Christmas is fast approaching and people across the UK are preparing to loosen their belts, and their purse strings.
With retail sales hitting £77.6 million in the Christmas period last year, there’s no wonder why it’s called the “golden quarter”.
To help retailers to make the most of the Christmas and turn the sound of sleigh bells into the ding of cash registers, here are Lightspeed’s top ten tips direct from their retailers.
RECRUIT MORE STAFF
Before you focus on flooding your store with shoppers, it’s important to ensure you’re well prepared. Not only can you expect higher footfall, but your current staff are likely gearing up for party season and may have saved some time off.
Hiring temporary Christmas staff can mean the difference between items products flying off the shelves and feet flying out of the door.
Thankfully there are plenty of willing and experienced part-time retail staff available over the quarter, but it is wise to recruit them a few weeks prior to the height of the season so they’re comfortable in their role before they’re thrown in at the deep end.
INSTALL AN EPOS SYSTEM
New staff bring their own problems, and even the most experience will still make mistakes, especially during peak trading.
Installing an EPOS system allows retailer to train new staff be able to make sales in as little as 15 minutes. They can also significantly reduce the amount of human error by imposing permissions on things like refunds and discounts.
Most importantly they allow staff to give customers a much better experience, having access to stock figures of bestselling items immediately.
Using tablets and portable devices also help to cut down congestion and queues in store making them far more inviting for bypassing shoppers.
EXTEND YOUR OPENING HOURS
With plenty of staff at your disposal, opening for late shopping needn’t mean forcing hours of overtime of your workforce.
Consider what your projected peak times are likely to be and plan accordingly, while being sure to make a noise about your new opening times so last-minute present buyers know they can count on your store.
A common oversight for even the biggest retailers is running out of stock on their best-selling items. Plan ahead to ensure your predicted best sellers are well backed up to stop yourself getting caught short later down the line.
Also keep an eye on what’s selling well in the weeks before Christmas and consider stocking up, you never know items might surprise you.
It’s also a good idea to offer personalised “customers also bought this” options for items that have run out, keeping your customers browsing your site.
CLICK & COLLECT
Making shopping as easy as possible for time-shoppers over Christmas can really help boost sales, with 45 per cent of online shoppers using click-and-collect last year.
If you don’t currently offer the service consider integrating it into your retail operation. However, it is important to be sure the user experience is streamlined before rolling it out so shoppers aren’t put off.
Use a digital order code or mobile to confirm orders, this means shoppers don’t have to go to the effort of printing their order out before coming to the shop, meaning they can collect on a whim.
It’s also important to provide a separate collection point from the main till so online shoppers aren’t forced to queue upon collection.
DON’T BE BEATEN BY SANTA’S SLEIGH
Deliveries close to Christmas day can be a nerve-racking ordeal for shoppers, so it’s vital to make it as clear as possible when the final orders should be made to ensure delivery by Christmas day.
Communication is also a key factor with Christmas deliveries. Make sure your tracking and inventory systems are up to date and have staff ready to answer the phones during all trading hours.
This can work both ways, try emailing your customers with a countdown on when they need to order their gifts
Nowhere is Christmas more popular than on social media, so make sure your channels are Christmas themed and full of all the great gifts you have on offer.
Don’t be afraid to jump on the Christmas advert hype, last year mock adverts from smaller retailers were almost as popular as the real ones.
Christmas is also a great reason to roll out an email marketing campaign, found to be three times more effective than social media. Invite your customers in-store to take part in your Christmas events or even offer them special discounts.
HOST A CHRISTMAS EVENT
Christmas has become synonymous with sales and it’s a great opportunity to drum up some interest in your store.
Offering special discounts can help entice your customers in to start with, while techniques like offering a special gift over a certain spend can help keep them there.
There’s a reason all the top department stores put such emphasis on their Christmas window displays.
First impressions count and making the effort with a dazzling window display is a great way to make the most of the increased seasonal footfall.
Using movement or eye-catching lighting is sure way to catch shoppers attention, but including teasers for instore goodies like free hot drinks is an even better way to get them instore.
LAY OUT YOUR STORE ACCORDINGLY
Just because you have the shoppers through the door, it doesn’t mean you’re work is done.
Laying out your store, promoting different types of gifts at different points, can encourage shoppers to purchase items they didn’t know they needed.
Smaller inexpensive gifts work great nearer to the pay point for them to pick up while they queue, while big ticket gifts and best sellers should occupy the windows and prime spots in-store.