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How to prepare your retail store for the festive season

6 October 2023 | Published by Faire

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It’s been a turbulent year, with rising costs, interest hikes and an all-round sense of uncertainty – so what does the 2023 holiday season have in store for retailers? 

Forecasts predict polarised spending this year. Inflation has forced a lot of Brits to tighten their purse strings, but there are still 4.7 million UK shoppers who plan on spending more than usual on Christmas presents this year. Many shoppers are starting their shopping early to nab steep Black Friday discounts and spread their costs over several months. 

Thankfully, it’s early enough to reach customers before they hit their budget by stocking your inventory strategically, sprucing up your shelves – both online and in person – and optimising your marketing channels. Read on for more tips.

Plan your inventory early

To capture consumer demand and avoid supply chain mishaps, calculate how much money to allocate to holiday inventory. Start by reviewing sales numbers from prior years and carefully considering this year’s predicted consumer shopping habits before peak season. Err on the side of buying your bestsellers earlier – and in smaller, risk-averse quantities – to account for both demand and potentially irregular lead times.

With Faire, you can look at a brand’s expected lead time (located on the brand’s shop page) to see how long goods might take to arrive. If you don’t want to rely just on preset lead times and shipping windows, you can also contact the brand directly: Ask what shipping methods they’re using this year and enquire about any additional delays they’re experiencing before placing your order. To message a brand on Faire, use the chat feature.

While it might be tempting to stock your shelves with holiday-focused items, it would be wise to invest in evergreen items this season. Think of products you could continue selling year-round should you find yourself with overstock. This is a smart way to cut down on your budget and ensure you offer products that appeal to customers shopping beyond the festive season.Recent research by Mintel revealed that cost-saving and sustainability are top priorities for UK shoppers this Christmas. Consider stocking smaller-ticket, ethically minded gifts that will still be relevant after the mince pies have been eaten and the turkey leftovers are all gone. The biggest gifting opportunities are likely to be found in the lower-ticket end of the market – think gifts that are great value but also retain some sense of sentiment and quality.

Prepare your e-commerce site

In-store footfall in 2022 was lower than predicted, with many shoppers choosing to buy gifts online. In fact, 78% of consumers bought gifts from online stores – a trend that’s likely to continue this year as people shop around for a good deal. This has bumped up the competition for online retailers, making it more important than ever to create an enjoyable, trustworthy digital shopping experience. 

From product details and photography to shipping information, now is the time to make sure your e-commerce site is up to date. Video is also increasingly effective, with Meta’s holiday marketing guide reporting that 55% of shoppers were inspired to buy gifts based on online videos.

It’s also worthwhile to ensure your online presence offers information about your business and how you got started. With more customers looking to shop small and support businesses that reflect their values, providing an origin story on your website is a great way to appeal to new customers.

Finally, verify that your e-commerce site is easy to navigate. Make sure the journey from discovery to checkout is straightforward and seamless. If you’ve curated holiday-specific collections or gift guides, make sure they’re easy for users to find and shop on your website.

Play to your strengths with holiday gift guides

Gift guides can be a powerful sales tool at this time of year, especially since half of UK consumers are open to buying Christmas gifts from new and emerging brands. This appetite for discovery allows you the opportunity to surprise and delight customers by introducing them to unique gifts from your store. One easy way to showcase these products is by putting together a Christmas gift guide.

To determine how to categorise your holiday gift guides, consider your target customer. Think about who they’re shopping for and what values are important to them. Then, factor in your festive inventory strategy. Your holiday gift guides don’t have to consist of completely new, Christmas-related products. Instead, they can be curated in a way that best fits your catalogue of products. 

  • Holiday shopping guides can be broken into a variety of categories, such as gifts organised by hobby, lifestyle or values. 
  • This is also a great opportunity to highlight your favourite or best-selling products. 
  • As an added incentive, try offering products grouped together as bundles for a discounted price. 

Eco-friendly products are increasingly popular. Research shows that 65% of Brits are willing to pay more for a sustainable product.

Expand your marketing channels

More and more customers are using social media as a tool for discovery when online shopping. Having a presence on at least one social media platform is likely to increase your chances of reaching new customers. If you’re new to social media, try focusing on just one platform first. Instagram is a popular choice among creators and customers for commerce: Build a community, partner with influencers, boost sales and drive traffic by following our easy-to-implement tips. It’s also a great platform for keeping customers up to date on sales, holiday opening hours and other important business information.

TikTok is also a great channel for reaching new shoppers with short, fun videos. Jump on trending hashtags, run challenges and engage with your audience to generate buzz around your holiday stock.

Email marketing is another valuable tool for building your business’s online presence. If you haven’t yet, find a way to collect email addresses from your customers, whether it’s a sign-up sheet at your store or a form on your website. Templates can be a huge time-saver, and it’s easier than you think to master the nuances of what kinds of emails to send. Emailing your customers regularly keeps your business top of mind and is an easy way to drive traffic straight to your e-commerce site. It’s also another avenue to advertise any current sales or curated holiday collections. 

Create eye-catching festive experiences

How you present your products can be just as important as the products themselves, inviting potential buyers to really get a feel for what you offer. Charm your customers this festive season by using visual merchandise to create striking seasonal displays. A seasonal display indicates to customers that your store is a destination for holiday shopping, and it can entice new customers to walk through the door. Today’s customers are eager for unique experiences when shopping, and creating a festive display can be an opportunity to increase the time they spend in your store – and encourage them to refer your business to friends.

Whether you choose to decorate specifically for Christmas or simply embrace a winter wonderland theme, don’t be afraid to get creative with your in-store displays. You can also share pictures of your decorations on your social media to encourage shoppers to visit.

Create a community hub this season

Footfall might be down on previous years but don’t underestimate the value of getting shoppers in-store. UK shoppers were keen to shop local in 2022, and this will no doubt be a similar trend in 2023 as people continue to support local businesses. 

Increase sales by turning your store into a mini community hub with events and holiday activities. This will not only introduce shoppers to your entire product range but also help you secure long-term customers who will come back again and again in the New Year. Consider events like a wreath-making workshop, warm drinks on a chilly evening or festive painting classes. 

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