Whether your business is clicks or bricks, now is the time to make sure your Black Friday and Cyber Monday plans are set. If you havent finalized your holiday strategy, theres still time to put together and execute an effective campaign.
Black Friday tips
Deloitte is forecasting an increase of 3.5 to 4 percent in total holiday sales over last year, which should be welcome news to retail store owners. So how can you make sure youre ready to maximize your slice of the pie?
Jennifer Kennedy, owner of Kixx Shoes, a childrens shoe store located in Park Towne Village shopping center, is using a variety of techniques to compete this season. First, she is making sure that shoppers with kids in tow find a fun and welcoming atmosphere for their little ones as they browse. I like to describe our store as super kid-friendly, Kennedy said.
Her preparations range from extra staff to decorations and music to laying in a good supply of holiday-themed inventory such as party shoes, winter boots and stocking-stuffers such as shoelaces, hair accessories and childrens jewelry. My best advice to other retailers is dont wait to run your best sales and specials. The closer it gets to the holidays, the less people have left in their gift budget. It is very competitive after Thanksgiving and everyone expects a deal.
Store owners should also be prepared for the growing trend of showrooming where customers come to check out the merchandise in person, but are comparing prices from online merchants from their mobile devices. Mobile marketing company Vibes found 84 percent of showrooming shoppers are conducting product research while shopping, but not necessarily abandoning their in-store purchase.
So make sure you put yourself in your customers shoes and dont get caught off-guard by what they might be finding online. Remember, its not always about price; sometimes its about instant gratification, easy returns or a gift with purchase.
Cyber Monday tips
If your business does most or all its business online, the projections for the 2012 holiday shopping season are even rosier, with projections of 15 to 17 percent growth over 2011.
Iron Aces Speed Shop, an online retailer of Harley-Davidson parts and accessories, is just such a business. Owner Lindsey Trausch said her e-commerce website wont be doing anything for Black Friday, but has been focused on Cyber Monday for almost a year.
We basically started thinking about what we wanted to do this year right after Cyber Monday ended last year. We did more volume on that one day than we did in all of October, Trausch said.
Trausch and her team have worked to negotiate seasonal discounts with their vendors to create promotional pricing for their holiday deals without sacrificing margin. Our vendors get to reap the benefits of the marketing campaign that we roll out for them, which is great for their brand awareness, in exchange for special pricing that we can pass on.
Other e-commerce business owners would do well to provide their Web team sufficient time to set up and thoroughly test online codes, and check their marketing copy to ensure any rules or limitations are clearly stated. Trausch suggests, Think of anything that could possibly go wrong so you can be prepared for everything.
Physical stores and online stores can use similar communication strategies for staying top of mind during this peak season. Many businesses use a combination of print, email and social media to get the word out. Figure out where your customers hang out online if you havent already, then start posting, pinning and tweeting to build excitement and anticipation.
No matter what kind of business you own, the holidays provide a wonderful opportunity for customer outreach. Consider a Thanksgiving card for your top clients, or how you can hook into New Years resolutions. What seasonal services can your business offer to lighten the load when everyone is pressed for time or traveling at year end? And if your customers are other businesses, how can you align with typical fourth-quarter activities such as office parties and employee recognition?
Whatever your plans, be sure to keep the lines of communication open between you and your customers. If you take the time to gather their feedback this year, youll be well positioned for an even better 2013.