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Essential tips to help retailers thrive at Christmas

Essential tips to help retailers thrive at Christmas

8 December 2016

The Christmas trading season is beginning to heat up. Reports from the Australian Retailers Association predict $48.1 billion in sales in retail stores over the Christmas trading period from November 15 to December 24, 2016. This creates huge opportunities for retailers across the country to cash in on consumer spending.

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought we’d start the countdown by sharing ten tips to help you and your business survive and thrive this festive season.

  • Be prepared - You should be well underway with Christmas preparation by now, from having enough stock on hand, to your window displays looking suitably snow-flaked. Preparedness can mean the difference between a big season and a slow one, so don’t wait until customers have already filled their stockings before you turn on the Christmas cheer.
  • Talk to your staff - Christmas is usually the busiest time of the year for retailers. Whether you have your regulars on the till or you are bringing in Christmas casuals, make sure your rosters are spot on. This means knowing and understanding your employees’ contracts. Can they work extra hours? What penalty rates will you pay? Will their hours make them eligible for the superannuation guarantee? Revisit the employment requirements for your business to be sure there are no unfortunate surprises.
  • Know your customers - It’s really important to know who your customers are and their spending habits. Are you selling to someone who wants to get in, find four gifts under $50 and get out again? Are they able to buy your goods online so are really purchasing your service not your product? The more you know, the better you can target your customers and stock your merchandise accordingly.
  • Christmas shipping and delivery - If your business offers online shopping and delivery, be very clear about your Christmas shipping and delivery dates. Check delivery dates with your distributors and ensure the latest guaranteed Christmas delivery dates are clearly visible on your website.  This will save a lot of angry calls and bad feeling from the frustrated customers who haven’t received the deliveries they’re expecting. In fact, use your final delivery dates as a sales tool by reminding customers to make that purchase before it’s too late.
  • ‘Tis the season to be jolly - Have you jollied up your work place?If you haven’t then now is the time to get the tinsel out. Who doesn’t like to work in a festive environment rather than a business devoid of any seasonal touches? Embrace the spirit of Christmas by creating a far more motivating and uplifting environment to work in.
  • Make the most out of your social media - Christmas is a great time to use your social media platforms to engage with your customers. Social media is an excellent, low-cost way to communicate with customers on an emotional level, and a great way to build brand awareness and brand personality. You could run a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ campaign featuring gift ideas.
  • Santa’s little helpers - Be prepared for a last minute Christmas rush. There is always a significant proportion of shopping done on Christmas Eve so don’t rule out last-minute Christmas sales and ensure you have enough staff on hand to cope.
  • Returns and exchanges: dealing with unwanted gifts - Just as December brings with it a surge in sales, January is likely to bring with it a surge in returns and exchanges. To avoid any misunderstanding, make sure customers are aware of your returns policy when they make a purchase. As a small business, keeping existing customers is far more cost-effective than acquiring new customers so bear this in mind when it comes to returns and try to be as flexible as you possibly can. Another handy tip with returns and exchanges is to have a dedicated ‘returns and exchanges’ staff member. This means paying customers aren’t waiting behind those wanting money back.
  • Out of office - Make sure you communicate your businesses’ Christmas plans to your customers. If the shop will be closed and you aren’t going to be answering emails or calls over the Christmas period then make sure you’ve got signage at your shop, and an out of office message on your website, email and voicemail is in place. 
  • Take a break - Running a small business can be hugely rewarding but with long hours it can be all-consuming. It’s OK to switch off once in a while - in fact it’s essential. Spending time with friends and family and having the chance to properly relax and unwind is important both mentally and physically. Make a plan of what you need to do to enable you to fully enjoy your time off. If you are unable to take a complete break, then plan a specific time slot each day to check emails and return phone calls.

Happy Christmas - here’s to the sound of ringing cash registers!

Sources: The Australian National Retailers Association http://www.anra.com.au/media-releases/christmas-spending-projections, ShopIntegrator http://blog.shopintegrator.com/2013/12/12/12-days-until-christmas-essential-tips-to-help-small-businesses-survive-christmas/Phil Kemp, Business Foundations http://businessfoundationsinc.com.au/

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