Handful of Holiday Tips
There is always a lot riding on the Holiday
Season, and this one is no exception. The most profitable retailers
will be those that set themselves up to be successful during the
pre-holiday ramp up.
We now have
two stores on Kauai, and this past year has been one of challenges
and triumphs. The opening of our second store in July went very
smoothly at first, but has since run into a perpetual staffing shortfall.
We also had issues with training and employee attitude that have
been a reminder that our employees are the face of the company.
With this in
mind, here are some things that we are doing to ensure this Holiday
will go smoothly and be profitable.
We do this with our products, our pricing and our staff. The products
we carry in our stores are, for the most part, the items we sell
on our wholesale site. In the neighborhood where our original store
is located, there are three import stores and a bead shop, plus
several gift stores. Although the products we carry, beads, jewelry,
accessories and home decor, are available in one form or another
from several of our competitors, no one has a product that is exactly
similar. We also tend to have a wider selection, especially in terms
of beads and jewelry.
Our niche is
products that are rich, exotic, funky and hip. We also purposely
hold our prices down. Other stores in our neighborhood typically
have prices that are 25% higher than ours (this is part of their
differentiation strategy). Customers comment almost every day that
our products are priced well. We may miss out on some revenue here
or there, but the lasting impression is that we offer great value.
staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The friendly part
comes by hiring people with an outgoing personality. The helpful
and knowledgeable parts come with experience and good training.
We also teach them to handle customer complaints, and empower them
to make decisions on their own regarding returns or discounts on
damaged goods in the event no manager is available. About 90% of
the time they make the right decision, and the other 10% of the
time we chalk it up to a learning experience.
We have had great success with in-store promotions and with frequent
buyer cards. I plan a promotion each month that lasts from three
to ten days. Having a promotion for an extended period allows customers
to come back for more and to spread the word.
This year we
are starting the Holiday season off with a 20% off sale over Thanksgiving
weekend. ItÕs not a huge discount, but it should make our customers
happy and give them a reason to visit the store.
Our second store
is in a mall, and many of the other retailers like MacyÕs and Sears
will be having sales that weekend.
If you donÕt offer gift certificates, you are not participating
in an important category of gift giving. They donÕt cost much to
set up (several companies offer inexpensive, imprinted gift cards
or certificates) and they will keep customers coming to your store
well into the new year.
Customers have lots of choices. I want to keep our stores near the
front of people's minds. There is no way to compete with the ad
blitz of heavies like Macy's or Nordstrom, but well placed ads don't
cost much and they go a long way.
We do display
ads in our local newspaper, some radio, and refer customers to our
website. I always look for deals, and our local media outlets always
seem to have specials on package deals. In November we have two
full page, full color ads in special inserts of our local paper.
I also bought some radio that was priced right as a monthly package.
If you are like me, you hate to wait in line. There is a coffee
place near my shop that always has a line. About half the time I
am unwilling to wait in the line while the lone employee does her
best to keep up.
weekend, we will be ramping up our staff so that two people are
always on the floor through Christmas. During the year we run with
a single employee during off-peak hours, but I don't want customers
to leave because they feel neglected or are unable to get help with
staffing will cost a little more, but overall I expect it to pay
off with satisfied customers, increased sales and a store that looks
nice and is well-stocked.
By Mike McGinnis
Whirled Planet, Inc.