December 25, 2012
If you are looking to delight customers this Christmas and holiday season, it is never too late. In fact, your small business can carve out a competitive advantage simply by doing the small things that your competitors may overlook.
Here are five simple ways to spread Christmas cheer to your customers — today and through the New Year:
1. Pay close attention to store policies.
Make sure your store policies are up-to-date; including information regarding your holiday hours, returns and exchanges and how customers can best facilitate the process. Paying attention to the front-end sales process is essential, but don’t forget to ensure that your customer’s have a pleasant post-sale experience as well.
2. Move inventory using creative selling techniques.
Do you need to unload merchandise asap? If you have inventory or services to move through the end of the year, look for ways to tap into the power of your existing client base. Extend seasonal and holiday promotions and merchandise your products and services online and offline.
Ensure that your sales, marketing, and visual merchandising are in sync for the remainder of the year – clearly communicating your value proposition and product focus areas. And remember, whatever the margin is following the holiday, it can be that much lower next week and the week after when holiday traffic stops.
3. Review your post-Christmas game plan.
Let the after Christmas sales begin! December 26th, the day after Christmas, is a big day for offline and online retailers. You can expect an influx of customers due to returns, exchanges and gift recipients eager to redeem gift cards or spend holiday cash.
For instance, if your brick-and-mortar shop plans to open early, or offer exclusive sales incentives communicate early with targeted email promotions and online marketing tactics. Lastly, ensure your staffing plans are designed to ensure coverage during peak hours following Christmas and through the New Year.
4. Make it easy for customers to do business with you.
How easy is it for customers to return or exchange merchandise at your place of business? Do you charge a percentage of the price for “restocking” an item that is returned for refund or credit. If so, ensure that you have disclosed the fee in print advertising, promotional materials and your website. Did you offer price-match guarantees? If so, make sure they are enforced.
Also decide up-front how you will manage post-holiday shoppers without receipts and those with warranties and service inquiries. Make the experience as seamless as possible.
5. Ensure your sales staff is proactive and knowledgeable.
There’s nothing worse (in a consumers mind) than unhelpful sales personnel that appear to be on autopilot with one unredeeming response to basic store and product questions, “I don’t know.” Make sure these words are never uttered. If by chance, a member of your team is not up-to-speed, educate them on the best way to handle customer inquiries and present proactive options instead of disinterested responses.
Connect with Erica Nicole on Twitter.
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