By Brian Walker of The Retail Doctor® Group
The teams on board, the stock’s flowing in, the promotional plan is in play, the advertising is in shape, the online strategy is flowing and we are ready to take to the field to win the “Grand Final of Retailing”.
Yep – it’s Christmas.
Here are the Retail Doctor’s first set of Business Fitness tips in preparing your business to capture those additional sales and profits over the Christmas trading period.
1. Be unique: Have something special to say that has personality, courage and presence. Be bold and stand out from the crowd. This is your chance to really make your business mark.
2. Have a plan over this period to drive sales, margin, customer transactions and stock turn. A good strategy without implementation is fairly worthless.
3. Be visible: This is the time for the CEO to be in the field along with other senior executives, proclaiming the vision, pressing the flesh and serving customers alongside their staff.
4. Teach your people well (to quote Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) with specific focus on:
– Key staff rostered on for high traffic trading times of the week – rosters needs to change in the Christmas trading period to correctly reflect the shift in trading hours and customers buying patterns. This is a big one! If your key people are not on when the traffic is at its highest, you will not maximise your potential.
– Sales training – Many staff benefit from increasing their selling skills, especially in customer interaction, product features and benefits and mutual acknowledgement.
– Reduce the non-essential non sales tasks dramatically. Maximise every available minute of sales and service time.
– Treat this period as a specific staff competition period with prizes for sales, average sale, items per sale and conversion rates.
– Make sure you have your “A’ team on show.
– Daily start-up meetings: Have each team member demonstrate their product knowledge and sales skills. Reinforce the daily target.
– Do the early morning shop opening and visual merchandising the night before.
– Have a daily sales target to individual sales targets.
– Keep lifting the bar. Measure and reinforce the KPIs.
– Leadership, coaching and motivating our teams that work long hours in this period is vital.
5. Stock up before and after store trading hours – you want the team to be 100 per cent focused on selling, not tasking. Have a ‘no cartons rule’ during trading times which keeps the store clean and team focused on customers.
6. Remember that it’s about being “in line” that is having a well presented website that is synergistic with the physical retail channel. Up to 50 per cent of your potential and existing customers are pre-researching their purchases on the website.
7. Lift the quality of the shop formats, late 90’s shopfronts don’t cut it. Dress the windows up to powerful and attractive, bold, bright, and unique. Invest in new Christmas decorations: Not the same ones you wheeled out last year and the year before. Such as the Christmas gold stars with 10 staple marks in them or the Joy of Christmas’ posters circa 1999.
8. Customers: Despite what the media may say about increasing customer confidence, there is still disparity between what people read and feel. The answer this Christmas is to make customers feel more special than ever before – engage and reward customers, give them a reason to return to you in the New Year.
9. Competitors: See what they do, watch them although the real key is to focus on your game and deliver value add to your customer experience.
10. Inventory – You should have all your product lines on the way or just in the shops by now. Focus on stock turns, sell though, prominent positioning. Here are three quick merchandise fitness pointers:
– Focus on gross margins in this period.
– Sales growth is important, however healthy margin growth is every bit as important.
– Growing the financial health of a business is important as well. Nothing damages the financial health of a business than too much inventory.
11. Focus on the margin return on sales. There is no real skill in giving it away and profitable margin growth is especially important.
12. Review each week until the post-Christmas period with a daily action checklist, dividing tasks into zones of responsibility. Checklists are always necessary tools, but especially during the Christmas trading season. It is important to put some quick and easy guidelines in place for every store team to follow on a daily basis. This can be as simple as a daily ‘set up’ checklist which covers the most important focus for the type and location of the business.
13. Measure your promotional impact through these period. There will be a significant increase in the customers walking past or entering your shops. Types of actions around promotional product could include:
– Is the latest promotional material positioned in agreed place?
– Are the promoted product lines in a prominent and agreed position?
– Are all products in stock, faced up and well presented?
– Have all rostered team members been briefed on promoted lines and product benefits?
– Do we have enough stock to exceed sales targets?
13. Review each week until the post-Christmas period with the following:
– What is the promotional message/campaign on a weekly basis? (Is our point of difference reinforced through this messaging?)
– What are our hero products each week and daily as we approach Christmas Eve?
– How are we promoting and managing these hero products (depth in relevant range)?
– What is our in store messaging to support these campaigns each week?
– Have we got effective props and in store vibe (including relevant music and fragrance)?
– Are our windows simple, powerful, fresh and compelling
Visit The Retail Doctor for more tips and tricks specific to the retail trade, retaildoctor.com.au