How to increase your sales at ChristmasSmall Business Advice 11 December 2018
We know it’s coming every year, and yet it still sneaks up on people as the look on any shoppers’ face on December 23rd will tell you. Yet it’s not only shoppers caught out by Christmas: Black Friday and Cyber Monday events are an added pressure for business owners at the start of the busiest shopping period.
Don’t worry – it’s still possible to increase footfall and sales without breaking the bank, and at short notice. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Join a late-night shopping event
Most towns hold late-night shopping events leading up to Christmas. If one’s happening in your town, take part. Even if you extend your business hours one or two evenings a week, customers will appreciate being able to fit in some Christmas shopping after work.
Run a promotion
Create a promotion that encourages shoppers to spend more. You could offer a small, thoughtful gift for purchases over a certain amount, or a discount on a second item. This can also encourage people to tell their friends, and a word-of-mouth recommendation is a powerful driver of new custom.
Make your premises inviting
You don’t need to create a lavish window display to rival Harrods. Warm, welcoming lighting will make your shop more attractive to shivering shoppers. Offering seasonal snacks and refreshments and letting customers sample products will encourage them to spend more time in your shop, and give you a opportunities to engage with them.
Be attuned to repeating Christmas music
Playing the same Christmas hits repeatedly can be trying for staff – and you don’t need a team of Grinches! That said, research shows customers spend more when seasonal music is played, especially when you add seasonal scents (like cinnamon, pine and mulled wine). So don’t be a Grinch and kill the music: mix it up and watch sales climb up.
Take your products to Christmas markets
Christmas markets are a great way to grow your customer base by taking your stock to ones nearby. Watch out for last-minute stall availability as this can sometimes be cheaper. You’ll need a mobile card reader to process card payments, otherwise you’ll have to rely on cash.
Do something for charity
Do something for a local cause to generate PR and word-of-mouth publicity. You could donate a percentage of Christmas sales to a local charity or raise funds by running a raffle with your products as the prize.
Quick-fix marketing ideas
Sophisticated digital marketing techniques are now available to even the smallest business. Better still, some are free. Here are a couple of ways to create quick, seasonal messages and promotions.
Update your website
Promote discounts and special events on your homepage, and make sure visitors can easily see your Christmas opening hours. Also, use your homepage to encourage visitors to sign up for emails and encourage subscription with a welcome offer. This can encourage repeat visits, especially if paired with a theme like The Twelve Gifts of Christmas…
Promote your business with email
Services like Mailchimp and Zoho Campaigns let you create quick and easy emails using existing templates. You can email up to 2,000 people at a time, giving you a fast and easy way to tell customers about promotions and events.
Use local press
Look out for ‘distress space’ in the printed or digital versions of any local paper. Distress space is when an advertiser has to cancel a scheduled advert. As it’s often last-minute, the available space can be available at a heavily discounted rate.
Turn returns into exchanges
You can’t please all of the people, all of the time, and that’s certainly true at Christmas. There’s bound to be someone who wants to return a gift. This gives you an opportunity to change a refund into an exchange, possibly a higher value item (this can be more easily done if you’ve started a January sale).
Check your payment system
The last thing you need is for your card machine or payment processor to let you down. Check your payment provider’s Christmas opening hours, including the support available should you encounter any issues.
Support your support staff
If you’re recruiting temporary staff, take time to train them on using your card machine and till – and look forward to hearing your tills ring as loud as Christmas bells.
Finally, the good news is that according to our latest research, there is an appetite for spending in SMEs this Christmas.