The National Retail Federation (NRF) has come out with a report where they suggest that retail sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) will increase 3.7 percent, well above the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Great News! But you have to be asking, “How can I cash in on the optimism?”

One of the best ways to help increase your sales during the holiday season is to be prepared. Do you have the right stock? Do you know how to get the right customers walking through the doors? And, are your employees ready to handle the rush and still offer the same level of customer service your customers expect?

We’ve put together a list of five things you can do now to help ensure a great holiday season.

  1. Act now. One of the best things to do is start your planning early. Look at last year’s sales and see what worked and what didn’t? Make changes now. Create a marketing calendar and set a budget for the entire holiday season. Leave no stone unturned, so you can connect with your desired audience. Offer sales, special loyalty nights for your best customers and coupons on future purchases to reward the customers who came in and encourage them to return to use the coupon.
  2. Be ready. You’ll want to prep your staff for the rush of both old and new customers. Your returning customers know your level of customer service, so you want to meet or exceed that - even during this busy time. You’ll want those customers to return after the holiday rush, if they have a bad experience they may take their business elsewhere. First impressions are important, so offering first-rate customer service to new customers will not only help you during the rush, but hopefully after when they need something and return to your store. Also, it’s been reported that 81 percent of consumers search online before making a purchase. That means both your website and social media channels need to be as up-to-date as possible.
  3. Happy returns. Acquiring a new customer can cost as much as 10 times more than retaining an existing one. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense to focus a specific amount of your marketing budget to returning customers. Send those loyal customers personalized emails, invite them to special events — anything to keep the conversation open and your store top of mind as they head out to shop.
  4. Attract new customers. Discounts are one of the easiest ways to get a new customer through the door. Advertise those offers in the local paper, holiday supplements and a targeted direct mail campaign. This might be the perfect time to align yourself with a local organization or charity to increase your business’s exposure.
  5. Check the results. When it’s all said and done, it is time to review what went right and what didn’t. Use this valuable information to make changes for the next holiday rush. If your stock room is overflowing, you might want to have a post-holiday sale and promote it to both old and newly acquired customers.

Preparing early can be the difference between a great and not-so-great holiday season. Map out your strategies and communicate them to your staff so that you can minimize stress and have a great holiday season.

Contact NAB today and see how easy it is to get the merchant services you deserve.

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