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Pre-Holiday Retail Checklist: Part 1

Are you ready to get ready for Holiday 2013? Time’s a wastin’! That old saying, “Retail is in the details” is never truer than it is during the holidays. Those details… including dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s… may not seem so important when the thermometer reads 75, but they make all the difference in the world when you have a store-full of impatient shoppers on December 15th.
Ready to make your Holiday 2013 Things to Do List? Let’s go!
1.  Plan your holiday in-store events. This is not an option. You need to host at least one major and one to two minor events every week in November and December. And you need to do something to thrill shoppers on Black Friday, as well as Small Business Saturday. Type “event ideas” in the search box above and you’ll find lots of great ideas or visit JingleBellsChristmasSells.com for a copy of retail expert’s Kizer & Bender’s  holiday planning e-book with Australia’s Debra Templar that’s loaded with event ideas and fully customizable templates.
2.  Hire seasonal staff. You can teach people how to work with customers, but you can’t teach nice, so choose your temp staff with care. This is the time of year when testy shoppers get well, even testier. Commit to a training schedule, and partner each new hire with a seasoned associate who can mentor them throughout their holiday employment.
Hold a meeting with your mentors before the new hires arrive; you’ll need to explain the program, and your expectations. This meeting will also alert you to training needs you may have not been aware of that need to be addressed with everyone on your team.
3.  Cover the basics.
* Repair, repaint, and replace everything on your To-Do list now, you want everything crossed-off the list by mid-October. You don’t need the hassle of replacing the valve in the ladies room toilet a week before Christmas.
* Take a physical inventory of your never out” store supplies, the things that would be an absolute disaster if you ran out of them on a busy Saturday. Bags and gift certificates top the list, but even toilet paper is important.
* Create your Top 10 Lists of Not-to-be-Missed Holiday Gifts that are available from your store. Do your lists by product category, age, gender – whatever makes sense and will help you sell more product. Every staffer needs to know what’s on it so they can make smart gift recommendations. Have plenty of copies on hand and place them throughout the store. Feature your lists on your website, social medias, in your newsletter, and on bag stuffers. Make it easy for non-quilters to buy the perfect gift this year!
* Be prepared on December 26 with a plan to clear leftover holiday products. Decide what needs to be marked down, how much it will be discounted (hint: the first markdown should be the deepest), and how it will displayed on the sales floor.
* Determine how you will handle customer returns. Make sure that your customer-friendly return/exchange policy is clearly posted in the store, behind the cash wrap, and on your website. You may also want to include it in the not-so-fine print on your holiday bag-stuffers. If holiday sales are brisk in your store you may also want to decide now where and how returns will be processed: at the cash wrap or on a separate table?
* Nuke the auto-response, “Would you like your money back?” Instead, ask the customers if she’d like to look around for something else, or maybe she’d prefer a gift card. You’ll save more sales that way, but if she insists on a refund, then give her one with a smile. You want these customers to come back and shop with you again.
Curious what else you need to do to get holiday ready? Be sure to check back, as Part 2 will be available soon!
Contributed by Kizer & Bender, internationally recognized speakers, authors and consumer anthropologists. Known for their timely retail advice and expert insight on consumer behavior, Kizer & Bender first published this article on their blog, Retail Adventures. To learn more about Kizer & Bender, as well as gain from their extensive collection of retail articles, visit www.RetailAdventuresBlog.com
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

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