The secret to silly season success is planning.
Indeed, ensuring your offline and online operations are ready for the retail onslaught will be the difference between sailing through this busiest time of the year or struggling every step of the way.
So, what are some of the easiest ways to make sure your Christmas goes like clockwork and your figurative stocking is as full as it can be? Read on to find out.
Prepare for Christmas retail.
This time of year is like no other, so you need to ensure your store has ticked every box. Here’s how to plan for some smoothness in your silly season.
- Extra staff - you will need additional feet on the floor, but you’ll probably need extra hands on the keyboard, too. Make sure you get the right team to cater to the upsurge in customers. Ensure they’re familiar with as much of the business as possible before the rush starts. What’s going to be busy? There will be more shoppers in-store and online, so make sure you have faces out on the floor and a team servicing emails, social media enquiries, and phone calls - the works.
- Multiple payment options - never make it hard for the customer to give you their money! Provide as many payment channels as possible; cash, PayPal and Credit Card are old school and expected. Think beyond the traditional and into the realms of Apple Pay and Google Pay. Cater to everyone.
- Anticipate delivery delays - it’s safer to assume nothing will ship in time rather than hope it will all work out. So don’t post tomorrow what can be posted today!
- Free shipping - In short, consumers expect it. It’s worth just diving into this, and your competition likely will be. This one is a no-brainer.
- Promote a final purchase cut-off day. Considering our previous point about anticipating delays, make sure you heavily promote a deadline date for all purchases to be fulfilled this side of Christmas. It not only helps keep things organised but generates a sense of urgency - the customer will feel compelled to buy now rather than wait.
- Extended hours - you’re going to work longer hours, for sure. Why not promote the fact and make yourself as attractive as possible to customers who can’t always come during conventional business hours? Besides, consumers expect extended retail hours this time of year.
Above all - the customer experience is key.
Customer service is the most crucial pillar in retail, so accentuate it during the Christmas season. People are going to be frazzled, anxious and tired. So be their beacon that cuts through all that negativity and is the ray of light they need this time of year. Work to personalise as much of their journey as possible. Make them feel extra special. This is such a powerful time of year to lay the foundations for customer loyalty in the months that follow.
Data is your friend during Christmas.
Data is your friend any time of year, sure, but it comes home to roost in the lead up to the festive season. Check your records to see what sold well last year. Review analytics to see what is attracting significant search volumes. If you’re part of the BikeExchange marketplace, speak to us about big data and what customers are doing across the board. Use these insights to make important decisions about what you will stock and what should go on sale when.
Christmas digital catalogue
Create a Christmas digital catalogue landing page. Use that data we mentioned earlier to determine what you will promote. Think about the best way to group things. Something for Mum, something for Dad, something for the Kids? Or is it better to drive this by price - gifts under 50, under 100, under 500?
Update your online product listings
Why not stand out from the pack and shoot festive images for your product listings? Get into the spirit of things! Remember, however, to condense images (tinyjpeg works a treat) and name them appropriately for SEO. Why not extend the merriment and apply it to your home page design, email template, social media template, etc.? Sprinkle elf dust everywhere!
If you’ve got a database of customers (and potential customers), make the most of it and start your Christmas marketing early. Maybe you could be extra creative and apply innovative ideas such as an Advent Calendar (special deals for the days leading up to Christmas)? Perhaps Social Santa could offer exclusive database deals in the lead-up? Think of fun ways to make your emails stand out from the hundreds of others in circulation, particularly this time of year. Open an account with Canva and create your Christmas skewed graphic designs - it’s fast, free and perfect for anyone who considers themselves artistically challenged!
Make sure everything you do is promoted across all your social media platforms. Keep the momentum so that you’re top-of-mind.
This is a big one. Make sure you heavily promote offline and online vouchers. Think about ways to make them as interesting as possible - perhaps they come complete with a quirky online Christmas card? Don’t impose too many restrictions by way of expiry dates and other conditions - you don’t want to scare non-bike buyers away from making purchases for their bike-mad loved ones.
Gift wrapping and charity support
Even a bike can be wrapped, so there’s no excuse. Why not think about offering a gift-wrapping service - using recycled paper, of course - with all funds going to a charity? Indeed, the charity themselves might be willing to come in for a window of time and wrap for free in return for customer donations. This is an excellent opportunity to spread goodwill and help others out.
Speaking of helping others out, who else in your area is working to make the most of Christmas? Is there a local brewery that would go down a treat with your customers? Maybe a charity is organising a special fruit cake or shortbread drive? See how you might be able to either combine some special deals or even make a purchase yourself so you can add some shortbread or larger treats to those VIP purchases.
Think about upselling and consider creating seasonal bundles. Socks with shoes. A base-layer bundle. A kids bike and helmet combination. Spare tubes? Run your numbers and see what you can afford to partner together that is lucrative for you and feels like a great deal to the customer.
Dial-up in-store atmosphere
Use your products innovatively to give the store a unique Christmas flare and promote what you’re selling. The obvious one here is bike lights - turn them into garlands of festive lighting. Bike wheels hanging with decorations from the local kids' school could also be a lot of fun. A wreath made from bike chains - you get the idea. Go crazy! But just remember that Christmas carols can be polarising. Indeed, a quarter of British shoppers actively dislike seasonal music cheer, so perhaps play sparingly or just now and again!
A special Santa appearance
The big man has to make an entry at some point, right? So why not make a big deal about it. Get him on an indoor trainer and have him ready to pose for funny photos with customers. Spread the good vibes and make your store a lot of fun to be in.
Christmas social ride
It’s flat out, sure, but make time for the customer. A Christmas social ride is an ideal way to do this. Consider quirky touches such as reindeer antlers for helmets. Then, put on a special brunch back at the shop, perhaps incorporate as many of the above ideas as possible (shortbread, Santa appearance, festive decorations) and use this as an opportunity to thank all your loyal customers from the year.
Be the elf who saves Christmas.
It’s not just the lead up to the 25th that counts. Boxing Day and beyond could be an opportunity for your store to make extra sales. Consider a tongue-in-cheek campaign offering a Christmas emergency service for those who didn’t get what they wanted under the tree. Let them know their sweet spot lies in your store, and it’s available now at a discount. Bring some Christmas cheer back into their lives after that disappointing socks-and-jocks set they got in their sad little stocking.