Summer is Holiday Prep Time for Small Retailers

Just because you are a small retailer doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan ahead! Now’s the time to get a jumpstart on planning for a successful (and profitable!) holiday season.

Men, especially, shop in places they wouldn’t otherwise go, and will take the advice of a sales person (“Why yes, this gift DOES need this [add-on]”) if it means they can finish their shopping then and there. You want shoppers to be crossing names off their lists in your store, so make it as easy as possible for them to do so!

Here are some tips to help you through the busy time:

Make sure you are adequately staffed.
Not just enough people to work the registers, but you need people on the floor to sell to customers. If you hire part-time or temporary workers, have them at the registers while your more seasoned staff work the floor, to not only answer questions but to engage the customer and SELL. They shouldn’t be asking, “Do you have any questions?” Instead, “Whom are you shopping for?” gives a much better opportunity to give suggestions.

Make sure your staff is well trained.
Especially if you have part-time or temporary holiday help, make sure your staff is trained. Your staff should know how to handle shoplifters, and be knowledgeable about the products you carry and how to up sell. Good customer service is key at this time of year, so be sure they know they can (and will) go above and beyond to make the customer’s experience a great one.

Items already boxed become no-brainers because the customer can then immediately check that person off their shopping list. Stock up with products in boxes well in advance. Also make sure you have plenty of gift boxes, and don’t just ask the customer if they want a box while they are being rung up at the register. Have your staff on the floor show the customer the gift in the box so they can see what a great gift it will make. Why do you think Sears puts a screwdriver in a box during the holidays? Because once boxed, voila, all of a sudden it’s now a present.

Keep your shelves well stocked.
Keep your shelves well stocked, especially during the busy times. Small retailers usually use the slow times to re-stock the shelves, but this can make your products seem picked over during the busy times (even if you still have plenty in the back). Keep a steady stream of (small) boxes of product coming from the back to keep the shelves, well, stocked.


Here are some tips for organizing ahead of time:

Make sure the physical preparations of your retail space are organized far in advance. You should have all the decorations you might need, as well as any changes to the layout already prepared, so when it comes time to change things it can occur quickly and efficiently.

Have your advertising and marketing planned out in enough time to be sure you can meet deadlines for any publications you may want to be included in. Now is not the time to scrimp on your advertising budget!

Organize your personal life, too. Not to sound too much like your mother, but if you keep your own stress to a minimum at this busy time, it will make the season go by much more smoothly for you and everyone at the store. Less stress = more holiday spirit, and we could all use more of that. Even in August.





Content for Reprint: Holiday Retail Tips
Microsoft Small Business: 5 Mistakes that Ruin Holiday Sales
Microsoft Small Business: Get Ready for the Holidays


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