Every year, the holidays seem to creep up on us even faster. For many businesses, the holiday shopping season is what makes the difference from falling into the red and sailing into the black.
Three of the most notable shopping days for retailers are Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This block is the busiest and most profitable time for any retailer.
The time to prepare your business for these mega-shopping days is right now. You don’t want to put your planning off until October or November. Other businesses, especially the big box and mall stores, have begun planning for the upcoming holiday shopping season at the beginning of the year (if not sooner). So don’t let yourself get left behind.
Let’s look at the steps you need to take in order to get the most from the shopping holidays this year.
1. Do your own thing. You don’t need to compete with the retailers who are amped up for one big giant holiday. Why not run your own version of a pre-holiday sale weeks ahead of time and even give it an anti Black Friday or shop local twist. (Shop local is one of the great themes of Small Business Saturday as well.)
Create an event that features your local theme and maybe get a dozen or so other local stores to pitch in and pay for musicians and entertainers to liven up the event.
Work with other merchants to create special offers and deals based on Foursquare check ins. Create a scavenger hunt and offer prizes for people that visit all the hunt locations.
2. Get exclusive. Plan a private event that is only open to your customers. Create online tickets that must claimed in order to get into the event. Let them invite one friend or ask them to “Like” your Facebook page to get the ticket code.
Create a series of e-mails that promotes special attractions, new products and details of the private sale. On the day of the sale paper over your store windows and put up a big sign informing all that your “private” sale is going on. Limit the number of attendees and make sure you have some great deals, great food and great ideas to share. Get your employees involved and let them invite family and friends as well.
3. Prepare your customers now. Start planting the seeds for any special promotions, sales and offers in your customers’ minds early. Get your advertising planned and ready. Create teaser campaigns for new items that will be available only during the big shopping weekend. If you can offer free gift wrapping or free shipping, start letting customers know early so they can keep you in mind when it’s time to shop.
Nothing can sway online shoppers to choose you over a competitor quite like the promise of free shipping, so if it’s something you can swing, even if just for the weekend, do it.
Start sending out e-mails to your current customers to give them a “sneak peak” at what you’ll be offering during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday promotions. Serious shoppers start to make their own preparations for holiday shopping weeks and even months in advance, so make sure you are getting your voice out there.
Before you know it, the holiday shopping season is going to be here. You want your store to be prepared to run smoothly, your staff to be trained and ready, and your customers to be eager for your offers.
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