Five tips for successful seasonal sales and promotions

Retail management software has almost endless uses in the daily running of your business. Stock control, document management and point of sale functions are the bread and butter of retail management, but your software can do far more than the basics alone. As Christmas approaches, retailers in most sectors face their busiest season of the year.

10th November 2015

Effective stock control and marketing strategies are crucial if businesses are to make the most of this lucrative period. Builders’ merchants, plumbing merchants and timber merchants may not experience the same Christmas boost as high street retailers – in fact, the winter months are usually quiet in these sectors – but you should take tips from how these retailers plan seasonal sales and promotions. Builders’ merchants’ busiest periods may be bank holiday weekends and at the height of the summer – a long way off, but it’s never too early to start planning for that next big seasonal sales push.

#1 Look at last year’s sales                                                                                                  

If you use retail management software and have been in business for at least a year, look back at your sales figures from last year. Take note of how sales changed when discounts started and calculate the effect this had on revenue. Examine how the average customer spend changed over this period and how this affected profits. It’s likely you’ll find that the increased sales of certain products failed to compensate for their discounted prices. While maximising profit should be the overall goal of the sale, remember that some items can act as loss leaders to draw custom. Learning from the successes and failures of past sales and marketing campaigns is vital if you’re to achieve better results this time around.

#2 Plan your marketing campaign

Instead of placing a solitary A3 homemade banner in your window this year, ensure your seasonal marketing campaign is rather more thorough. After all, you’ll have to shout to be heard over all the other seasonal adverts. Plan ahead – figure out which platforms you want to advertise on (social media, online ads, physical ads, TV, banners, customer invoices etc.) and set out a timeline of what you need to complete for each of them. For example, you may need to contact a local printing company a month before the sale launches so you have plenty of time to finalise flyer and poster design before the event. Remember that a multi-platform marketing campaign must be properly integrated. Ensure consistency across all aspects and make sure key promotional activity is synchronised across channels for maximum impact.

#3 Have a theme

By a theme, we don’t just mean ‘Christmas’ or ‘summer holiday’ – instead, be more specific. Think about the most popular seasonal products in your business and create a marketing campaign themed around them. For example, in spring you might run a ‘spruce up your garden for summer’ campaign, or in autumn you could focus on a ‘winter property checklist’ whereby you promote items that help homeowners complete key maintenance tasks ahead of wintry weather.

#4 Maximising sales

Once you’ve got customers in your store or on your website, there are simple ways to facilitate bigger purchases. In-store, consider hiring extra staff during periods of high demand to reduce queues and improve customer service, or simply give your current staff some extra training to smooth out the point of sale experience. If your staff can’t handle the extra trade, you’ll lose potential custom in the short term and the long term. If you have an online store, tidy it up well in advance of the sale. Proof read the copy, resolve any lingering visual bugs and fix broken links. You may wish to look into usability testing to find out how users navigate your website and learn how to increase online sales by providing an improved user experience.

#5 Avoid waste and obsolescence

One of the biggest problems that retailers have with seasonal sales is the speed with which products become obsolete. Visit any chocolate shop the day on November 1st or after the Easter weekend and you’ll already see huge discounts on seasonal products. Try to avoid purchasing large quantities of products that are strictly seasonal. If possible, track how similar products fared last time around and expect similar sales patterns this year.

Planning promotions takes time, but it’s a commitment that’ll pay dividends for your business. If you’re looking to upgrade your retail management software so that you can analyse your next round of promotions, see what Integrity’s point of sale software has to offer merchants.

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