Preparing Your Retail Store for the Holidays
There you are, decking your retail space with colored lights, spraying fake snow on your windows and playing holiday music 24-7. Yes, the most wonderful time of the year is here.
What makes it wonderful? If all goes well, the lion’s share of your annual profits will be dumped on you like a heavy snowfall. But, as the man who invented Christmas (Charles Dickens) said in another context, it’s also the worst of times, because anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Here are some tips for getting through the holidays with cheer to spare:
1. Safety & Security - Keep your store safe and security in the background as much as possible (since nobody likes a holiday buzzkill). Make sure that your aisles are slip-proof and things that might go into little mouths are placed on the higher shelves. Place cameras discreetly in public areas and let customers know it’s for their safety. Add a bag station for “customer’s convenience” at the front of the store. Also, when you are hiring extra help to ease traffic flow, background checks are always a good idea.
2. Basic Marketing Plan - Your store should have two front windows: One in the real world and one online, and you should have a unified marketing strategy. Send out tweets about your specials while having a person in front of the store, welcoming foot traffic with cider and other holiday treats. Make sure your Guest Wi-Fi is working, because you’ll want to feature the Best Customer Instagram of the Day and other contests.
3. Community Involvement. The holidays are the best time to show community spirit, because there is so much to do. Have a table outside the store for charitable donations or a charity gift-wrapping station inside the store. Sponsor a fun-run or a holiday meal at the senior center or elsewhere. To be really fancy, band with your fellow retailers and host a Holiday Market street fair that’s themed on the Christmas Markets of Europe.
4. Santa on Staff. If you decide to provide a Santa, a certified Santa will have training, a background check and (hopefully) carry his own liability insurance. As Santa Tim Connaghan, “National Santa” and owner of the largest Santa job board, RealSantas.com, puts it, “A child slips off your knee, trips over your boots, chokes on a candy cane or cookie, stares at you while walking by and trips over another child! All of these have been grounds for lawsuits.”
5. Inventory Protection - While your customers and employees are mostly honest, there are always a few bad apples. According to the 2016 Retail Holiday Season Global Forecast published by Checkpoint Systems, seasonal shoplifting accounts for 37% of your national annual “shrinkage” loss. Considering that, a discreet and courteous security person is a welcome – and possibly money-saving – amenity.
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