Congratulations! With all major holidays currently in progress or over, you’ve nearly made it through another marathon! And, hopefully this has been the most rewarding season for your business to date. But, as exhausting as the holiday rush can be, it’s important to remember the year’s not over yet. As tempting as it can be to use this final week as a respite and recovery, it can be instrumental in capping off 2016 and setting your business up for success in the new year!
While the days following Christmas have become infamous for returns, in recent years there has been a surge of dealseekers flocking to sales. Additionally, many consumers who received gift cards for the holidays will have them burning a hole in their pocket, and eager to use it at new stores and old favorites, alike.
We’ve consolidated some of the best tips to use this crucial time to transition the success of the season into another rewarding year ahead.
Keep things running smoothly for customers:
- It’s important to recognize that as tired or weary as you might be at this point, your customers likely feel similar. They’ll be shorter on patience than you’d like to hope, so optimizing for their convenience and keeping things as stress-free as possible.
- Don’t bicker over issues with returns. It will put a bad taste in their mouth and ensure they’re unlikely to do any more business with you in 2017; not to mention the possibility of negative reviews or attention on social media it could cause.
- Make sure all employees are trained and empowered to complete every part of the process (returns, buying and using gift cards, etc.) and won’t require a manager. This will cut down on wait times, ensure their experience is frictionless, and makes them want to return in the future.
Minimize returns; encourage exchanges:
- Don’t wait until the new year to run sales. The more you can move older stock, the sooner you can update your product lines and offerings for a fresh start in the new year.
- Greet them at the door, and tell them about any current promotions or sales.
- Encourage customers looking to make a return at the register to take a look at your current merchandise and promotions. This can convince them to exchange rather than return.
- If they’re looking to exchange an item, use that as an opportunity for an upsell, by training employees on the best pairing options for items or services, which will pair well with the item they’re exchanging. Reminding them of any current promotions, will position the upsell as “making your gift go even farther!”
- When an item is returned or exchanged, do your best to get it back on the floor immediately. It can’t be resold if it’s not out there!
- Don’t forget to show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work during this hectic time. Treat them to lunch, and keep them fueled with their favorite coffees or caffeinated beverages.
Identify opportunities you can use to market to them in 2017:
- Reduce ad spend as customers are already flocking for deals. Use this budget to incentivize employees to hit goals or for customers to join your mailing list.
- It can be easy to let best practices fall by the wayside during this time of shopping frenzy, but remember to reinforce the importance of certain procedures to your employees. Requesting and inputting critical customer info into your CRM will ensure you’re set up for success in the coming year. (Or, if you’re too busy, remember that Signpost’s Mia can do this for you, automatically. Find out more with a demo!)
- This is also a great time to emphasize the perks and advantages of your loyalty program, and to encourage new and repeat patrons alike to join.
- Distribute exclusive coupons to customers who make a purchase during this time that can be redeemed in the new year. This will encourage them to return in January, when sales generally slow, but the memory of their recent experience will still be strong.