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Ask the Experts: Now’s the time to finalize your holiday preparations

From the November 2016 issue.

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By Georganne Bender
By Rich Kizer
Published: December 13, 2016
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AE- Holiday Preperations
Question: I want to make sure I cover all the bases this holiday season. What do I need to do right now?


Answer:
It’s tough to think about holidays when it’s still mild outside, but it’s the perfect time to get started. The Golden Quarter starts on Oct. 1, and what you do from there until the end of the year makes a huge difference on your 2016 total sales. Here are some things to add to your to-do list:


Plan each of your holiday events and promotions.
This is not an option. You need to host at least one major and one to two minor events every week of November and December. And you need to do something to thrill shoppers on Black Friday, Nov. 25. Remember, major events bring lots of people to the store and have a far reach; minor events might be a demo day or the unveiling of a new product line. Drop us an email and we’ll send you a free copy of our ebook Jingle Bells ... Christmas Sells: Events, Promotions and Tips for the Holiday Season! It’s loaded with holiday event ideas and fully customizable templates.

Hire seasonal staff. You can teach people how to work with customers, but you can’t teach “nice,” so choose your temporary staff with care. Commit to a training schedule, and partner each new hire with a seasoned associate who can mentor them throughout their holiday employment.

Cover the basics. Take a physical inventory of your “never out” store supplies, the things that would be an absolute disaster if you ran out of on a busy Saturday. Bags and gift certificates top the list, but toilet paper is important, too.

Create your “Top 10 List of Not-to-be-Missed Holiday Gifts.” Have plenty of copies on hand and place them throughout the store. Feature the list on your website and social-media sites, in your newsletter and on bag stuffers. Make it easy for every customer to buy the perfect gift this year.

Determine how you’ll handle customer returns. Make sure that your customer-friendly return/exchange policy is clearly posted at the cash wrap and on your website. You may also want to include it in the not-        so-fine print on your holiday bag stuffers.

Set your sales floor to encourage holiday sales.
Pay particular attention to your end features and the speed-bump displays at the front of your store. Speed bumps give shoppers a taste of the wonderful products they’ll find throughout your sales floor.

Make sure you change your speed bumps once a week, whether they need it or not.
Encourage gift-card sales. Studies show that 80 percent of customers spend more than the face value of the gift card, and 40 percent of customers spend more than twice the face value of the card. Push them this holiday—you can’t lose!

Increase the number of email blasts from one or two a month to three or four a month.
Today’s customers expect extra offers during the holidays. And remember, not every email has to include a deal. Offer gift suggestions, holiday decor ideas, and more.

Work your social-media sites.
Social networking builds word of mouth, the number-one thing that brings new customers to your store. Be sure to add holiday-related hashtags to every post. Hashtags like #Christmas, #Hanukkah, #holiday, #gifts, #coupons and #Santa will help you to connect with an audience that reaches far beyond your current followers.

Take lots of notes about what worked, what didn’t and what you wish you had done differently. This will be a big help when it’s time to plan Holiday 2017. Happy selling!



Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are retail strategists, speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a Who’s Who in business. Contact: info@kizerandbender.com; 630-513-8020.
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