By Lisbeth Calandrino—When I worked in the flooring business, I had a love-hate relationship with the holidays. Business was going well and there was never time to shop until the last minute. By then the shops were empty and the fun was gone.
Instead of whining, I realized I could turn my store into a community center – a place where people gather. I thought, why not decorate every inch of the store, as well as the parking lot, and celebrate with my employees. We all became Secret Santas; it was so much fun. We also involved customers in the celebration.
The holiday season will be different this year, given the impact the pandemic has had – and continues to have – on indoor gatherings. This means that you have to be creative to make it special for your employees and your customers. Try to have a brainstorming session with everyone and come up with some fun holiday ideas. The pandemic has made many of us very cautious, so plan how to connect with customers who don’t come to the store.
Find community partners. Who can you involve in building your hub? If you’re in a mall, I suggest you talk to the mall owners and determine how much space you can use. You may not be able to use the parking lot, but you can join the tenants and use the sidewalks. Hold special sales, serve drinks, cookies and of course hire a Santa.
You don’t have to spend a fortune. Decorate with holiday trees, wreaths and ornaments and decorations. You can even give away trees, wreaths, decorations with a purchase. Depending on where you live, you can host an outdoor farmer’s market with all kinds of goodies. Again, add some goodies to each of your sales. The higher the sales ticket, the more goodies you can give the customer.
How about this idea: Organize a holiday countdown calendar and buy gifts or fun items for a specific period. Don’t forget door hangers and time-sensitive offers. Partner with another company and share gift cards. What about joining another home furnishing company? You can combine your databases and your offers. Use your social media to promote your events and don’t forget to take photos.
Celebrate all the holidays and invite your customers to join you. You can celebrate holidays like Qwanza, Hanukkah and Kisan Diwas and decorate your store to reflect the different occasions.
You can talk to your customers about what they’re celebrating and get help with the decorations. This is a great copy for your social media pages.
How about a gift delivery service? Send a gift and a card during the holidays. Issue turkey grocery store coupons for customers who spend a certain amount. Introduce your customers to give themselves and others a “gift”. How about an event for your VIP customers? How can you do something special for them during the holidays?
This is the season to give back to the community. Many people are injured in our communities and food insecurity is still a major problem. You can hold a contest or raffle and donate a portion of the proceeds to a non-profit. Now is a good time to buy pet food, toys, clothes, etc.
Whatever you decide to do to share the Christmas spirit with your customers, have fun doing it. You will have no regrets.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for 20 years. Contact her at [email protected] to have her speak at your company or to schedule a consultation.
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