Using Seasonal Occasions to Boost Your Sales 30/01/2015 Tips & Advice Retailers are more than aware that Christmas is the time of year when sales can really soar (Office of National Statistics). Shopping for special seasonal products goes beyond Christmas though. There are opportunities to drive up average spend and participation for seasonal occasions such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, etc. Google Trends can be used to analyse the volume of recent specific search items which is a fantastic way to plan ahead and gain an edge on your competitors. Once you’ve identified the variation points in your company’s sales cycle the next step is to attribute them. For example, the clothing retail industry is well known for having big sales each year in January so, we can attribute the increase in traffic to the January sales. Using this information to forecast (assuming the sales continue as before) we need to ensure business plans take this into account and harness consumers in the best possible way. So how can we capitalise on seasonal trends and transform them into point of sale resulting in purchase? Season 4 Sale Being switched on and aware of seasonal trends can be a key advantage for your business. So how do you convert sales and send them soaring? Data shows that Mother’s Day and Easter are the most celebrated holidays after Christmas (93%). Capitalising on these seasonal occasions can boost sales. Whilst consumer confidence can reflect seasons, it is important to keep an eye on data demonstrating downward trends in the business environment. The confederation of British Industry (CBI) is an insightful database demonstrating these trends. “A trend can be your friend!” Things to consider: Age of your customer 25-34 year-olds are the most enthusiastic shoppers, meaning they are more likely to be buying products for calendar events. Those with children are also more likely to be shopping across virtually all seasonal events. Therefore you have two options: Cater to the young-family demographic encouraging them to spend a little more Make an effort to attract older consumers and those without families into your store by addressing adult to adult gifts Good Old-Fashioned Customer Service Recent research suggests consumers care about experience. In fact, the rise of quick-service formats and automated service has driven a greater desire for good old-fashioned face-to-face customer service. Seasonal occasions provide opportunities for store based retailers facing competition from online-only rivals by simply making their shops destinations. Therefore seasonally-themed ranges, merchandising and in-store events can provide shoppers with reasons to visit your store. Consistent Sales Messages Ensure your sales message is apparent throughout all of your platforms in order to adopt correlation between channels, stores and the promotional message. Use Google Trends to discover the latest buzzwords and trends! This could mean analyse your seasonal keywords such as ‘Free Easter bunny when you spend over £10’, or ‘free Christmas gift’. These phrases influence your customers’ buying decisions. It may help to look at the previous year’s data in the run up to seasonal occasions in order to determine which keywords increased conversations and activity. Social Media Don’t miss the boat promoting your social media accounts and including them into your sales message. Once you’ve established a presence you can announce your new products and promotions through your channels. Making your communications more personal makes the use of social media more meaningful to consumers. Today, it’s as important to have purpose online as it is offline with over half of the UK’s population now owning a Facebook account (statista.com) and Instagram growing faster than Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest combined. Additionally, encouraging consumers to share their positive experiences or recent purchases expands your network of followers resulting in a greater awareness of your offerings. Under pressure with customer service. Seasonal occasions mean happy customers, but this also means demanding customers. How can you best deal with demand at busy times? Plan ahead Maximising sales during busy periods is an obvious objective but this is unachievable if you do not plan in advance. Understanding how seasonality affects your business is key. Reviewing your previous years’ cash flow and staff resources are just two important aspects to consider. If you're finding, year on year, that your cash flow struggles to stretch over the quieter periods between seasonal booms, you may want to consider seeking a Small Business Loan to keep you going. Liberis provide Business Cash Advances that work in line with your cash flow, so you can patch up those thinner periods and not worry about late repayments - check your eligibility with our online Calculator now. Stock levels It goes without saying seasonal occasions place pressure on supply and demand. Use your figures from last year to determine when the best time is for you to bring in new stock or bring out old stock. It’s essential to have a system in place that avoids dangerous stock levels. Top tip: Do not put your staff and customers at risk by overstocking and blocking fire exits and escape routes with excess stock. Opening hours Ensure your opening hours are efficient for both your staff’s needs but also your customers. If you feel the need to be open late at night as well as early in the morning ensure you have considered shift work or split shifts for yourself and your staff. Support your staff You may be expecting your staff to work longer hours during busy times. Make sure your expectations are clear to avoid unhappy staff. Sharing your own time management with your team will encourage them and make them feel like they can approach you if they’re struggling with their workload. Keep an eye on your team during busy periods as they could experience stressful times. Encourage them to take regular breaks outside of the workplace so they can recharge and come back full of energy! Listen to your customers It can be instinct to defend your business and your staff when subjected to criticism. However your first priority should be to put yourself into a customer service mind-set and set aside any feelings you might have. Listen actively to what your customer or client has to say and resist the temptation to solve the situation straight away even if they are eager for answers. Body language is extremely important as it can influence a customer’s perception of your business. This stands for all employees, think about how your nonverbal communications reflect you and your business. Upsell and cross-sell The last three months of the year account for 29% of annual retail sales (Mintel, 2014). Take advantage of this with up-sell and cross-selling techniques. Offering additional services around seasonal occasions will entice consumers presenting the opportunity to upsell product related promotions. Research suggests seasonal occasions have a tendency to creep up on even the most diligent and organised individuals meaning upselling something as simple as gift cards for both men and women is a great way to prepare.