Deck the halls! Small business owners are anticipating robust holiday sales this year, according to a new survey from American Express OPEN. Almost half of retailers (44 percent) surveyed in the latest Holiday Growth Pulse expect their sales this holiday season to surpass last year’s.
How do your expectations and plans jibe with the rest of America’s small retailers? Here’s a closer look.
2015 Holiday Sales Optimism
Overall, growth is retailers’ biggest priority. A whopping 86 percent of them, compared to 79 percent of small business owners overall, say they are focused on growth for the coming year.
However, retailers are putting a lot of eggs in the holiday basket — 54 percent believe their 2016 growth is contingent on a successful 2015 holiday sales season. With that in mind, how can you make the most of the 2015 holiday sales season? Below are three tips based on the survey results.
How to Make the Most of 2015 Holiday Sales
Start Staffing Now
Despite their anticipated sales success, 72 percent of small business owners say they won’t be adding staff this season. This could be a big mistake, as the competition among retailers is stiffer than ever. And standout service is one of the key differentiators for a small retail store.
Use scheduling software to simplify planning your staff schedules. This will make it easy to estimate whether you actually have all the workers you need. If not, tap into temporary staffing services that can get you retail workers in a jiffy.
If you are confident you don’t need extra workers, make sure your permanent staffers are fully trained in everything they need to know to give their best service for the holidays.
Get a Grip on Inventory
Maintaining appropriate inventory levels is the biggest concern for small retailers this holiday season. It was cited by 24 percent of survey respondents.
Using inventory management software that tracks your inventory in real time is a great way to stay on top of what you have in stock. To avoid out-of-stock nightmares, plan ahead by identifying multiple sources of the products you think are likely to be popular.
That way, if one vendor can’t get it to you in time, another one can. You can also work with drop shippers to ensure you have adequate inventory without having to worry about warehousing it yourself.
Plan Your Promotions
Deals and discounts are huge motivators for consumers during the holidays. However, that creates stress for small retailers. More than two out of 10 are worried about pressures to offer excessive discounts.
Avoid losing money on promotions by carefully planning the sales you will offer ahead of time, making sure you still leave adequate margins to make a profit. It’s okay to have a few loss leaders to draw customers to your store. Just make sure you’re making money elsewhere once you get them inside.
Consider using holiday promotions that encourage additional spending. For example, you could give customers $25 in “store cash” for every $100 they spend, and make it usable only for a limited time in the near future. This will get them back into your store quickly, where they’ll generally spend much more money than the value of their store cash.
By following these 2015 holiday sales tips, you’ll boost your chances of being one of the lucky small retailers to see sales rise this holiday season.