Congratulations—you’ve (almost) made it through the 2022 Holiday Season! If the season was a cigar, you’d be well into the head of things. Similar to premium hand-crafted cigars, the holiday season is filled with complexities, but if proper planning and execution was instilled, you’re now getting to the best part—not only for that cigar you’re smoking, but more importantly, for your retail business.
So, what now? While you’ll soon be closing out the busiest time of year for your store, you can keep the sales going and beat the post-holiday blues with a few simple yet effective tips.
1. It’s normal to see a decline in shopping
As a business owner, you never want to see a drop in spending, but this is the nature of things following the holidays, and experiencing a slowdown is expected.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumers are driven to shop—Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Free Shipping Day…the list goes on and on, and this doesn’t even include the endless list of seemingly sporadic sales being advertised to consumers 24/7 throughout the last few months of the year. By the time the season ends, shoppers are quite literally exhausted. So, if your small business experiences a sudden drop, just remember, this is completely normal.
2. Ensure your website is up to snuff
You likely already reviewed and revamped your website in advance of the season to entice customers and ensure it would keep up with the extra traffic throughout the holidays. Now that the season is nearing an end, this is a great time to again review everything, making sure any expired promotions are removed, adding in new post-holiday discounts and specials, and making sure your site passes speed and load tests.
3. Stay engaged with customers
By the time the holiday season ends, two things have happened: (1) people have been conditioned over the past several weeks to check emails, texts and social media messages more often for sales and discounts; and (2) those messages about sales and discounts have significantly decreased, or will in the coming days.
As a brick-and-mortar retailer, you now have a great opportunity and a small window of time to capitalize on the situation. Send out thoughtful messages highlighting new products and discounts, and personalize them whenever possible. For repeat customers, promote products they have previously purchased or products that align with their specific tastes.
When it comes to your communications, keep in mind that messaging can only go so far without a healthy contact list. At checkout, always ask if they’d like to be included on your email list for promotions, etc. If someone made the decision to come into your store and make a purchase, whether it was one time or 100 times, they are a customer. If they had a good experience and continue hearing from you, they’ll most likely return.
4. Plan for next season
At the close of the holiday season, you as a retailer get another gift—the gift of information. You have new customers with new emails and contact information and lots of new data to glean insights from. Review all your marketing and advertising efforts and see which campaigns yielded good results and which were less profitable. Were there any emails that generated stronger sales or foot traffic than others? Did any particular day or time of day work well? Which social posts performed best? Which promotions met or exceeded your goals, and which failed? Did certain campaigns resonate stronger with different age groups? Analyze everything now so you can plan for the 2023 holiday season using all the knowledge and data you’ve just collected.
In addition to analyzing the marketing data, this is also a great time to review other critical business aspects. Take an audit of your POS, inventory management, credit card processing, and any other systems you need and use to operate your business. If any of them disappointed or failed to deliver, now is the time to start exploring other options so you can make changes/additions well in advance of next year’s holiday season.
5. Develop your marketing strategy for the New Year
While many retailers slow down or even take a complete break from marketing in January, this opens a window of opportunity for you. In addition to launching new campaigns to incentivize customers now, this is a great time to analyze your efforts over the past few months and year as a whole and begin planning out the year ahead.
While a good marketing plan leaves room for adjustments over time, having a base plan with key promotions and dates will go a long way toward helping you reach your goals, stay on budget, and maximize your time and effort. And with more big holidays coming in Q1 (the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, to name a couple), there’s no time to waste if you want to make the most of 2023.
6. Stay on top of social media
Similar to overall marketing, retailers often go a little silent on social media after the holidays. BIG MISTAKE. Engaging with existing and potential customers on social media after the holidays can be incredibly rewarding for your business. Ask customers to post photos and reviews of your products and business using your hashtag and social media handle. When they do, re-share that content and be sure to thank them. They’re marketing your brand free of charge, and who can argue with that?
Another important aspect to consider is the lack of motivation or “post-holiday blues” many people experience after the festivities have ended. You can capitalize on this by boosting your social media presence and marketing. Incentivize people to come into your establishment and help them get excited again with new sales and promos.
7. Adjust inventory
Getting your store inventory-ready before the holidays was no easy task, and despite your best efforts you may have experienced sales slumps that resulted in excess inventory. If that’s the case, now is the time to clear the shelves to make room for new products.
There are several methods for clearing out inventory:
- Bundle items together or offer Buy One, Get One (BOGO) sales.
- Offer deep discounts on products that cannot be bundled.
- If you have way too much of one item, consider offering it as a free gift with purchase to customers who spend a certain amount or are part of a loyalty program.
Clearing out the old inventory opens up space for new products, and when you combine that with a good marketing and promotion strategy, you’ll be setting your business up to be a money-making machine! Not only will this help you maximize your profits, but it’s also a great way to keep your customers excited for what’s to come and engaged with your business year-round.
8. Launch new sales, discounts, giveaways, promos
While many have done the bulk of their shopping during the season, post-holiday sales are still a thing. Some shoppers will be coming in to redeem a gift card they received, while others may simply be seeking out the stress-free environment your cigar lounge is known for, especially after the anxiety of the holiday season. Whatever their motivation, give them a little more by incentivizing their visit. Consider offering free delivery, discounts on holiday-related products, or even waiving membership or locker fees. And when it comes to marketing your sale or promotion, be sure to tease it out well in advance through email, social media, your website, and even SMS. Not only will this generate awareness and get more shoppers back into your store, it will also give people something to look forward to during the long drag of January.
Just be cautious of offering discounts that blow your holiday promos out of the water—nobody wants to learn that they overspent on something they could have gotten for less if they’d waited a few days.
9. Amplify the customer experience
Greet everyone who comes through the door. While you likely amplified the customer experience during the holidays, keeping this going after the season ends is essential to building and maintaining long-term relationships. When greeting customers, be sure to tell them about any specials you’re running. This will entice them to look around a bit more and keep your promotion top of mind while they browse.
Even if someone is coming in to return or exchange something, still mention your sale. On average, one in three customers won’t pass up a sale, even if they walked in with no intention of spending.
10. Adjust your pricing strategy
Determining optimal pricing is incredibly challenging for most business owners, especially after the holiday season. However, now that the season has ended, you have more information to work with. Which strategies proved most and least effective over the past few months? What did your top competitors do over the holidays and how successful were their strategies?
By taking the time to dig into things a bit more, you may find that you can offer your products at a slightly higher price without losing customers, thus helping you generate increased revenue in the new year.
The end of the holiday season doesn’t mean an end to sales. While consumers as a whole spend less immediately after the holidays, there are several ways you can make the most of this time of year and continue getting customers through your doors. Take advantage of reduced engagement from other businesses by boosting your own. Use the extra time to strategize for the year ahead. Analyze the data and insights you just gained to save time and plan for a stronger 2023.
While it’s tempting to take a hiatus at the end of the year, doing so is a missed opportunity. Spending even a little time now to review, analyze and plan will give you a stronger roadmap for long-term performance and help increase your prospects for future success.