Retailers can expect 2.8 percent growth in holiday sales this year, down from 5.6 percent last year, according to a survey conducted by the global consultancy Kantar Retail. This sluggish sales forecast suggests that it’s more important than ever to get the most from your holiday marketing. Here are five tips for how to draw crowds.
- Step up your customer service. Holiday shoppers typically have two universal complaints: long lines and poor customer service. Your business can stand out by making exceptional customer service your top priority. For starters, this means making sure your seasonal help is adequately trained to deal with large crowds. Pay attention to how your employees treat one another, too. Research conducted by the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland shows that customers are likely to leave a business not only if they’re mistreated, but also if they see employees being unkind to other employees.
- Provide discounts or perks online. A survey by SteelHouse found that 28 percent of consumers say that they’ll do more of their Christmas shopping online this year. If you own a retail store, that means you should reach out to your tech-savvy customers via your website and social media. However, note that 31 percent of the consumers polled also said they won’t consider placing an order online unless a special discount or free shipping is offered — so plan to provide discounts or special perks online.
- Offer something for free. The key to ringing up sales is to get as many potential customers in the door as you can. One way to do this is to offer a free gift or service. For example, exhausted holiday shoppers may deeply appreciate a complimentary five-minute foot massage. Free gifts may also attract budget-minded shoppers to your store: Almost 60 percent of them say that they plan to take advantage of holiday discounts to buy non-gift items for themselves and family.
- Don’t give up too early. According to ShopperTrak, 23 million people did at least some of their Christmas shopping last year on Christmas Eve. To accommodate these last-minute shoppers, plan to have adequate staff on hand and find a way to let customers know that you’ll be open. Consider tweeting last-minute shopping deals or offering a last-chance special to Facebook fans.
- Focus on customer retention. Follow-up is crucial to getting the most from holiday marketing efforts, says Bob Phibbs, founder and CEO of the Retail Doctor. That means collecting customer contact information as stealthily as you can. Phibbs suggests offering prizes, such as a train set to be given away late on Christmas Eve, as a means to get customers emails and addresses. Then, he says, you’ll have to face the tough part and devise a strategy to use that data to turn them into repeat customers.
Do you have plans to boost your holiday sales from marketing this year? How? Share your ideas with us in the Comments field below.