By most accounts it has been a 'mixed' year for bike sales, but 2015 isn't over yet. Myagi.com has some top tips for shops on how to make the most of Christmas.
"Our friends at RetailNext just released their 2015 Christmas predictions, forecasting a 2.8 per cent year-over-year increase in November through December retail sales over the totals for 2014. It’s certainly good news, but don’t settle as your bike shop can grab more than their fair share by following these guidelines:
1. Create a true in-store Christmas experience. When customers step into your store this Christmas they’ll be looking for a unique shopping experience, not just a place where they can buy something. For example, if you’re a Golf store, your customers will be looking for the usual array of merchandise, but also for a more festive layout, more staff, extra services, extended opening hours, special deals and promotions. The Christmas holidays are the most intense time of the year in retail and it’s imperative that you staff up and up skill your staff so that they’re ready, willing and able to create a special shopping experience while coping with the expected increase in customers.
2. Plan seasonal Christmas hires in advance.Sports Authority, a major sports and outdoor industry retailer, just announced that they’re hiring 3,500 Christmas workers starting now and continuing through December. The company also intends to convert hundreds of seasonal workers into permanent team members after the Christmas holidays. So set up your Christmas hiring now as the best workers get snapped up quickly. Missing store associates on the floor could lead to frustrated customers and lost sales this season. If you need to hire staff who have very little to no prior retail experience, there are some practical guidelines that can be followed to get the best type of seasonal worker and potentially convert some of them to permanent hires after the Christmas holidays are over.
3. Be prepared for webrooming customers with knowledgeable sales associates. It’s expected that some two-thirds of Christmas shoppers plan to “webroom”. This means they’ll first go online to view and compare products, research prices and consider customer reviews before entering your store. To deal with the new smart shopper, your sales associates need to become retail experts. Today’s consumer expects your sales associates to be knowledgeable about products and services. It’s best to ensure that your team gets proper retail training to cope with these requirements.
4. Focus on upselling and add-on sales. The Christmas season can be a perfect time for add-on sales that increase the average transaction value or “ATV”. This is the time of year when the customer may not have a specific purchase in mind, but they’re looking for something to buy as a gift. In this case, the customer may be delighted to discover not just one item, but additional complimentary items in the same store. This allows the customer to get through his or her Christmas shopping list sooner without going from store to store. In anticipation of this mindset, identify products that can be bundled together for add-on selling to increase the value of any given sale. Also, if the customer is partial to products that have more expensive or upgraded models, your sales associates can upsell by suggesting those models. Train your sales staff on how to increase sales using these two methods, then reinforce that training throughout the Christmas holidays to capture more sales.
5. Staff up and step up your customer service. We’ve said it before, customer service is critical to a meaningful shopping experience. It’s proven that if customers walk away from their shopping trip delighted with their experience, they’ll likely come back to shop with you and tell their friends to do the same. So get your staff ready to go that extra mile for the customer and train them in proper sales etiquette, gift wrapping and gift cards, return policies as well as soliciting feedback via a store survey or comment cards. Give all employees a refresher on store policies and details on Christmas promotions. The more your employees know, the easier it will be to communicate with your customers. Consider a customer service contest among your sales staff to see who can get the best feedback from customers.
6. Offer gift cards. The National Retail Federation found that more than half of consumers would like to receive a gift card this Christmas season. It’s true that gift cards are a convenient solution when a customer isn’t sure what to buy and doesn’t want to disappoint with an unsuitable purchase. Gift cards save the buyer time and potential embarrassment. Moreover, the recipient gets the pleasure of coming into the store later to shop for themselves with free money. In such cases, almost three-quarters of customers spend more on a purchase than the amount on their gift cards, presenting a great opportunity for more sales. Your sales associates should be aware of the power and convenience of gift cards in the Christmas shopping mix and as appropriate, encourage your customers to purchase them. You can also prominently display custom branded cards at your store counter.
7. Showcase trending seasonal gift items. Customers looking to buy gifts during the Christmas holidays are always looking for inspiration and validation. Anything you can do to make their shopping journey easier will help the sale happen in your store. From the first day of the season, start reviewing your POS data to see what the top 6 or 10 items trending for the season are. Then let your customers know this with appropriate signage or electronic displays in your stores and by word-of-mouth from your sales associates. If a customer thinks other customers have identified an item as popular and having good value, they may be more likely to buy it and complete a sale in your store.
8. Take precautions to prevent theft in your store. Retail businesses around the world lose billions a year through shoplifting and employee theft. It’s an unfortunate reality that the Christmas shopping season is also prime time for theft in retail stores. In order to minimize the risk of losses, track your inventory and transactions in your point of sale system. Conduct background and reference checks on any seasonal staff hires to ensure they don’t have a history of employer theft. Then train them on basic retail theft prevention and detection methods, as well as store policies when theft does occur.
9. Get your team online and mobile with retail training. Thanks to tablets and smartphones, your sales associates can train from anywhere at almost anytime - from home, en route to work and even during downtime on the sales floor. Instead of taking salespeople off the floor to get trained in a back-room, adopt the latest technologies that facilitate on demand retail training to provide your staff with knowledge of retail store operations, product knowledge, sales and customer service. Visit Myagi.com for more details.
10. Have your best sales associates mentor your seasonal staff. In addition to providing online training for rapid and effective onboarding of your seasonal hires, you can teach them additional skills on the sales floor. Assign your best sales associates as mentors to to help your seasonal team members quickly adapt to the realities of the Christmas shopping rush. Your best employees will appreciate this trust and extra responsibility and your new seasonal workers will feel more a part of the store team. Your most knowledgeable employees can also create some simple, yet effective training content using their smartphones or other video equipment, if available, and upload it to your online platform as supplemental retail training.
Want to hear about how other UK bike shops are approaching Christmas? Take a look at our latest poll on the topic.