Is your retail business ready for the Christmas rush?

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Getting prepped for the holiday shopping rush is about more than just putting some tinsel on the store-bought Christmas tree and offering a silly season sale.

Christmas specials matter, but if you don’t have the basics right, you will be missing out on revenue.

In a physical store you will want to ensure you have adequate staff to maintain good customer service and reduce queues when things get busy. Online, you want the product descriptions and photos to be strong and your website’s check-out process to be quick and painless.

Catering for the unique context of 2020 also matters. That means considering what Covid-19 means for your potential buyers.

Covid-19 and the ‘buy local’ movement

For Kiwi retailers, this Christmas will be a little bit different to those in recent years.
With overseas travel off the cards due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many people are looking to spend their Christmas cash in different ways – whether it be buying a new barbeque, a boat, or eating out every night during a local New Zealand holiday.

There’s also a heightened awareness among New Zealand consumers of the struggles some Kiwi businesses are facing as a result of the pandemic, and a willingness among many to support their local stores.

If your product is locally made, now is the time to play on that by making it central to your brand story. Your website, product packaging, physical and online stores and social media accounts are all good places to let your customers know.

Run an effective online store

Online stores and digital channels have really come into their own for many New Zealand businesses in recent months.

More and more New Zealanders are doing their shopping online, so it pays to make sure your products can easily be found in a Google search. You will also want to ensure you have an online store with great photos, helpful product descriptions, and user-friendly check-out process.

NZ Post’s E-commerce Spotlight research found that almost 1.5 million New Zealanders shopped online in the first half of 2020, partly due to the Covid-19 lockdown. This included 172,000 Kiwis who shopped online for the first time, which helped to drive a 30 per cent higher total e-commerce spend compared to the same period in 2019. This increased familiarity with web stores among Kiwi shoppers will only see them buying more online in future.

Having an online store matters for those selling overseas too. Many Kiwi businesses I work with that sell overseas have also seen a higher proportion of their revenue coming in via online channels this year as people in other countries try to avoid public spaces.

Covid-19 may be largely under control in New Zealand, but that’s not the case in many other countries around the world.

Finally, don’t forget to bring the Christmas spirit to your online store, as well as your physical one. This can be done through temporary changes to your website’s design, friendly Christmas messages and holiday season specials.
The value of a social good cause

There’s another important point worth considering if you want to tap in the psyche of sellers at this time of year. Christmas is a time of giving and many people are looking out for opportunities to contribute to those less fortunate than themselves.

If consumers perceive that your product makes a positive contribution to society, or the environment, your chances of selling during the holiday period will receive a jump start.

This could be done through your manufacturing process, which might be more environmentally friendly than your competitors. Or perhaps you partner with or support a local charity, contributing a percentage of every sale to help support their cause.

If you make a difference like this it should be well communicated in your promotional materials, as well as in store. Backing ethical products and positive causes matters to many consumers – perhaps more this year than ever before.

After all, we’ve all seen the value of kindness and helping each other out in times of need this year.

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James Heffield
James Heffield
Director of Bay of Plenty marketing and public relations consultancy Last Word. To find out more visit www.lastwordmedia.co.nz or email james@lastwordmedia.co.nz.

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