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Tips on Selling

Get your Christmas strategy in place now
Get your Christmas strategy in place now

Getting on track for the Christmas rush

Retailers should have already started preparing for Christmas, the year’s busiest buying period. DAVID BROWN shares his essential steps to take before the holiday season begins to set your business up for success.

The busiest time of year is coming and retailers and their staff will soon feel the excitement of the festive season and the bigger sales it can deliver.

However, it’s common to also feel overwhelmed at Christmas; resources are always stretched, staffing is at full capacity and investment in stock is at an all-time high.

December is a time to focus on driving sales as it should be the most profitable month of the year. What retailers do now will set themselves up for Christmas success.

Sort rosters now

Chances are your store trading hours will increase at this time of year. Don’t wait until December to sort out your staffing requirements. Ensure you have prepared the roster well in advance and everyone knows which days they will be required to work so that they can plan accordingly.

It’s crucial to also have contingencies in place for unexpected illnesses and to make sure everyone gets some time off in order to stay fresh for the workload Christmas brings.

Identify fast-sellers

The 80/20 rule – also known as the Pareto Principle – is never more alive than in December. As a refresher, this rule is that 20 per cent of your inventory generates 80 per cent of your revenue.

For that reason, now is the time to make sure best sellers don’t run out. Print a list of fast sellers by department and determine which items are likely to sell in larger quantities in December. Make sure you have enough to get you through.

Set staff incentives

The holiday period is the time when you need your salespeople to be at their most motivated. Determine your target for the month and offer team and individual incentives – you could run a reward for the highest sale of the day, for example.

Motivated staff are less likely to take absences and will work harder when it counts. They also offer better customer service.

Plan your marketing
"If you have a good customer list or database, it’s time to begin contacting them. Most people will need at least one gift; don’t leave it up to chance that they will visit you"

Which evening events will you be running approaching Christmas? What promotional material will you be producing? What channels will you use to communicate these and to whom? Will promotions go directly to customers or to the public at large? Will there be a gift with purchase or perhaps a discount for buying add-on items?

These are all questions that can make or break your selling season.

Lights, lights, lights

It’s the little things that count. Replacing light bulbs whether they’ve gone out or not can make a huge difference to how diamonds sparkle in store. Likewise, make sure all display cases are clean, all price tickets are fresh and all windows are themed appropriately with a mix of best sellers and prestige items. In short, ensure the store looks ready for business.

Invest in staff training

A quick refresher in sales techniques for your staff can pay big dividends during December but you won’t have time once the month begins. Implement a series of training sessions in the lead-up months to get your staff operating at their most effective.

Replenish consumables

Once again, it’s the small things that can cause the biggest problems. Make sure you have plenty of wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons and other consumables that you’ll need. Nothing is worse than the EFTPOS machine running out of paper while there are 10 people in the queue!

Order early, deliver late

Staggering order deliveries can help to ease cash flow through Christmas. Order early but arrange later deliveries to avoid settling orders before the cash comes in.

Look for add-ons

Pair all of your best-selling items with a ‘go-to’ add-on that can be offered with each sale. Add-ons can make a huge difference, particularly at this time of year.

Work your list

If you have a good customer list or database, it’s time to begin contacting them. Most people will need at least one gift; don’t leave it up to chance that they will visit you. Make a strong offer early in the season to keep your store front of mind. A promotional text message is a good option because people are far more likely to open them than an email.

Whether you use these tips or not, don’t leave planning for the busiest time of year until it’s too late. December can contribute as much as 25 per cent of a store’s total yearly sales and can be almost 100 per cent of the profit for some businesses. Investing some time now will pay huge dividends for you later.

David Brown

Contributor • Retail Edge Consultants

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

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