The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year for retailers who have a solid plan to implement different ideas to increase sales. eMarketer predicts that ecommerce sales will soar to 16.6% and the total retail sales will increase by 3.1% during the 2017 holiday season. The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts a higher increase of total sales between 3.6% and 4%. With a spike in sales predicted both online and offline, there’s a lot at stake in terms of profits for retailers during the holidays.
Here are seven ideas that go beyond simple price slashing to maximize the perfect combination of eager buyers who are ready to spend, spend, spend.
1. Use proximity marketing.
Ninety three percent of Americans surveyed stated that they use their cell phones for shopping. Research by Deloitte found that there’s a likelihood of converting 59% of smartphone shoppers into customers. Retailers can use the proliferation of cell phones to not only up their online sales but also increase offline sales.
Take advantage of the fact that more people are spending time on their phones by using proximity or location-based marketing to increase foot traffic and sales in your physical store. Proximity marketing is a system that uses location technology to communicate directly with customers through their portable devices.
You can use proximity marketing to send your targeted message to people within a certain distance of your store. Create offers to entice shoppers who are already in the vicinity to come inside to choose a gift for a loved one or treat themselves. The main technologies used to deliver proximity marketing are:
- Beacon (or iBeacon), which is like a smart tracking system on cell phones. When customers enter a specific location or a shop where there’s an iBeacon transmitter, the phone is identified by the iBeacon. Retailers can alert cell phone owners to the latest offers in-store.
- Geofencing is similar to iBeacon. GPS coordinates are used to capture cell phone users’ location to find out how close they are to a store. Again, retailers can send messages to cell phones when they enter a specific area.
Macy’s, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s are just a few retailers that have had success with proximity marketing. You can use proximity marketing to send discount coupons, personalized offers or whatever you think will encourage shoppers to come into your store.
2. Develop a chatbot.
Inject some sci-fi-inspired artificial intelligence (AI) into your marketing campaign mix to increase sales during the holidays. Chatbots are programmed to interact with customers and replicate human conversation using AI.
Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products, David Marcus, stated in his keynote speech that two billion people use messenger every month and businesses are starting to take notice. According to Marcus, 20 million businesses already use messenger every month.
Sephora experienced an 11% increase in makeover bookings using Facebook messenger versus their other channels. The additional bookings have translated into more sales because clients who booked a makeover spend an average of $50 in-store. Scheduling appointments is more convenient since there are five fewer steps in making bookings through messenger than other channels.
Why not follow Sephora’s lead and allow your customers to book an in-store experience through a chatbot? You can also take inspiration from other retailers using chatbots, which include Tommy Hilfiger and H&M. Mastercard launched its Masterpass-enabled bots for FreshDirect, Subway and The Cheesecake Factory customers to order and checkout via Facebook messenger.
Facebook Messenger isn’t the only chatbot on the block. Slack is one of a growing number of companies to have a chatbot onboard. Slack’s Slackbot has teamed up with Taco Bell to create TACOBOT to enable customers to place orders quicker.
Chatbots are still a relatively new form of technology for retailers, but using them in a strategic way can expand your audience and grow your holiday sales. The key to using chatbots is to make it clear to users that they’re not talking to a real person. You also need to provide the functionality for users to contact a real person through a channel like LiveChat, if they need to.
3. Create email campaigns.
Despite stiff competition from social media, email marketing remains the number one way to build a connection with customers. McKinsey found that email is more than 40 times better at gaining customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. This is because 91% of all US consumers use email every day. The power of email is especially evident when it comes to B2C relationships. That’s great news for your holiday retail sales!
Send email newsletters to promote your holiday sale products and services. Create an email marketing campaign with automated newsletters scheduled to be sent over a given period. A daily email with different discounted products over the holiday season is a good idea. Make the offers time-sensitive to increase the chances of a sale.
Remember to stick to best practice when sending your emails to increase the open and click-through rates. According to HubSpot, personalized emails with the recipient’s name in the subject line have a higher click-through rate than those with no first name.
It should be your aim to keep growing your email list because it’s a very effective way to build a connection with your customers. Updating your email sign-up forms for the holidays is a great way to add new names to your list. Change the generic sign-up form copy to wording that lets your customers know they’ll be getting exclusive holiday deals when they subscribe to your email list.
