4 things retailers can do to prepare for holiday shopping |
Even though it’s only the end of summer, retailers have already spent months preparing for the holiday season.
And due to a whirlwind of factors — including inflation, supply chain issues, and consumer spending habits that have changed during COVID-19 shutdowns — retailers are eyeing a shopping season that promises to be even harder than usual.
Preparing for the holiday season is essential, as Black Friday and the weeks after can make or break a physical store, says Richard Rizika, partner and co-founder of Beta Agency, a commercial real estate agency based in greater Los Angeles. . Rizika was also Vice President of the Retail Services Group at CBRE, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate investment firms.
“Many traders haven’t made any money this year and are relying on this surge during the holiday season to generate profits,” says Rizika. “If things fall flat, or you miss the goods, or the consumer just doesn’t show up, it can be tragic.”
Fortunately, there are things business owners can do to stand out in an even more unforgiving business environment than usual.
1. Spread the word about holiday sales early
Gone are the days of shoppers lazily wandering around the neighborhood or mall and barging into stores. Consumers today do a lot more research before entering a store than they ever have, says Sean Turner, co-founder and chief technology officer of Swiftly, a commerce technology company electronic.
“I think the most important thing is being able to get the message out to consumers in an effective way to celebrate the savings and deals they have,” Turner says. “Consumers have become much more planned.”
It’s a smart strategy for retailers to advertise their upcoming holiday sales as much as possible: via in-store signs, yes, but especially via their websites and social media presence. These are the platforms that customers check before choosing to visit a store, especially if they plan to spend more than they usually do on non-essential items.
“Show them great savings and deals to drive that trip,” Turner says.
2. Better yet, launch sales sooner than your competitors
Of course, you can get customers excited about your upcoming sales. You can also roll out these sales earlier than your competitors, and even before the unofficial start of the holiday season with Black Friday (November 25 this year).
“If you’re a retailer and a good trader, don’t be afraid to deliver these deals sooner than in the past,” says Jason Baker, principal of Baker Katz, a Houston-based retail brokerage firm.
Even if you can’t roll out your flagship sales until the holiday season, consider offering smaller sales now to attract shoppers to your store. If they’re unfamiliar with your brand, those sales could keep customers coming back to finish their holiday shopping with you in a few months.
“Retail is an early bird game,” says Turner. “The first place you see the case and decide to buy it – guess what? It’s a product you don’t buy from another retailer.
3. Have a top-notch website
If your store doesn’t have a website yet, it’s too late for that to happen before this year’s holiday season, Baker says. If you have one, make sure it’s at least fully operational, user-friendly, and completely up-to-date on your current inventory and availability. This is also a good time to polish your social media presence.
Retailers can optimize their website for heavy holiday traffic by “making it clear what merchandise is out of stock or unavailable and sharing delivery options in advance,” says Peter Messana, CEO of Searchspring, a e-commerce software.
Of course, these upgrades aren’t just necessary for the holiday season. About 17.2% of all retail sales are done online, excluding car and restaurant purchases, according to CBRE. And around 80% of shoppers search a store’s website first before visiting the physical storefront, according to a 2021 survey conducted by Visual Objects, a creative design directory.
Top retailers, says Rizika, “not only engage when they’re open, they engage when they’re closed.”
“Talk to the consumer and sell to the consumer while your doors are closed, through your ability to interact with them online, whether it’s with a great website or social media,” says Rizika.
4. Create an inviting place more fun than online shopping
It is no longer enough for physical storefronts to showcase top-notch products and services. Businesses today need to make the store an even better destination than the conveniences of online shopping.
“For me, using the store as a competitive advantage is something small business needs to learn how to do,” says Rizika.
These improvements don’t have to be huge. If you’re in a temperate climate that allows patio seating year-round, consider setting up a few chairs or tables outside your store if permitted. Maximize the natural lighting of your store. Install attractive indoor plants around the store. Heck, see if there’s room for a comfy couch or some fancy chairs in the front of the store.
The point is to think of small ways to activate the space.
“Owners think of their places as brands and try to connect their brand to the consumer, it’s something big retailers have been doing for a long time, and more and more retailers are starting to recognize this trend,” says Rizika. “All of these things that have become increasingly important to us as consumers.”