Christmas 2019 Planning: How Retailers Can Prepare for the Busiest Season

How to thrive during the biggest retail season

Australians spent more than $51.5 billion across retail stores during the Christmas trading period in 2018 (1), a 2.9% increase on 2017.

Last year, 72% of consumers primarily shopped at a physical store for Christmas gifts, but mobile is on the rise (2). By 2020, it’s predicted that 1 in 10 items will be bought online (3). So, in order to set yourself up for the most successful festive season possible, a holistic omni-channel strategy needs to be developed well in advance. You need to identify what areas you plan to compete on and how to ensure you do this profitably.

The planning for this needs to start at least mid-way through the year to ensure:

  • Your promotional activities have plenty of time to be mobilised and to gain frequency & reach - most shoppers will start their Christmas planning as early as October so campaigns need to be operational by then
  • Your team have time and the right systems and processes setup across your stores and overall business operation
  • You’ve built out programs to turn newly acquired customers into high-lifetime value relationships into the new year and beyond

In a recent blog ‘How To Bring Seasonal Event Shoppers Into Your Retail Store’, we discussed the key success factors behind the activation of retail occasions in-store. Here, we’ll taking a deeper dive into Christmas to help set you up for the best festive season yet...

1) Appropriately plan assortment and inventory

Selecting the right assortment and forecasting inventory accurately for Christmas reduces the risk of overstocking and then having to deal with excess product that usually requires markdowns on Boxing Day and into the new year. On the flip-side, it will also help to avoid understocking which results in lost sales. Accurate inventory control is essential to maintain a healthy profit margin, particularly if you are a bricks-and-clicks retailer.

An advanced Retail Inventory Management System can provide you with the data and processes needed to accurately forecast Christmas inventory. With Retail Express, optimum inventory can be easily calculated and replenished using advanced algorithms and analytics to ensure the right products are available to customers in the right stores.

2) Arm your team with knowledge

One of the biggest challenges over Christmas is staffing. Ensuring you have the right number of staff available during busy periods and extended hours is vital to avoid keeping your customers waiting. According to a recent study by BookingBug, 44.7% of US consumers said it was important to speak with someone during their final purchase decision. Knowledgeable, well-trained sales associates were the differentiating factor for boomers; 62.7% said this was valuable when choosing one business over another. As there are likely to be new casual staff over Christmas, it’s important to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.

Retail Express POS uses an advanced, easy-to-use product search system, allowing less experienced staff to find a suitable solution for customers. At Christmas time especially, there are a number of opportunities to up-sell, cross-sell and offer alternative products, which can significantly increase average profit per transaction. With an advanced Retail Management System like Retail Express in place, cross-sell and up-sell product recommendations are automated, providing the team with the right tools they need to deliver a great in-store experience for your customers and maximise margins.

3) Prepare your marketing & promotional activities

Planning Christmas campaigns early can ensure you have highly personalised and effective messages, that fit seamlessly with your broader marketing initiatives. With Retail Express, customers can be incentivised to provide a detailed profile both online and in-store.

This enables effective targeted marketing campaigns, greater visibility of engagement, and increased cross-channel purchasing. The more attributes you can use to segment your database, the more effective the campaigns and communications will be. If there’s a loyalty program in place, gift vouchers and bonus points can be activated to drive repeat visits and referrals.

4) Get your post-Christmas customer growth programs ready

During the Christmas period, it's likely many new customers have bought from you, and January is a great time to nurture these customers into ongoing, profitable relationships. There are a wide range of initiatives that can be introduced throughout the customer journey, which can be found in our How to Build an Existing Customer Growth & Loyalty Program blog.

Planning early for Christmas can help optimise sales, and create new customer relationships into the new year. Retail Express is an advanced Retail Management System that can help eliminate issues during the festive trading period and ensure a smooth, easy and seamless experience for your customers.

Sources:

  1. Roy Morgan, 208 Christmas retail sales grow 2.9% to $51.5 billion
  2. PwC, Retail & Consumer Market Insights Quarter 1, 2018
  3. Australia Post, Inside Australian Online Shopping: 2018 eCommerce Industry Paper
  4. Inside Retail, Retailers expect to see higher sales this Christmas

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