How to Prepare Your Store for the Holidays
Fri Sep 23 2022
Coffee & cornetto
Ten Things All Retailers Should Do to Get Ready for the Festive Season
The holiday season is fast approaching and so is the most profitable time of the year for any retail business— e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores alike. It’s only September, but before you realize it, customers will be flying in, days will feel hectic, and your hands will be swamped in gift wrapping paper. For retailers, now’s the time to plan ahead and get your retail stores ready to make the most of the holiday shopping season: from the perfect inventory to a tailored customer experience, here are 10 things to do in-store for preparing for the holidays.
Plan Your Inventory
Planning your inventory in advance is essential to face seasonal high demand and avoid running out of stock and missing potential sales. Buying wholesale now will allow you to allocate the right budget on your holiday inventory based on data: analyze your sales performance for this time last year and consider customers’ expected shopping behavior for the season ahead. Do some research on current trends as well and evaluate what to include in your collection, while also equipping your store with best-seller products that you know will be easily sold.
The challenge here is to satisfy customers’ requests without finding yourself with surplus stock at the end of the season. For this reason, don’t focus only on seasonal products but invest in timeless pieces that can be sold throughout the year too.
On Mirta, you can browse hundreds of wholesale products from contemporary and local brands, easily checking estimated delivery dates for every single product. This will help you make conscious choices, knowing exactly when the pieces will arrive at your store and allowing you to quickly re-stock any item you might need in just a few weeks. A very important benefit during peak season.
Organize and Train Your Staff
Your staff is your store and your store is your staff: that's true all year round, but even more at Christmas time. Working days will be hectic and long, and you want to be equipped with the best staff possible to face upcoming challenges with a smile. September is a good moment to evaluate if you will need extra staff during those busy weeks and if so, it will give you plenty of time to train them accordingly.
Whether newbies or experienced, it is important to train everyone on how to deliver the best customer service possible. This includes engaging with customers in a proper way, knowing the merchandise as much as possible, and even keeping an eye out for shoplifting behaviors. Building a strong team is going to make a difference.
Optimize Your Online Store
If you have an online store, now’s the time to make it perfect. Many customers will choose to do their holiday shopping online and preparing your e-commerce store is essential for good sale performances.
Check that your catalog and product offer is up to date, keep an eye on your stock levels, and optimize product pages with exhaustive product descriptions and catching photography. Updating some evergreen content with festive photos could also be a smart move to grab your visitors’ attention. Make sure that your site is easy to navigate too, as people will not have much time on their hands at this time of year.
Last but not least, tell your story. Your online store should be as unique as your physical store— make sure to highlight your story, your style, and why people love your space.
Curate Gift Guides and Bundles
To help your clients find gift ideas in an easy and stress-free way, curate gift guides that can inspire them— both online and offline. They could be organized by category, such as our small leather gift guide or our jewelry gift guide; by theme, such as our edit of products to relax at home or our handy stocking fillers; or by receiver, such as our gift guide for pets. Make sure to include a gift guide on playful Christmas products too, as those are always fun and catchy. Our edit of festive intimates and socks could be the inspiration you’re looking for.
Consider having some bundle offers as well— at this time of year, customers are very much receptive to promotions and discounts that can make them save money on yet another gift for yet another aunt.
Invest in Visual Merchandising
The emotional shopping component reaches new levels during the holidays: don’t neglect visual merchandising and make sure to set the right festive mood through holiday-inspired product settings and decorations. They will both inspire your in-store customers and attract passersby to come in, with the sweet promise of the perfect gift. Curate window displays and indoor product displays alike, playing with wintery decorations that enhance and enrich the goods on the shelves.
Think about creating unique experiences for your clients, something that can increase their time in-store and make them want to suggest your boutique to friends and family.
Make an Editorial and Social Media Plan
From September until the end of the year things to communicate will be many— from gift guides and new products to promotions, behind-the-scenes, and special events. Plan your communication ahead of time and work on an editorial calendar that can cover all your most important channels: in-store banners and flyers, newsletters, online ads, and social media. Planning all seasonal initiatives will give you plenty of time to develop and schedule your marketing content for the best possible results.
And when it comes to social media, don’t be afraid to get creative and share raw, honest content. Instagram it’s the perfect channel to put your customers in the mood for some holiday shopping and show your best festive side. Share videos of what goes on behind the doors, involve your staff, take pretty pictures of your holiday display, and create footage of customers coming in and out. It’s all part of telling your unique story.
Revise Your Shipping and Return Policy
Holiday gifting calls for short delivery windows and clear return policies: you want your customers to easily know if they can get their gifts on time and whether any wrong choice can be returned. Revise your shipping and return policy for both offline and online orders, making sure they’re as flexible as possible to meet your clients’ needs while also supporting your business.
Another idea to consider is to offer in-store pick-up for all the items pre-purchased online. This will allow the local clients with not much time on their hands to buy and pay online from the comfort of their own couch, and quickly pick up their orders in-store with minimal fuss and no time spent in queue.
Make Gift Wrapping a Thing
Gift wrapping will be an extra but essential part of your store sales, and a way to expand your marketing effort even beyond the purchase. How you wrap your products says a lot about your store style: the care you put into wrapping a gift can really enhance your customers’ experience and make them want to come back for more; at the same time, it can make the gift receiver inspired and curious to know more about your store. It’s a win-win situation.
Make sure to curate a specific style of gift wrapping for the entire holiday season, training your staff into mastering it, and possibly having a dedicated gift wrapping station to make the process as smooth as possible when many customers are in the store.
Set Up Gift Cards
If you don’t have a gift card option available yet, create one before the start of the holiday season— gift cards are the answer to any undecided client who’s not sure what to buy for that not-so-close friend/relative/neighbor/colleague. Set up a few budget options to give clients enough choice and create clear guidelines on usage and validity. If you have an online store, allow your customers to spend their gift cards both online and offline for an even better customer experience.
Engage Loyal Customers
Our bonus tip concerns the most important people of all: loyal and returning customers. You surely have clients that have grown fond of your boutique over the years, and the holiday season is the perfect moment to reward them and show them your gratitude. Think about a little gift, a dedicated discount, or a special in-store event— you know them better than anyone, so you will know how to surprise them.
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