There are two types of people in this world: those who live for the silly season and those who dread its arrival.
Luckily for retailers, both categories of people tend to spend in the lead-up to Christmas. In fact, it’s been tipped that shoppers will spend of about $50 billion between mid-November and Christmas Eve.
So how do you make sure you see a healthy slice of the festive action?
1. Make last-minute adjustments to inventory
Executive director for the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, said now is an ideal time to ensure you have the right balance of stock on hand to meet your customers’ needs.
“Whether you’re a single shopfront or a nation-wide chain, you probably should have had your inventory planned up to five or six months in advance,” he said.
“But now is a great time to make tweaks to your inventory.”
2. Carefully balance foot traffic, wages and opening hours
“Retailers in shopping centres generally have to play by the facility’s rules, but otherwise every retailer should try to assess their opening hours according to their needs,” advised Zimmerman.
Everyone knows to expect extended shopping hours generally begin in December, but that doesn’t mean every business should attempt to match those hours.
“Wages increase by 25 per cent after 6pm, and there’s not point paying those extra wages if you just won’t realise a proportional increase in foot traffic,” he said.
Christmas is also the ideal time to trial new and junior staff members who can help out with the odd jobs like stacking and packing.
3. Make the most of digital marketing
Modern marketing techniques like email direct marketing, search engine marketing and social media can all achieve great results – even if you’re not selling online.
“I think social media is the way to get advertising out there at a minimal price,” said Zimmerman.
“All retailers should make sure they’re present and active on their local community Facebook page so they can promote their offering, hours and any special events they might have coming up.”
4. Review your pricing strategy – it’s not always about the deepest discount
With the likes of Amazon entering the market, a lot of retailers are responding by dropping their prices – but that’s not always the best approach.
“If I’m looking to buy a nice shirt, I’m happy to pay a little extra of my local store can offer free alterations with the purchase, which I find to be better value than paying a little less at one of the bigger brands that don’t offer this service,” said Zimmerman.
“Different people are likely to be looking at different products for different reasons, and all of this must be considered when figuring out how to price your wares.
“Most importantly, retailers must be aware of the consumer law around advertising discounts.”
The ubiquitous “WAS $X, NOW $Y” is something that can catch retailers out, as the ‘was’ price must be proven to be offered in the store or at some point sold at that price, otherwise you may get stung by the ACCC.
5. Share the festive cheer – especially with your best customers
“It’s an age-old retail tenet, and it’s as true today as it ever has been: it’s much cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire new ones,” said Zimmerman.
“Christmas is the ideal time to celebrate the people who support you, and it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise.”
Rather than offering special customer discounts, Zimmerman suggests adding a little something to your regular customers’ basket at no cost.
“The customer may see an extra 10 dollars of retail value in their basket, but that item probably only cost your business five dollars – and the more thought you’ve put into the gift, the more they’ll appreciate you for it.”