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plan early for the christmas sales rush
plan early for the christmas sales rush

December demands decisions

Christmas is coming and David Brown says it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the silly season is often make or break time. Preparation is crucial, he says, so don’t waste a minute or wait till it’s too late.

How many jewellers go into December as if it’s the same as any other trading month? Here’s the news – it’s not. The month of December can contribute as much as 25 per cent of a store’s total annual sales, 10 per cent of this done in the final three days before Christmas. Is it therefore so odd to expect a little more planning than usual at this time of the year?

Here’s a quick pre-Christmas checklist to help make this December the best month ever.

Review old stock
Now is the best opportunity to shift that product that just won’t move. The sheer weight of numbers coming through the door means even the ugliest item has a chance of finding a home this Christmas.

Re-ticket and re-box old pieces
Many old items often have nothing wrong with them other than the staff doesn’t like them. Re-box and re-ticket old items and start showing them to consumers. Offer incentives to staff to see these items go for good.

Carry spares
This refers to bread and butter items. Suppliers may not be able to supply at Christmas so re-order any fast-sellers early to avoid missing sales on account of having no stock.

Plan promotion and marketing
Really plan marketing and promotion properly. What product lines are best-sellers? What is the marketing budget? What other retailers target similar customers and what joint promotion opportunities might be available? What will it take to make the store a shop of choice this year?

Focus the staff
A coach wouldn’t send a sports team onto the field without each player knowing which position they were playing in and what tactics were required, yet retailers do this repeatedly at Christmas. Make sure all staff, especially casuals, know the game plan this season.

Talk to staff about December goals
Share with staff the budgeted target and plans to get there: make sure all staff understand the importance of keeping the store presentable at all times; talk about the best-selling products and how to keep them on show; fine tune staff’s customer approach; make sure rosters are in place with back-ups on call throughout December.

The average customer has over 10 gifts to buy at this time of year. Work every angle for add-on sales.

Review procedures to better cope with rush demand
Aside from extra staff, there may be the need for spare repair books, extra wrapping paper and computer rolls. The business might even need an extra POS terminal or till. Make sure all these things are considered well in advance.

Get the best salespeople out on the floor
December is not the month to let new staff “have a go”. This period is too important to leave for novices. Would a team let a rookie “have a go” at grand final time? Of course not. It’s a time for the professionals, and closing is everything. Those missed sales are not coming back tomorrow. Customers are here to buy today.

Make sure the best staff are handling the most important stock items like diamond rings, and are fully aware of their targeted goals this Christmas.

Junior or casual staff should be trained to assist these staff members, handling all other less-important or administrative tasks to keep the best salespeople out there selling.

There’s no point having the number one staff member out the back sorting through stock. Opportunities will be missed.

Record and measure all activities
It’s easy to forget all the decisions, processes and marketing initiatives that were in place throughout the year, especially when things get busy. Even all the great things that happened last Christmas are now a distant memory with retailers reinventing the wheel each December.

Record all marketing initiatives and store policies in a document so they can be easily referenced at a later date.

The biggest crime of marketing is not that retailers get it wrong; it’s that they fail to learn from their mistakes.

Don’t give up on a good idea or continue with a bad one when all it takes is a note to remember. If retailers don’t measure the success of all promotions, how will they know if the promotion was successful?

David Brown

Contributor • Retail Edge Consultants

David Brown is co-founder and business mentor with Retail Edge Consultants. Learn more:

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