8 Ways to Prepare Our Stores for Christmas (my ABASTO MAGAZINE article)

2015-12-02_12-19-10

The holiday season is now upon us: Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas have officially arrived in our stores at full force. We need to prepare properly for these events, as we play a very important part of the annual turnover sales. Depending upon what kind of business we run — supermarkets, department stores or toy stores — we can assume that we are responsible for anywhere between 20% and 75% of the annual turnover.

If we think our customers will suddenly wake up one of these days and visit the first business they see, we are very much mistaken. The same goes for those who leave their holiday season’s campaign preparations until the last moment.

1. The Marketing Message

Penske Trucks

First, we must be clear in our marketing message. Our message must be fully synchronized with all our communication channels: social networks, website or store billboards. In this way, we have a clear business agenda and our messages are consistent.

2. Christmas Decorations and Showcases

One of the most important aspects of the business strategy for the Christmas season is the décor. The store ambiance must draw attention to our customers and fill them with a sense of excitement. The impact of the décor should gradually increase as we get closer to key holiday dates. Be sure to emphasize strategic elements such as lighting. Also, keep in mind that quantity is not quality, so only use decorative elements as needed. Of course, they must be of high quality, delivering a direct message to our customers.

3. Offers and Promotions

During the Christmas season, sales are entirely different from the rest of the year. For example, even our products and quantities are different because they are intended as gifts for others. Here are some guidelines to follow during the holiday season: promote low prices; create zones that are designated by price; always suggest the most “neutral” gift choice because it is difficult to know if “extreme” gifts will sell; and lastly, invest in quality paper and gift wraps.

4. Beyond the Price Tag: Influential Selling Factors

The factors that influence our customers to purchase products at one store instead of another, regardless of price, are: the customer’s shopping experience, store location and accessibility, customer service, post-sales services and the payment options.

5. Our Youngest Audience

Our children enjoy various holidays during this time of the year. They usually accompany their parents or relatives to make purchases. However, not all stores are designed with children in mind. By implementing just a few easy steps, we can improve the shopping experience for children: avoid placing products within the reach of children that may cause danger; use a more informal language for our “little customers” without talking down to them; keep customer bathrooms spotless; and take care when offering taste samples or candy to children – be sure to get permission from their parents first.

6. Background Music

The quality of our stores’ background music is another determining factor this Christmas season. The controlled use of background music will improve the Christmas environment and increase our sales. For example, many stores are limited to repeating the same music constantly. This practice can be uncomfortable for our customers. We can actually get creative, combining Christmas music with the musical styles we use in our businesses during the rest of the year. Remember, always create a style that evokes a feeling of peace, tranquility and rest.

7. Sensory Marketing: Utilizing Holiday Aromas

One of the greatest oversights in our stores which continues to be very important is olfactory marketing. We can actually influence our customers’ buying decisions through the aromas they pick up in the store environment.

8. The Technological Advantage

Finally, social networks are now an essential part of our businesses. They provide us with the advantage of interacting with our customers and finding out their demands and concerns first-hand. This Christmas season, social media will be fundamental so that our customers consult the feedback and shopping experience of other customers in the stores we manage.

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