The holiday outlook for retailers is merry and bright: The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3% and 4.8% over 2017, while Deloitte predicts growth of 5% to 5.6% compared to last year. What’s more, 88% of consumers in a survey by Natural Insight intend to shop in stores this holiday season.
Cyber Week (the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) will account for 40% of the season’s sales. But since 47% of holiday shopping will happen before December, don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to pull out all the stops.
How to Help Your Store Win the Holiday Season
Here are 14 things brick-and-mortar retailers should do to ensure a very happy holiday.
1. Get your website mobile-ready. More than two-thirds (68%) of all holiday shopping season traffic will be sourced by mobile phone, ZDNet says. Whether you sell online or not, your store’s website needs to be optimized for mobile viewing.
2. Prep your salespeople. Unavailable or unhelpful sales staff leave a lasting impression. When Natural Insight asked about “bad shopping experiences,” a large percentage of shoppers mentioned not enough sales staff, rude sales staff or sales staff with insufficient product knowledge. Educate your salespeople about your products and promotions, and make sure you have plenty of people on the floor.
3. Check your local listings. Review the information in your local search listings (such as Google My Business) to make sure it’s complete and current; add special holiday hours to your listing if appropriate.
4. Enable mobile payments. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of consumers say they would use mobile payment in-store this holiday season, up 6% over 2017. Mobile payments can help capture impulse shoppers by speeding up the purchase process.
5. Think social. This holiday season, social networks are projected to drive 5% of retail traffic, ZDNet reports, with Instagram as a major force. Use social media advertising to enhance your reach to new customers with similar demographic or geographic profiles to your current customers.
6. Decorate. Brick-and-mortar shopping provides emotional benefits different from online shopping; for instance, 42% of consumers shop in-store for the holiday ambiance. Create atmosphere in your store with festive holiday décor, music, scents, refreshments and events.
7. Demonstrate. The top reason for shopping in-store during the holidays is to see products in person (75%). Be sure you have plenty of stock on hand and display models of products customers want to touch, feel or test before they buy.
8. Get organized. If your target customers are aged 18-29 or above 60, be especially diligent when organizing your store: Over half of shoppers in these age groups say not being able to find what they’re looking for is one of their biggest shopping stressors.
9. Connect your online and offline experience. Make sure the products you’re promoting in print or online advertising are well-stocked in store (or on your e-commerce site) and easy for shoppers to quickly find.
10. Calm the crowds. Crowds are the #1 source of in-store holiday shopping stress. Encourage your customers to shop early in the season to avoid the rush. Displaying ideal times to visit your store can also help shoppers plan ahead. Google’s “Popular Times” feature tracks the best times to visit for you and displays it with your Google Maps listing.
11. Offer convenience. Almost half of shoppers say not being able to find good gifts for their loved ones is a major holiday stressor. Browsing for gift ideas is one of the top 3 reasons consumers shop in-store. Help them by displaying plenty of gift ideas, like prepared gift baskets or boxes for different types of recipients (Mom, Grandpa, Teacher, Best Friend). Educate your salespeople about popular gift ideas they can suggest for different demographics.
12. Be budget-friendly. Promote gifts at a wide variety of price ranges. Finding presents within their budget is a top stressor for holiday shoppers, especially those in the 18-to-29 age group—who will make up fully half of in-store shoppers on Black Friday.
13. Promote Small Business Saturday. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a big day for small businesses: 108 million people shopped at local, independent businesses on this holiday last year. Visit the Shop Small Studio online to get free marketing and promotional materials plus ideas for how to promote Small Business Saturday in your area.
14. Create your own holiday. The holiday shopping season already includes “holidays” like Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. TotalRetail predicts this year, some retailers will promote a holiday called Treat Yourself Tuesday.
Photo via Shutterstock