“Retailers Locked In Game of “Chicken” With Shoppers Since Black Friday” – How To Act NowDecember 10, 2014 10:04 am
It seems there’s one major topic trending in retail news over the past week, and that’s the vigorous game of “chicken” currently undergoing between customers and retailers around the globe as a result of massive discounts dished out by retailers last Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Industry experts are predicting that customers are planning to hold out longer than ever before in the hope of nabbing even further bargains on their Christmas shopping, deeming retailers their own “worst enemy” for giving shoppers a taste for huge discounting, making them reluctant to buy anything at full price.
So right now it seems the retailer and the bargain-hunter are going head to head like two characters in a classic Western shootout, guns at the ready (pricing guns and credit cards that is) holding out to see who’s brave enough to make the first move.
With discounts of up to 70% being given out by big-name favourites such as John Lewis, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer last week, who could honestly blame customers for playing a little hard to get!
If you’re one of the many retailers on the verge of cutting prices by 30 and 40 per cent because Christmas targets aren’t being met, put down the sale stickers for a second and take a breather. Hitting the panic button by offering deeper-than-planned promos mightn’t the smartest move just yet.
Industry expectations are that shoppers will hold out as late as a week or two before Christmas to carry on with their festive purchases, so retailers can expect a big increase in footfall from the second weekend in December onward (now you can all exhale a little).
5 Tips to Maximise Your Christmas Turnover
1. Play the Waiting Game
It’s inevitable that retailers will have to discount at some point to match competitor’s bargains, however discounting too soon is not only bad for margins, it also detracts from the exclusivity of your best Christmas sales.
So keep your pricing gun on lockdown for as long as you possibly can.
- Keep a close eye on competitors: If you see them slashing their prices, take this as your starting gun.
2. Plan ahead
What stock is hardest to sell?
Look at what sold well last year and what didn’t. Setting your pricing from previous sale experience is a strategic way to minimise loss.
What do you need to get rid of quickly?
Consider what winter/Christmas products you need to shift by January to make way for new stock; these should be top of your clearance list.
Are your marketing strategies ready to go?
Ideally, you should have all your marketing/advertising weaponry ready to go live at the click of a button to get a head start on rivalling campaigns.
3. Shout SALE From the Rooftops!
Great sales are a dime a dozen at this time of year so effective marketing is crucial.
Integrating as many offline and online marketing approaches as possible will get shoppers spreading word of your sale to friends, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles; choose at least 5 of the following media to promote your sale and you could be hiring a queue monitor before you know it.
- Mobile marketing
- E-mail marketing
- Social media advertising
- Website advertising
- Direct mail
4. Extended Trading Hours
It might seem like the most obvious strategy, but extending your opening hours a little later than competitors’ can make a huge difference in the weeks and days building up to Christmas.
Making Christmas shopping easy for your customers should be top of your to-do list, and as we all know too well, last minute Christmas panic can set in at any time of the day or night so try to accommodate last minute stragglers as much as possible.
If a customer’s lying in bed the night before Christmas Eve suddenly remembering they forgot to buy for their mother-in-law; the sheer relief of finding a store open at 11:30pm could mean you’ve just gained a new loyal customer for life.
5. Post-Christmas Sale
Your post-Christmas sale is your final chance to aggressively clear out Christmas stock, last season’s products and any general out-dated items you need to clear quickly to make a fresh start for the New Year.
3 effective tips for a quick Christmas clearance:
1. Create Unique Offers
What special propositions can you offer your customers to set yourself apart from competing retailers?
Here are just a couple of examples that could suit your store:
- First 20 customers in the door receive an additional X% off
- Discount codes, mobile coupons, “show this text” discounts
- Goodwill gestures – “Spend X amount and we’ll donate X to charity”
- In-store food/drink tastings
The importance of Christmas marketing can’t be stressed enough, but just as importantly you want your sale to sound exclusive to create a sense of urgency in customers and drive your sales as quickly as possible. Advertising with “limitations” can heighten the hype surrounding your sale; you can then extend sale periods if targets aren’t met.
- “One Day Sale Extravaganza”
- “Limited Stock”
- “One Week Only”
3. If at first you don’t succeed…
…Mark it down again!
If you start your markdown off on a low percentage for the first week, for example 30%, and find it very difficult to get rid of sale items, increase markdown to 50% for the second week and so on until all your clearance items are bought.
Now then, I’ll let you all get back to that game of Chicken…
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