Labor Day has come and gone signifying for many the end of summer. And the end of summer means only one thing: the holiday season is here! Are you ready to make this your best holiday season yet in terms of sales and revenues?
Well, times are still tough. After all, we haven’t really gotten out yet of the dreaded recession. Some are saying that the recession can still impact the retail sector for another year (Ok, the study is in UK, but I feel that it is very applicable to US situation as well).
But of course, we need to think – and formulate strategies – that will make sure our businesses are one of those that will do well, even with the recession.
The National Retail Federation has an excellent study called “Staying Ahead of the Curve” that can help you think and develop your strategies given the current economic situation. They recommend that:
- Retailers need to stoke want and desire with excitement — driving incremental sales with targeted, sharper merchandise presentation.
- Retailers need to think about it differently — — reduce discretionary spending, slow expansion, curtail payrolls and tighten inventory controls.
- Do it differently, from finding out what customers really want, determining a more efficient sourcing and logistics structure, strengthening the brand, and increasing value proposition with new and differentiated merchandise.
- It’s still not business as usual, and markdowns will continue to have the most significant impact on margins
- Develop a more profitable business model.
- Higher average selling prices had been positive
- Reduce inventory assortments could provide a more customer-friendly shopping environment
- Focus on maximizing gross profit per square foot
- Retailers need to build closer working relationship with vendors
You can also gain additional insight on how to sell in this tough environment from Bob Phibbs, author of the book “The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business: A Step-by-Step Approach to Quickly Diagnose, Treat, and Cure. He posted in his blog a very good article “Hot Retail Trends In 2010” where he identifies the trends this year:
- Big box retailers have given up on the browsers; consumers are now seen as mission shoppers.
- If you have something to say – blogs are a great vehicle to connect with people in your industry!
- Retailers need to create safe educational learning where they can role-play and get immediate feedback.
- Merchandising and sales skills have deteriorated.
- Accidental businesses can prosper
- Online retailers are looking to get into the bricks and mortar
- Social media continues to get rave reviews for the isolated stories
- Great customer service these days is about fixing things gone wrong or getting your way
Hopefully the above resources have given you enough ammo to understand what it is like to sell better this year.
To prepare how to sell for this holiday season, I previously wrote about how online businesses could start preparing to ensure good sales. In the article “8 Tips to Holiday Online Selling”, my suggestions to small businesses in preparing for the holiday season include:
- Analyze your past holiday selling experiences, if available
- Prepare your promotional plan as early as summer.
- Get your website ready
- Clarify your holiday hours and shipping information, including the deadline for when orders should be placed for guaranteed arrival before the holidays.
- Check your inventory to ensure that only available items are posted on your site.
- Get positive reviews from shopping comparison sites.
- Tap the blogosphere
- Use transactional emails to cross-sell your products
And speaking of emails, check out my post today entitled “Holiday Retailing: Email Marketing Trends and Tips” where I highlighted the results of a study that analyzed more than 5,250 emails from more than 100 top U.S. online retailers during the fourth quarter last year.
Sure times are still tough … but it doesn’t mean that you cannot come up on top!