The year is 2020 and Covid-19 has impacted businesses in a big way. Many businesses are looking to restore their sales and increase activity this holiday season. There are many innovative ways to increase your sales while remaining safe and following Covid guidelines and mandates. Here are some ideas for increasing your sales this year while keeping your customers and employees safe!
Make shopping safe this season
With the coronavirus pandemic playing a huge part in this year’s retail shopping trends, the holiday season will feel very different this year. Gone are the days of crowds and lines for Black Friday. Gone are the huge exclusive sales events. Online holiday shopping has been increasing every year, and this year will likely skyrocket that trend.
Shoppers who are worried about Covid-19 exposure may choose alternative methods of shopping, like delivery and curbside pickup. Shoppers who want to visit stores will be looking for a safe shopping experience.
Ensure that your store is up to date with recommendations for Covid-19 protection. If you haven’t already set up your store for social distancing and minimal contact, you want to do so now before the holiday rush! Ensure that your employees are kept safe as well. Many stores have already installed plexiglass barriers for their employees as additional protection. Be sure to make your shopping guidelines and policies clear to your customers so that there is no confusion.
Optimize your website
As many shoppers will be browsing for gifts online this holiday season, it is extremely important that your website is up to date and has current listings of your products or services. If you are selling products, you should make sure your webstore is easy to browse, has a functioning search bar, and has updated inventory. Shoppers want to know if they can have items delivered, or if they are in-stock at a local store so they can come pick them up quickly with minimal contact. Double check your displayed opening hours, location info, and holiday closure info as well.
Offering curbside pickup will be a must this year, so it’s important to allow customers to place orders for pickup online. This requires an up to date inventory management system and dedicated employees to gather pickup orders promptly. Give customers the choice of curbside service or in-store pickup. Online order pickup not only gets people through your doors, but it’s been proven to increase in-store sales as well. Research has shown about 45% of those who have opted for in-store pickup bought something else during their trip to the store.
Prepare your inventory
One of the worst faux pas during the holiday season is to constantly run out of inventory, especially on really popular gift items. Customers will get frustrated and start shopping your competition if they can’t find their desired items in-stock at your store or website. Inventory issues are an important way to make or break customer loyalty.
Be sure to forecast your demand for products based on last year’s holiday season. Look at your inventory turn over rates and expect them to be much higher during the holiday season than other months. Order extra inventory and do it early to avoid last minute rushes. Avoiding out of stock products will keep your customers happy and will increase the likelihood of them returning to your store.
If you have a tight budget this year due to COVID related matters, analyze your sales carefully to predict what your most important best selling items will be, so you know where to allocate your budget.
Have strong in-store visuals and displays
To encourage safe shopping this season, your visual displays and signage will be very important. Make sure that your customers are able to easily find the items they are looking for from the moment they enter your store. Arrange your store items in easy to find groups with proper labelling. On your website, be sure to organize your categories and products with user experience in mind.
In-store visual displays can help holiday shoppers find gifts for their loved ones. Often people don’t know what to get another person and in-store gift displays featuring ideas and popular items can help them choose.
Additionally, thoughtfully designed packaging strengthens your branding. Offer your customers packaging that is ready to be gifted to save them the time and hassle of buying their own packaging. Adding gift packaging as an optional upcharge, or for free, can help improve your relationship with customers. You can either order custom branded packaging made for your retail and e-commerce needs, or buy stock packaging to use unbranded. You can also create your own stickers and labels to customize your packaging on a tighter budget.
Streamline the shopping experience
Make sure that the shopping experience is smooth and easy for your customers. All of the Covid-related restrictions and guidelines may increase stress for shoppers. As these are necessary, you have to adapt to the circumstances.
Provide excellent customer service with employees who are well-trained on your products and procedures. Ensure that your store is adequately staffed so customers aren’t waiting long for help. Mobile phone or iPad checkout scanners can be helpful to have in case additional checkout points are needed.
Offer a loyalty program or communication discounts
Offering sales and coupons can get people to spend more money. But you also want to give customers the incentive to return to your store again. Always try to get the email or phone number of your customers so that you can send them exclusive subscriber discounts and coupons. You can also set up a loyalty program where shoppers earn points or rewards for their purchases.
Referral systems are also a great way to gain new customers through authentic word of mouth. Keeping most of your coupons and discounts exclusive to your subscribers or loyalty program members helps encourage your customers to keep in touch with your brand.
Promote up-sells and add-on items
The most obvious way to boost your sales during the holiday season is to sell more! Most up-sell items should be low cost and shouldn’t be so expensive that they deter customers. Gift cards are always a great up-sell option, as they can be gifted or used by the purchaser later.
Giving away a reward or incentive with purchases can help increase your up-sell conversion rate. If you offer a free gift or a discount over a certain dollar amount, some small up-sell gift items could help your customer reach that threshold.
Use signs and positioning to advertise low cost up-sell items. Something like a “$10 and under” gift products display can help shoppers find quick gifts or stocking stuffers. Gift packaging is also a great up-sell option for retailers, especially during the holiday season. Offering inexpensive gift packaging is a convenience to your customers and can help boost your sales.
Use in-store returns as an opportunity
The most returns happen just after the holidays, when people are returning unneeded gift items. Whether the person returning is a gift-giver or gift-recipient, it’s essential to make the return process quick, easy, and positive. When a gift-recipient brings in a return, you have a great opportunity to guide them to a product they might like better.
Stay Safe This Holiday Season!
We are all looking forward to the day when life feels normal again. For now, we are all trying to make the best of the circumstances and adapting to the changes needed. Making the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable for your customers is what will keep them coming back through good times and bad!