Retail

The six basic things retailers need to do to boost Christmas trade

Brian Walker /

While we are all busy hanging our stockings and trimming our trees, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of Christmas and forget the simple retail essentials.

Up to 30% of many retailers’ yearly sales are made in this period, so it is essential to maximise your retail offer to market and have the right team and the right processes in place to succeed.

As we have predicted, trading results for this Christmas are looking strong with the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) Christmas Retail Index indicating that shoppers will spend more than $8.7 billion in the week leading up to Christmas. And in these final days, the following business fitness tips will help you keep focused on the essentials to make the most of peak Christmas trade.

1. Customer Service

Increased foot traffic in your store is no excuse to reduce the level of customer service that your customers have come to expect. More people shop at Christmas time than any other time of year and ensuring you provide great service to this captive shopping market will set you up for success for the rest of the year. Reduce the non-service tasks and maximise every minute of sales and service time by completing administrative tasks outside of open hours and keeping the shop floor for sales and service only.

2. Staffing for success

Rosters need to change to correctly reflect the changing trading hours and shopping patterns so that your staff to customer ratio is consistent and effective. If your key people are not on the shop floor when traffic is at its highest, you will not maximise your sales potential. Play to your team’s strengths and make sure you have your ‘gun’ salespeople on the floor selling and those that are quick on the register processing the sales. In your busiest stores, place a greeter on the door to welcome and farewell; this is a great security measure as well as being good service practice.

3. Visual merchandising

Great visual merchandising displays and layouts are a retailer’s best friend and silent salesperson in the busy Christmas period. Make it easy for your customers to find the gifts they are looking for by using adjacencies to assist with the upsell. Put belts on/with pants, bags with shoes, phones and appliances with their accessories, etc, so that the merchandising is upselling for you. Ensure your customers can navigate your store logically and easily, so consider trolleys, prams, wheelchairs, etc, in your store layouts to ensure traffic flows smoothly.

4. Stock

There are few things more frustrating than finally identifying the perfect gift only to find its out of stock. It is essential to make sure you have the stock on hand to back up your catalogue products, advertising promotions and window displays. Each morning/evening, do stock level checks and refills to make sure you have the day’s stock needs covered. Efficient processes for product replenishment on key product lines should be in place by now, but be aware of lead times on back-up stock and place orders in time to avoid customer disappointment and hence missed sales opportunities.

5. Plan for the worst

Ensure you have a plan of attack should things get tricky. Make sure you have good IT support and manual processes are understood by staff just in case (touch wood!) your systems decide to go on a Christmas hiatus in the middle of peak trade. With party season in full swing, there are bound to be more than a few post-party ‘sick’ days occurring. Make sure you have back-up staff plans to support your busiest stores. This is not the time to be short on staff.

6. Celebrate!

Don’t forget to have fun this festive season. Have fun with festive uniforms and merchandising and create a fun, unique and memorable experience for your customers that will give them reason to return in the new year.

To our customers, past present and future, our friends at SmartCompany and Private Media, the retail community and to all our readers, we wish you a very successful and “Fit” Christmas and New Year trading.

We look forward to seeing you next year and contributing to even more business fitness, including our next Retail Doctor Group ‘Fit for Business’ Breakfast in March 2014, where we are pleased to announce that Peter Birtles, CEO of Super Retail Group, will join us as our keynote speaker.

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Brian Walker

Brian Walker is founder and chief executive of retail consulting and advisory company, Retail Doctor Group and the Australian elected member of the global retail expert's alliance Ebeltoft Group.

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