The average American will spend $700 during the holiday season on gifts, decorations, and food and supplies to entertain their friends, according to the National Retail Federation. That totals to around $465 billion, up 4% from 2018. If your customers aren’t spending with you, they’re spending with someone else. Below are some tips for how you can maximize your sales this holiday season.
While most retailers start preparing for the holiday season in late summer, it’s not too late to make a few changes that can dramatically increase your holiday sales.
1. Reward your best customers
The holiday season is a great time to let your loyal customers know how much you appreciate them. This could include inviting them to an exclusive customer appreciation day open house with food and beverages, where they can shop without the crowds. You might also offer this group a discount if they spend a certain amount or purchase particular products that you’re trying to move. Maybe you want to reward them with a gift certificate for giving you referrals. Whatever you decide to offer, remember that it’s much less expensive to keep your existing customers than to prospect and find new customers.
The holiday season is a great time to cross-sell. That means promoting products that coordinate or compliment the products your customer is buying. For example, if he or she is purchasing cookware, you could promote your line of spices, or if the customer is looking at a winter coat, you could suggest a hat and glove set. If you remember what your best customers purchased last year, you could even reach out and suggest a coordinating item, such as calling the husband who purchased earrings for his wife last year and suggesting a matching necklace or ring. You are 60% to 70% more likely to sell to an existing customer than to someone who hasn’t already done business with you.
3. Launch an email marketing campaign
Contrary to what you may have heard, email has not been replaced by text messaging and social media. It might surprise you to know that 58% of the American population checks their email box first in the morning before social media pages, news sites, or other electronic options. In fact, email marketing has one of the highest engagement rates: an average of 22.86% of emails are opened. That compares to a less than 6% engagement rate for social media.
Unlike other types of digital marketing, email marketing can be personalized and segmented. This means you can target specific customer groups, such as those who have spent more than $200 already this year or those who have browsed your website but haven’t purchased anything yet.
4. Expand your market to include other countries
Forbes magazine reports that 80% of online retailers who sold their products globally expanded their businesses in 2016. That trend continues. If you hadn’t considered expanding your company’s reach, now is the time. The magazine advises adding one country at a time, so that you can educate yourself and your employees about shipping costs and customs requirements. They also suggest checking out package-forwarding services that allow you to ship to a US address and have the package shipped from there for a fee. This type of arrangement is particularly popular in areas with limited postal service, such as the Caribbean and the South Pacific.
5. Offer (and promote) gift certificates
Maybe you offer a service rather than a product, and think that the holiday season doesn’t really apply to you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just because you own a body shop, hair salon, or HVAC company doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t like to receive a gift of your services to be used at a later date. That’s where gift certificates can be invaluable. Gift certificates are easy for the purchaser, can be mailed easily, and make great stocking stuffers.
Don’t wait for customers to ask if you have gift certificates. Be proactive. Promote them on your social media pages, via email, and with an in-store display. Of course, make sure to have plenty in stock and have your staff trained on how to sell (and redeem) them.
Just a few statistics to keep in mind: virtually all Americans (93%) have given a gift certificate or gift card at some point in their lives, and consumers spend an average of 38% over the value of the gift card when they redeem it.
The holiday season, roughly defined as the period between mid-November and the end of the year, can make or break a small business. Make sure that your company is getting its share of this potentially lucrative time of year by connecting with your best customers, promoting gift certificates, and looking for new ways to expand your market to include buyers in other countries.