Columnists Bob Epstein Tis’ the season to plan early for increased holiday sales

Tis’ the season to plan early for increased holiday sales

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If there was ever a time to start planning for the upcoming holiday shopping season, it’s now. Planning ahead is like giving a gift to yourself, and one that will surely increase your chances of making sure it’s a really nice one. It once was a given that holiday sales meant big sale increases. Now, however, competition and the strain on disposable income have made it more difficult to generate big increases in sales without big reductions in margins.

Getting an early start in your holiday planning is the best way to assure a profitable holiday season, made all the more challenging during uncertain economic times. The following are a few suggestions to give a wrap to your holiday sales plan:

  • Research current sales trends to identify what the “hot” items are this year. Talk to your vendors to see what the top sellers are. Is there a popular new design? Ask your current customers and business associates for ideas; research the Internet to find top sellers. After you determine what may be the best selling products, look at your inventory and make sure your stock is adequate to fulfill the demand.
  • Don’t overextend yourself with open to buy dollars once you determine your needs. Prepare a sale budget and stay true to the numbers when you make your purchases.
  • Look at past results to determine who your audience really is. This will help you in creating a marketing plan to ensure that you reach the intended target.
  • Are you currently using social media to market your store? If not, you’re missing a significant resource for reaching your audience through word of mouth, endorsements, networking and referrals. Social media is a great way to keep your customers informed of in store specials, new products and special promotions. The use of social media is increasing tremendously with consumers and every retailer needs to investigate the possibility of creating sites. Most of the social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are free and easy to use, but they have to be managed in order to be current and fresh. All that takes time, so be sure you designate who’s in charge of monitoring those channels and oversee it with care.
  • Offer pre-holiday promotions. Try to entice your customers to shop early and get a jump on your competition. Invite customers into your store early to see new products to give them more time to plan their holiday purchases.
  • Offer a wish list and then invite spouses or significant others in to shop on “their” night over refreshments and a festive atmosphere to engage and entice buyers.
  • Plan for special promotions that don’t just involve discounting. Offer free gift wrapping, easy return or exchange policies for the holidays, layaways, or get creative and have several fun events at your location.
  • Prepare the store for the holiday rush. Make sure you have enough packaging, boxes, gift wrap, etc. Plan for extended holiday hours, and make sure you have adequate staffing levels during heavy traffic hours.
  • Review your budget. Plan for extra costs such as additional shipping, advertising, payroll and security, as shoplifting and theft typically increase during the holiday season.

As we all know, the holiday shopping season is very stressful and so important for the bottom line. Preparing ahead of time will help to eliminate some of the stress and ensure you get to plan your own celebration when it’s over. That’s when you get to go home with the best present in the house - a profitable bottom line.

Bob Epstein is CEO of Silverman Consultants, LLC. Offering a legacy in sales strategies for jewelers since 1945, Silverman Consultants provides guidance to store owners seeking to turn around a business, sell off unwanted inventory, or liquidate an entire store. With offices located in Charleston, South Carolina; New York, New York; and Saskatoon, Canada; the company helps jewelry store owners and chains formulate strategies designed to maximize revenue in times of transition, whether due to retirement, store closing, or simply when needing a boost in sales. For more information, visit www.silvermanconsultants.com or call Bob direct at 800-347-1500.

 
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