10 Ways to Improve Your Profitability and Inventory Turn this Holiday Season
#3 Prepare to give stellar customer service
Frazzled staff are a retail store’s reality, especially at this time of year, but part of your preparations should include doing everything you can to provide exceptional customer service, never mind the weather or mayhem.
It might help to hold this thought uppermost in your mind: the holidays bring people into your store who would never venture your way at any other time. This is your opportunity to give them the kind of customer service that will draw them back again and again.
During this season you and your staff should be particularly on the lookout for the befuddled buyer—grandparents in search of something (anything!) for their teenage grandchild, a husband looking for a unique and less-likely-to-be-returned present for his spouse or a boss trying to find something intriguing for his staff.
A friendly face asking “Who are you buying for and can I help?” may not only result in a sale, but more importantly, create a return customer. Helping a shopper find what they are looking for—even when they aren’t sure themselves—creates customer loyalty.
This is also the ideal time of year for showing a faithful customer that you do pay attention, and you have just the thing for their Hanukkah open house, or for their five year old, or for their aching back.
Tip: Stress to your staff that they have to keep the kvetching inside the break room or after hours. It puts a damper on your customers’ spirits (and your sales) when the employees are heard complaining. "Never let your customers see you sweat" is the motto of this (and any, really) season.
Praise and reward employees who never let their tinsel get in a tangle, no matter how chaotic things get!
#4 Upsell your inventory with creative packaging
Creative packaging allows you to bundle products in enticing ways. It also avoids that scenario you know only too well where shoppers see an item, ask you questions about it, then check their smartphone and see that the price is cheaper elsewhere/online and so they leave your store empty handed.
Consider this: you can’t compare prices on a beautifully arranged and unique gift basket.
In addition, if you package your products with a special occasion in mind, there’s a chance you’ll see a frazzled shopper’s eyes light up. They might have only about 3 minutes until the party starts, and they still need to dress, and you have provided the perfect gift, in a festive package, just right for the occasion.
Cue a huge sigh of relief.
A classy black and white market tray loaded with spa products for the customer’s elegant (but perpetually stressed) friend? Perfect!
A lined picnic basket with artisanal treats for their kid’s nature-loving teacher? Ideal!
Get creative, think about how to combine products and be proactive in purchasing packaging supplies. Your bottom line will thank you for it!
#5 Maintain good relationships with your suppliers
There’s an old adage: take good care of the people who take care of you.
Ideally, you want a partnership with your suppliers/vendors that allows you to establish trading terms that help your cash flow and business growth. The effort you make to develop good rapport with your suppliers all year long will pay off particularly well during the holidays if you need a rush order, have a question or some other problem arises.
And you can be a good partner to your supplier by helping them flush excess stock--at a price that will wow your customers, of course!
#6 Create a good shopping experience for your customers
Because face it—they could be shopping online.
But Christmas is a time when shoppers want to be out and about with other people. They are often feeling excited and/or nostalgic. Just thinking about the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday can motivate them to turn away from their screens and walk through your doors.
Be aware of all of the senses as you prepare for the season, and keep your brand in mind as you plan.
‘Tis the season for lights and bling-ey things. Or nostalgic candy canes, depending on your brand and products. Be sure you pack a visual punch with your holiday décor and products. This is no time to be staid.
Tip: Put together gift baskets that will do double duty as décor and product.
Envision a row of festive silver sleighs, each filled with items for sale (such as jewelry/delectables/ornaments/fill-in-the-name-of-your-product-here), all tucked into light-catching cello shred.
A holiday sight to behold!
The nose knows when it’s happy and for all of us humans, our sense of smell is a shortcut route to our emotions. If your products lean toward the nostalgic, cinnamon and nutmeg will liven up the shoppers’ memory banks and you’ll hear lots of “Oh, I remember these! I’ve got to get one!”
If your brand is all about freshness, bring in some fresh spruce boughs (replace when they get dry) or stack lemons in strategic spots for a pop of scent and color.
We all cringe at that endlessly-looping version of White Christmas. Do your customers (and staff!) a favor and give a lot of thought to your holiday playlist. What mood do you want to create? Chances are you’ve addressed this for the rest of the year to make sure your audio identity is consistent with your brand. Don’t abandon that approach just because it’s Christmas.
And another thing: make sure the volume is appropriate for your consumers, more than the staff. Your weary employees may want a musical boost, but if the sound is too raucous, customers may not even step inside your retail space. Music should augment, not overpower.
With some thought and effort, you can deliver an experience that not only entices your customers to cross items off their shopping list, but also sends them off in good spirits.
And one last thing:
Don’t forget to take time to breathe in the season yourself and enjoy the festive spirit. With proper planning and execution, you’ll go a long way in creating not only a profitable holiday season, with a high inventory turn, but a merry one too.
At Almac Imports, we love to play matchmaker between your needs and the products that will meet them. Since 1963 we have been helping people from a cross-section of industries (retail, food service, floral, specialty shops, supermarkets, just to name a few) to find the baskets, containers and packaging supplies they need to showcase their products.
Contact us or visit our website. You want to be ready for a profitable and jolly holiday season—we can help!