Well, would you look at the time – Christmas is fast approaching! By now, you’re probably in the middle of your festive sales campaign. It’s an exciting but also stressful time of year for businesses of all kinds.
Add to that the headwinds businesses are facing in 2022 – inflation, staff shortages and supply chain issues – and it would be understandable if you’re not feeling quite as merry as the jolly guy in the red suit.
Fear not. We’re here to help with some simple Christmas business tips you can concentrate on to achieve a great festive result.
Lean into this season’s sentiment: savings
First, a spoonful of medicine. It’s true that customers are planning on spending less this year. For our inaugural Future of Retail report, we spoke to 1,000 Australian consumers (along with 500 retailers) and 69% of them said they’ll be reducing their discretionary spending this season.
So help them do that! But do it smart. More and more shoppers are planning their Christmas shopping around sales. Be tactical by offering discounts on products and services with healthy margins and on older stock you’d love to clear out. Or do you have a product you know you can sell a lot of? You might be happy to temporarily reduce your margin but more than make up for it in increased volume.
If you’ve missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that’s okay. Plan your own sale day with a special in-store event and promote it to your loyal customers across your channels. Tie this in with cut-off dates for shipping (for an online sale) or even ‘Panic Saturday’ on 17 December (in-store). Another promotion online retailers can explore is a free shipping day – this works best when your products naturally contain a good margin so you can afford to eat the freight charges.
Also, you don’t even need to throw a sale to appeal to shoppers’ saving instincts. Bundle items together in a prominent place on your website or in-store and highlight the amount saved – you can increase your total sale while helping your customer feel like they’ve saved money. Or create budget-conscious online collections and give them prominent real estate: gifts under $100, for example.
Afterpay is another crucial way you can help people budget and spread their repayments. The average Australian small business sees a 13% uplift in revenue by partnering with Afterpay, so it’s win-win.
Nail your customer communication
Every customer has unique needs, so let them know all the ways they can shop with you: online with shipping, click and collect, in-store and when you’re open late over the festive season.
Did we mention that Christmas can be stressful? That goes for your customers, too. There’s no such thing as over-communication, so let buyers know how much they need to spend for free shipping (better still, add a suggested purchase to help them get there). Almost half the customers we surveyed for our Future of Retail report said that free returns would encourage them to shop with an online retailer. Think about whether you can provide extra peace of mind (and gain something to boast about) by offering extended 60-day returns over the holiday period. And make sure you’re regularly checking your direct messages across all your social platforms as more and more customers are making stock enquiries that way.
And while you’re talking to your customers, it never hurts to create a sense of urgency. Promise an exclusive gift for the first 50 purchasers or, if it’s authentic, let people know you only have eight (or whatever) of this season’s most sought-after present.
Show your loyal customers you love them
It’s a lot easier to maintain an old friendship than to make a new pal. Similarly, you’ll get a much better return on investment by giving your existing customers excellent reasons to stay with you for another year than you will chasing new leads.
Why not plan a VIP party – with snacks, drinks and discounts – for repeat customers and loyalty program members? Personalising a set of shelf talkers written from your team’s perspective explaining what products they’d choose for their mum, son or hipster cousin can go a long way to solving your customers’ gifting conundrums.
Again, it doesn’t have to revolve around sale prices. Create that sense of urgency by offering your VIPs exclusive access to hot products for 48 hours before anyone else gets a chance.
Thank your regulars with a customer loyalty program.
Delight your customers by going a little bit extra
Everyone loves to be surprised at Christmas time and creating memorable moments will keep your customers coming back.
Why not pop a small gift in with those bigger purchases or for your most loyal shoppers? Christmas fudge, a set of high-quality blank Christmas cards your customer can use for all their presents, candles, wine or a $25 voucher to spend in January (kickstarting your post-holiday push) – anything that matches your brand proposition is a good choice.
Offer gift wrapping and a personalised, handwritten card on shipped orders (so they can be sent direct to the giftee) for another thoughtful touch.
Welcome to the social (media) season!
An effective social media campaign can not only make all the difference for the holiday period but also set you up for the whole year. There are loads of ideas out there, but here are a few of our favourites.
Team up with other businesses to run a giveaway: The cross-company leverage will maximise your exposure and drive sales. Pop in an email consent to the T&Cs to build your mailing list.
Offer a free Christmas checklist along with that all-important gift guide: Frazzled Christmas shoppers will truly appreciate a checklist covering all the things they might need to think of booking and buying in the lead up to the holidays. Have fun with the format and make it right for your channels and audiences: it could be a single post, a series of images, a video or even a reel or story.
Share some Christmas recipes, movies or a playlist: If your business connects to food (however tangentially) then posting some of your favourite recipes is a no-brainer. Christmas is about eating together, so you’ll be sharing in the halo of that warmth. Everyone has opinions about the best Christmas movies of all time. Frame it as a checklist and challenge your customers to see them all these holidays. And you don’t need to be a music store to share your public Spotify playlist. If your customers look to you as a tastemaker, they’ll love you for picking out some seasonal bangers. #nobublé
We hope you find some useful ideas here! Of course, you’ll find plenty more tips and insights in our free Future of Retail report. Download it here.