Top tips for tip top Christmas sales

Christmas is a vitally important period for retailers across the country. Indeed, many firms make the overwhelming bulk of their revenue during the festive season. As a retailer it is therefore important that you capitalise on the vastly increased spending that happens at this time of year.

Here are our five top tips for increasing your Christmas sales.

Boost your marketing spend

The Christmas period inevitably causes a scrum amongst retailers keen to attract custom. You need to be visible if you are to get customers through the door – and this means boosting your marketing efforts.

Many small firms neglect marketing at the best of times, considering it to be the preserve of large corporations. But study after study has shown the importance of marketing for SMEs – and this is particularly true at Christmas.

Consider expanding your marketing efforts, either by increasing your existing activities or by investigating new methods. High-impact, short-term campaigns are likely to be particularly effective over the Christmas period, so you may wish to consider direct mail or similar techniques to increase consumer awareness of your business.

Up-sell and cross sell

Once you have attracted a customer it is important that you try to maximise their spending. Up-selling and cross-selling are simple but very effective techniques that can be neglected by smaller businesses during busy periods.

The potential benefits of up selling and cross selling can be easily illustrated by considering a transaction in a big-name coffee shop. The server will begin by asking if you would like a medium or large sized coffee (never a small), and will more than likely suggest a food item to go with your drink. The average customer spend is increased significantly, simply by using the power of suggestion.

You can increase the use of up-selling and cross-selling by providing a loose script to your staff members, encouraging them to suggest other, related items to customers. You should also think carefully about the placement of products if you are running a shop; for example, if you are selling nuts, make sure there are nutcrackers nearby.

Differentiate yourself

Every retailer worth its salt will be making some extra effort around Christmas and, while this is sensible for each individual business, the collective result can be overwhelming for consumers.

Think about your local High Street at Christmas; the tinsel is out, everything is red and there is a fat Father Christmas in every window. The shops just merge into one.To stand out from the crowd you must think about ways that you can effectively differentiate your business. If you can concentrate on unique aspects of your business, or introduce new marketing or presentation ideas that set you apart from your immediate competitors, you will attract more custom.

Consider what makes your firm unique in normal trading circumstances - whether that is a particular product offering or especially good customer service - and stress this aspect of your business.

This year compete on price

Given the continuing financial worries facing many consumers, price is likely to be a deal-breaker for shoppers this year. Consider running high-visibility pricing offers; you might choose, for example, to undercut your competitors on certain loss-leading items, or offer a discount on a second purchase.

Combine this with the increased marketing efforts discussed earlier; for example, if you are running a direct mail campaign make sure that any festive special offers are prominently featured.

Remember, however, that low prices don’t compensate for great customer service. Studies have shown that being treated as a valued customer is equally as important as low prices.

Concentrate on online

According to some reports, 2009 will be the first year that consumers do more Christmas shopping online than on the High Street. It is therefore vital that you concentrate on your online offering.If you do not already have a website with e-commerce facilities it is highly unlikely that you will be able to build one in time for the Christmas rush. However, in this case you should make sure your shop is visible on as many online directories as possible.

This is where many people are searching for products and services these days and appearing on these sites will help you to be found in search engines.

If you do have an online store you should ensure that it is as visible as possible. You might wish to consider increasing your spend on online advertising services like Google Adwords, in order to ensure that your site catches the eye of customers searching for products that you offer.

Similarly, you should make sure that your web address is highlighted on all of your marketing material. You may also wish to consider offering time-limited deals, like free shipping over the Christmas period. Offers of this sort are likely to bring in much more than they cost and, if nothing else, they will increase customer awareness of your business.

Christmas is a stressful time for retailers, many of whom have to deal with stressed customers and long hours. However, the festive period can also be particularly profitable. If you put some thought into your marketing efforts, and consider your sales tactics, you can make the most of increased customer spending this Christmas.