Small retailers look forward to the holiday season with joy (to the world). There is Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Shops and cash registers are full. Business booms for those months leading up to Christmas, but after every boom comes the inevitable lull. The months of February and March are normally painfully slow as consumers try to recover from their holiday spending sprees.
As a retailer, you need to look at these slow months as an opportunity to try new things rather than just coasting by. Your bank account is full. Now is the time to be aggressive and expand your customer base. It’s time to play on that good will and turn new customers into repeat customers. Here are a few tips for sustaining that holiday rush well into the spring and summer.
Build Your Brand
New customers mean an expanded brand identity. If you are a small business, Holiday sales are a great way to grow your market share, but you need to capitalize on that expanded brand awareness and establish yourself as a trusted, local business. You need to use the months following the holidays to become more active in your community. Make sure you use some of the holiday revenue to increase public good will.
Evaluate Your Advertising Plan
Print advertising is expensive. You can often get more bang for your buck by using non-traditional advertising mediums such as Groupon or small, free advertising circulars rather than magazine, TV or newspaper ads. This is also a time to experiment with social media marketing in forums like Facebook and Twitter.
Focus on Customer Service
Big box stores are seen by the general public as faceless corporations that offer great deals. As a small business, it’s difficult to compete with these corporations in terms of price, but you can beat them with quality customer service. Be prepared to go that extra mile. Experiment with incentive programs, little extras and customer loyalty programs.
Play Around with Your Product Mix and Pricing
Slow periods are great times to bring in new items and try out new pricing structures. During the rush, everything works. It’s during the slow times that you can really get an idea for what your loyal customers are buying. Don’t be afraid to pull some items off the shelves in favor of a new item that is more or less expensive. Keep a detailed record to determine how this new product mix is doing.
Improve Your Online and Real World Curb Appeal
You have employees sitting around doing nothing; give them a job. Redo the interior and exterior of your retail space. Now is the time to experiment with customer flow patterns. Buy a few books about retail psychology and see how they work in your market. Do the same for your online presence. Dress up your store’s webpage and make a commitment to integrating social media marketing into your overall marketing plan.
Make Payments Easy
Most transactions are done using a credit card or debit card and incorporating the ability to accept credit cards using a smartphone is one way to boost your overall sales. Imagine if every person on your sales floor had the ability to accept credit cards on iPhone or iPad. This definitely relieves the bottleneck at the cash register and improves the chances of making a quick up-sale. Mobile payments are the future. You should use the slow months to integrate mobile payments into your business and train your employees in this new technology. Don’t let the post-Holiday doldrums get you down. Look at this slow period as a time to improve your business and position yourself to take advantage of the Spring and Summer months.