in popularity, you’re likely to have just as many people hitting your store after Christmas seeking to spend their gift money as you did before the holidays looking for the perfect presents. Then there are the customers looking to return that not-so-perfect gift and treat themselves to something they really like.
How can you make the most of the busy post-holiday season and keep your sanity (and profits)?
How to Profit From the Post-Holiday Retail Rush
Employees may be pining for time off after the holiday rush, but make sure you’ve scheduled adequate staff to handle shoppers and returns. Consider offering employees comp time later in January, or some other type of reward, in return for taking the least desirable shifts.
Make it fun
Post-holiday shopping can get crazy but without the festive feeling of holiday gift-buying, sometimes tempers can flare. Keep the mood in your store light with music. Offer refreshments to soothe thirsty and hungry shoppers. If you can, redecorate with fresh décor that will put people in a happy mood, so they aren’t looking at holly and tinsel and feeling sad that the holidays are over.
Speed up wait times
To make the return process easier on everyone, consider setting up separate point-of-sale stations for returns or exchanges and for purchases. Nothing gets shoppers grumpier than getting in line behind someone who dumps out a whole bag of products without a receipt when they’re only waiting to buy one thing.
Engage and upsell
When customers return a purchase, always do your best to turn a return into an exchange. Your salespeople should never just accept a return, but always ask in a friendly way if the customer would like to exchange the product instead. Offer different options such as pointing out similar items in different colors or noting the special sales you have going on that could help the person get more value for their money compared to just returning the item.
If you use mobile point-of-sale technology such as card readers with smartphones or tablets, you have more options. For instance, salespeople could take returns at any point in the store, or could walk customers over to show them other items they might want to exchange their return for and then ring it up on the mobile device.
Discount, but don’t go crazy
Customers spending gift money or gift cards are often freer with their purchases than usual because it feels like “free money.” Yes, you may need to discount some items (and it’s a great way to get rid of seasonal merchandise for the New Year), but dial it back from the deals you may have offered during the holiday shopping season.
It’s OK to be selfish
With customers feeling the need to reward themselves after getting through the holidays, now is the time for your marketing messages to encourage them to be selfish. “Reward yourself,” “Treat yourself,” “Give yourself the gift you really wanted”—all of these tactics are effective for customers who have a little bit of money to burn.
Get customers into your store by reaching out via email marketing and social media. Reward customers who purchased from you over the holidays by sending them emails with special limited-time offers. Hold a contest on social media asking customers to post pictures of the best gift they got. Basically, do everything you can to remind customers you’re here and engage them with your store.
Shopping Bags image via Shutterstock
This is part of the Small Business Trends holiday article series featuring tips, advice and news about the latest holiday trends taking place in today's business world. Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more.More in: Holidays