There may only be a few days remaining until Christmas, but every retailer knows that these are the busiest days of the festive season.
As a small business, it’s a great opportunity to capture new custom from shoppers who crave the convenience of shops on their doorstep, or who want something different or unique to the items available through chain stores.
Maximising last minute Christmas shopping opportunities relies on your business being able to stimulate, and respond to, customer demand – here are a few tips to make sure you’re on the ‘nice list’.
Social media is one of Santa’s little helpers
We’re always preaching the values of social media for small businesses, because it’s a highly affordable way to spread your message, quickly, to a large volume of relevant people. At peak trading times, such as Christmas, it’s a really effective channel for communicating special offers, new stock or even letting potential customers know that items are selling fast.
If you’re on Twitter, do some research and see if there are any nearby companies selling complimentary products, or organisations promoting independent businesses in your area. They may be able to retweet your messages to a wider follower base.
Create an atmosphere of convenience
Many of the shoppers that walk through your door will be in a hurry; they have a million things to do before the big day, and need to pop in for a forgotten item or an extra gift.
To convert as many sales as possible, your service needs to be quick, with no long queuing times. One way to speed up transactions at the checkout is to offer chip and PIN card payments – you could even temporarily add an extra terminal if you already have one card machine in use.
Contactless is the quickest technology for processing payments, particularly if your customer’s average basket size is less than the current £30 spending limit.
Spread some Christmas cheer
Another reason shoppers avoid major chain stores during the pre-Christmas rush is the crowds and chaos. This is your opportunity to offer them an oasis of calm, and help them get into the festive spirit!
Think of some ways to make the atmosphere pleasant in your store; ask staff to wear their favourite Christmas jumpers, offer complimentary nibbles whilst customers are queuing, even arrange a visit from Father Christmas himself. Arranging a special event is a good way to drive traffic to your store during quieter periods of the day, steering consumers away from peak times.
Don’t forget, the happier the customer, the more likely they are to purchase something or spend a little bit more with you.
Share a wish list
If you want to take it one step further and proactively encourage shoppers to visit your store, and you’ve got a list of customer email addresses, why not send them a gift guide to your best-selling stock still available to buy.
This will not only bring more people through your door; it will draw attention to high value or large volume products that you may want to push through before the January sales begin.
Make sure everyone knows your opening hours
This might sound like an obvious point to end our top tips on, but displaying your festive opening hours in your window – and emailing it out to your customers if you have a mailing list – can make all the difference to last minute activity.
Given that current trading laws are less restrictive for stores with a footprint of less than 3,000 square feet, you’d be surprised how often a small business can come to the rescue of a desperate parent, or help a boyfriend dodge the doghouse!
What are your last minute festive trading tips for SMEs? Tweet @RMScardpayments to share your advice.