How to master seasonal occasions for your convenience store
When it comes to seasonal events - such as Christmas and Halloween, Eid and Easter - there’s no better, more exciting, and more difficult space to be in than the retail industry. Whether it’s trading clothing, food, decorations or, indeed, those all-important seasonal gifts, event-based retail is a high point for high street selling. And the same goes for online trade too, with months October through December taking a whopping 32% of all yearly online sales, according to Mintel in 2013.
As that number inevitably continues to grow, how can the UK’s independent convenience stores make sure that they’re still cashing in on seasonal events when up against the feats of both the online world and that of their larger competitors?
This week we discuss how convenience store owners can work to overcome seasonal difficulty by planning ahead, knowing your stock and having some fun along the way:
Flaunt Your Wares
Now, this may come off as obvious but your stock and its layout within your store can have a massive impact on levels of footfall, potential sales and customer retention. And there are many simple, cost-effective ways to tailor this to seasonal events.
If it’s Christmas, set up a display holding exclusive seasonal products, put up decorations and hook up a speaker system to play festive songs; giving your shop a friendly, personal touch and encouraging your customers to think ‘IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAS!’. You could always consider wearing costumes too; not only a fun, morale-building activity for your staff but also a great way to show off your potential wares, if you deal in holiday-clad that is. If it’s Halloween, do the same! But keep the festivity in check. Don’t want to scare your customers from buying their daily groceries.
By being creative and open-minded there’s a whole bunch of ways in which you can surprise new and existing customers, just remember to keep it to a budget and make sure your staff are informed. When it comes to the stock itself, do make sure to purchase seasonal goods as it’ll give the final oomph to your holiday display and the perfect boon for potential buyers. And try sticking any surplus stock by the tills to get that little extra from impulse buyers – perseverance through clearance.
Seasonal events are all fun and games until you realise you’ve forgotten that one gift for that one family member who’s name you can’t quite remember. The same can be said for retail, where planning is imperative when it comes to event-based selling and promotion.
So, be vigilant, check your stats, and make sure to monitor popular sales patterns.
You can do this using analytic tools such as Google Trends to research what sold well in previous years and using this data to accurately estimate the impending demand of festive shopping. Based on trending patterns and the popularity of seasonal keywords researched online, Google Trends can highlight products that are in demand, collating customer queries such as ‘where can I find cheap flowers’ or ‘the best budget gift boxes on the market’.
Another way to monitor sales trends can be via your EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) system, viewing the collected data from past years and using it to determine what should be brought back for this year’s seasonal event. This will also work towards combatting ‘dead stock’ and oversaturated promotion as by having a knowledge of what sells and when it sells best you’ll be able to estimate how much stock you should buy, when to promote it, and when to put it out for sale. After all, no one appreciates when Easter eggs replace Christmas moments after New Year’s.
Retail Think Tank (RTT) cite Martin Hayward, Founder of Hayward Strategy and Futures, who agrees that planning is the best strategy to combat the seasonal onslaught, stating that the “challenge for many retailers is that their promotional activity is scheduled months in advance and centrally controlled, giving little leeway for local spontaneous activity and therefore creating a rather dull and very predictable event calendar”.
So, be calm, collected and creative, and have a little fun along the way. After all, RTT customers continue to insist that “innovation, imagination and an emotional connection” are the main avenues for “reinvigorating growth from retail events”.
If these endeavours seem a little too much bang for your buck, perhaps, consider taking out a cash advance to support your business development. Liberis can offer you just the ticket and you’ll only make repayments when your customers pay you.
Bahzad Yad, owner of Quick Stop Food and Wine (QSFW), a convenience store in South London, was struggling to compete against the volume and variety of products sold in the larger supermarkets in his area. But in early 2016, after receiving a letter from Liberis, Bahzad decided to give us a shot, using our funding solution to invest in the variety of goods sold at QSFW, as well as replacing a broken fridge and refurbishing the entire store with new lighting.
“When I’m buying stock, there are often special offers that I can’t afford to miss - especially in the run-up to busy holidays like Easter. Having access to finance allows me to buy more stock at better prices, and helps me to stand out with a wider variety of products on sale.” Just one of the ways Liberis can support your independent business!