4. Send holiday cards by direct mail.
Email marketing is very effective, but that doesn’t mean direct marketing is dead. MarketingSherpa states that direct mail is the third most-trusted advertising medium when customers contemplate making a purchase.
Sending a happy holiday card to your customers will be a way of differentiating your company from everyone else that sends email. You can use your holiday card as a warm-up for the details of your sales promotion that will follow a few days later. This helps to build relationships with your customers because you’re not always selling to them.
A holiday card can also contain a promotion like a coupon. Letting your customers know that you will be donating a share of sales to your favorite charity can help you increase your sales while your customers contribute to a good cause.
5. Start social media contests.
Given that 81% of Americans have a social media profile in 2017, social media marketing is a must-have for retailers who want to increase their sales during the holidays.
Targeting options make it easier to get your products in front of the right people. Before starting a holiday social media campaign, you should already be armed with research detailing where your ideal customers hang-out. With the choice of social media outlets growing by the day, it’s important to use the platforms that will get you the most bang for your buck.
One of the best ways to use social media to boost holiday sales is to run a contest.
Giveaways work well because:
- You’re offering value upfront
- They’re more likely to be shared
- They encourage user participation and interaction
- They help you gain visibility
The basics of running a contest is to give prize entries to people who have engaged with your company in the form of likes, shares, comments, mentions, etc.
T-Mobile’s 12 Days of Magenta Sweepstakes gave participants the chance to win different products, such as wireless speakers and smartphones. T-Mobile prompted customers to take part in the contest by asking how they would use different products. The contest was on-brand and provided an opportunity to showcase the variety of T-Mobile’s products.
6. Provide competitive delivery choices.
With e-tailers like Amazon offering one-day delivery, you really have to step-up your shipping game to make sales more likely during the holidays. Offering same-day delivery, guaranteed or free shipping can make the difference between your customers abandoning an online shopping cart and going forward with the sale.
According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report, free shipping is the number one option for customers checking out online. The report also found that amongst the survey respondents:
- 48% add extra items to the cart to qualify for free shipping
- 44% chose the slowest delivery time if shipping is free
- 41% search for free shipping promotional codes online
- 31% waited to buy for a free shipping offer
Free or faster shipping options will also enable you to increase sales from the last-minute holiday shopping crowd. Adding in-store pickups for online purchases is another way to create a positive connection between your customers online and offline experience. The increase of in-store foot traffic when customers come to collect their online orders increases the chances of impromptu purchases.
7. Host an in-store event.
Creating a buzz and good vibes in or around your store is a good idea that can increase holiday sales. Your in-store event can be as simple or as lavish as you wish. You can team up with other local businesses to host a sidewalk event, with each store displaying some enticing merchandise. Use punch cards that need to be stamped at every participating business for customers to be eligible to win a prize. The more interaction and engagement you can encourage at your event, the higher the likelihood of you making sales. Raffles are also a good way of encouraging shopper interaction.
Another idea for hosting an event to boost your holiday sales is to invite Santa. This is the perfect opportunity to get parents in-store for a photo opportunity for their kids. You can also hire a music band to play holiday songs. Serve candies and sweet treats at your event to create a relaxed atmosphere because people tend to spend more when they’re relaxed.
To ensure a good turnout, market your event early by using both online and offline channels. Some marketing tactics to promote your event include:
- Sending invites by email
- Handing out flyers
- Creating a banner for your store front
- Inviting people via a Facebook event invitation
You can also go further by drumming up PR for your event. Connect with your local radio and TV stations, newspapers and get in touch with bloggers in your field to promote your event. Also, think of partnering with a charity to add a philanthropic aspect to your event. Encourage your chosen charity to promote your event to their patrons.
After the event, use the photos to continue to promote your store. Share photos and video on social media and in your email newsletter. This is a great opportunity to thank those who attended and show the people who couldn’t make it what they’ve missed. Publicizing what a good time people had increases the chance of non-attendees coming to your next event. Continue to capitalize on your event by sending a second chance special offer of your holiday promotions to people who couldn’t attend.
With the variety of ways to increase sales during the holidays, it’s time to think outside of the ‘price reduction box.’ Most retailers will be slashing prices, so you’ll want to try out different ideas to stand out and increase sales this holiday. Of course, consumers love a bargain, but they’re also drawn to your store because of the experience you offer. Feel-good touches, like personalized emails and well-organized events, will go a long way in boosting the holiday feel-good factor and increasing your retail sales.
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