Retailstore chief executive Ian Tomlinson looks at the sales opportunities presented by the end of summer – and the beginning of the run up to Christmas
The weather forecast for the August bank holiday may still be uncertain, but one thing is certain – the retail revenue potential of the August bank holiday. But is every retailer making the most of this extended peak shopping period?
Whatever the weather, our bank holiday weekends draw people of all ages, demographics and interests into the retail bonanza of flash sales, dazzling Christmas offers and summer clearance bargains simply too good to miss.
Well, when you’re not dashing outside to frantically light the barbecue whenever the rain eases, the great British summer sale sits waiting for you on your mobile, online or at the shops you love to visit. In fact, most of us just love to rummage the sales to discover that bargain beauty we’ve been searching for.
And it’s not just about the great British summer sale, the August bank holiday kicks off the Christmas countdown for retailers. For most retailers, this is the make or break financial quarter.
But are most of us doing enough to cash in on this all-important retail period for both short and long term revenue gain?
The August bank holiday is a unique season for retail marking the end of summer and the start of the Christmas count down. Whilst we might feel despondent the summer is drawing to a close, tempting bargains open our purse strings and the excitement of Christmas begins to lure us into the festive buying spirit, creating two very powerful incentives to spend.
A study from eBay indicates that over the bank holiday weekend last August, searches for Christmas-related items increased significantly, spiking by up to 57%.
The publisher has revealed that over the course of the (rather stormy) bank holiday weekend last year (between Friday and bank holiday Monday) searches for “Christmas” on eBay.co.uk shot up by 57%, as shoppers turned their attention to the weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer.
Searches for “Christmas stocking” and “Christmas jumper” also rose by 50% and 39%, respectively, over the same period, suggesting consumers were actively preparing for Christmas four months ahead of time.
As we approach the August bank holiday weekend this year, retailers of all sizes should be thinking and working to understand the complex extended peak shopping period, and seize the chance to engage early with customers who are thinking about Christmas early and to analyse data for better inventory management and pricing strategies to maximise gross profit for the following year.
Retailers are used to planning Christmas strategies early on in the year, but it’s important to understand that it’s not just the retail industry that’s looking so far ahead; our data shows that consumers also start thinking about the festive season in summer.
According to eBay’s report, the Clothes, Shoes & Accessories category boasted the longest window of influence, likely to be driven by early shopping for festive and party outfits. Spending in the Toys & Games and Baby categories, on the other hand, is weighted towards the early part of peak season, suggesting that shoppers prioritise buying presents for their children before focusing on the remainder of their friends and family.
10 things to consider and action:
- Customer data acquisition. With great sale bargains and Christmas previews comes great footfall so don’t miss the opportunity to build up your lucrative customer database.
- Launch an exclusive VIP loyalty Club. Why not incorporate exclusive Christmas events and festive discounts for members to boost your sales figures, win market share and encourage strong customer rapport. Don’t forget to promote this at your point of sale!
- Introduce digital receipts to enable not only easy refunds and exchanges but importantly acquire email addresses for on-going customer engagements.
- Introduce instore mobile technology to create digital aisles for extended product choice and search of items in other locations.
- If you decide to incorporate the online buying experience of instore digital aisles, why not introduce pay and deliver so your customers can receive their goods at home and enjoy the experience of shopping without carrying the bags!
- Run Facebook competitions using a low cost or free app, such as www.woobox.com, which will allow you to collect entrant’s details.
- Flexible data collection will allow you to decide which fields you want e.g. First Name, Last Name, Email, Address and Phone Number and allow you to create more fields.
- Try not to duplicate customer data. A Cloud based EPoS system helps prevent duplicates as there is a single database, essentially one version of the truth.
- Plan your Summer Sale campaign. Set a diary task to spend a half or full day to review last year’s marketing efforts and how they affected sales. Plan the day away from the store so you don’t get distracted.
- Decide what worked well and what did not. You can do this by monitoring clicks on marketing emails and using your EPoS and ecommerce system to monitor sales spikes online and in store. It’s also worth checking what posts worked well on social media.