Retailers top tips for preparing for Christmas

As the festive shopping season gets into full swing, the tills will be ringing and millions of clicks made online. Last year, UK sales totalled £77.6 billion over Christmas, according to the Centre for Retail Research [S1], so it’s vital you’re well prepared for a flood of orders.

Consumers across the country have their wallets and purses at the ready, looking for the perfect opportunities to spend their hard-earned cash on gifts, food and decorations.

We’ve compiled some top tips to help you have a very merry festive period.

Plan staffing requirements

Although footfall can be difficult to predict, it’s not unreasonable to expect that you’ll receive more orders and inquiries from customers in the run-up to Christmas. That means you may need to hire temporary staff to answer calls, emails and track orders as the normal daily workload increases.

Another thing to consider is that your existing staff will want to use up the remainder of their annual holiday entitlement in December as well as take some extra time off over Christmas to spend with their families.

Take a multi-channel approach

Online Christmas sales were up by 19% in 2016 compared with the previous year [S2], and that figure is expected to keep on rising.

With more customers using their smartphones and tablets to shop, the best prepared retailers this Christmas will be multi-channel, having both a presence online and a bricks and mortar store.

As the e-commerce space becomes more competitive, you need to put in place measures to make web transactions as seamless as possible, with fast payment solutions, same-day deliveries and click-and-collect services available.

Stock up on bestselling products

If supply can’t keep up with demand, you could lose out on sales, severely denting your profits. What’s more, customers may be put off from returning to your store in the future if they find that the item they want to order is out of stock.

Too much stock, on the other hand, can also harm your bottom line if money is tied up in slow-moving products or you need to pay for extra warehouse space.

If you’re unsure what’s hot and what’s not this Christmas, it’s worth keeping an eye on social media to see which products everyone is talking about.

Devise a Christmas marketing plan

Make sure you have a strategy in place to offer promotions at certain key points of the festive period, with social media campaigns to run alongside them. In the past few years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become massive events in the UK, and shoppers will be keeping a keen eye out for bargains, so you may want to use the occasion to offer your own incentives.

In 2016, Britons spent a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase of 15% on the previous year [S3]. This year, Black Friday falls on November 24, with Cyber Monday on November 27.

Create a personalised shopping experience

Thanks to the use of data analytics, it’s now possible to offer a more personalised shopping experience both in-store and online. It’s a more hi-tech version of a time when the local corner shop owner knew all their customers and could offer them deals tailored to their individual likes and needs.

This approach could include loyalty schemes and individual tokens. Or you could invite your most loyal customers to a special shopping night before Christmas to give them a more stress-free and bespoke retail experience.

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