The holiday season is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year and undoubtedly results in a huge boost to retailers' bottom line. It is also often an unpredictable, chaotic, and overwhelming time. As a result, the period right after the holidays can be both a bit of a let-down and a huge relief for retailers.
Some retailers see the beginning of the year as a way to recoup, reorganize, and plan for the coming months. However, focusing too much on the future can lead retailers to lose sight of the present and miss opportunities to drive sales. There are a number of strategies retailers can use to drive sales and build customer loyalty during this time.
Get your inventory in order
After the chaos of the holidays, it's time to get your inventory in order. Most of your 2017 inventory will remain relevant in 2018, but there are still things you will need to clear off the shelves or get out of the back room. Host a sale at the start of the new year when most of your competitors are getting back to business as usual. Once your inventory tracking is up to date, it should be easy to sort out what to include in a January sale in order to make space for new products. Inventory management tools can help you track down any products that got shuffled around in the holidays and view real-time inventory counts across all store locations. This way, you can make sure customers are always able to get the products they're after—even if your inventory is low.
Turn returns into new sales
A significant percentage of all holiday purchases get returned. When those customers visit your store, they are in the perfect position to make an additional purchase. Transform returns into opportunities by having a customer-friendly return policy and reviewing customer data in your retail management system to know exactly what your customers are looking for. It's important to gather information on why your customers are dissatisfied with a product and store this information in your customer relationship manager to aid future sales. By reviewing what customers have previously purchased and the features that they find most (or least) attractive, you can guide customers to the right purchase during the return process.
Dive into the data
Hopefully, your holiday season has produced a mountain of data about your store and your customers from both your e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores. Diving into this data to extract ideas and insights is a big undertaking, but with the right software, you can easily use this information to deliver value to your store. For example, if a customer was shopping for a loved one but expressed their own interest in upcoming iPhone models, you can use this information to target them with highly-relevant ads about iPhone release dates in the new year.
Shout your marketing messages
The retail market slows down generally at the start of the year, which means competition is not as fierce. This is the perfect time to launch a marketing effort simply because there are fewer voices vying for attention. Use the relative radio silence to get the name of your store on consumer's minds, and go a step further by announcing a major upgrade, enhancement, innovation, renovation, or re-brand. Those customers who waited until after the holiday rush to make a big purchase will keep your store top-of-mind.
Provide support for staff
The holiday season is exhausting on retail staff, and many sacrifice time with friends and family to work long holiday hours. If you haven't already equipped your team with the right tools to provide optimal customer service, the new year is the best time to implement the customer-facing tools and processes that will give your staff the product specs they need to deliver top customer service for the year to come.
Just imagine how much stronger your 2018 sales will be if you race out of the gate starting on January 1st. Applying the right effort towards the right initiatives will have an enduring impact on your bottom line and help you turn one-time holiday shoppers into loyal—and profitable—customers.
Succeeding in 2018 requires finding your strengths and admitting your weaknesses. If you're not using retail management technology to optimize every aspect of operations, you're missing out.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Sorbis, Shutterstock / fotoinfot, Shutterstock / Bjorn Bakstad