Taking an honest look at what worked and what missed the mark this holiday season puts you ahead for next year. While many retailers focus on the bottom line, there are other indicators that can help fine tune a strong next holiday season.
- Take to Social Media – It used to be much more difficult to get feedback from customers. That changed with social media. In fact, some retailers might argue they receive too much feedback on social media. Social media is the perfect forum to ask customers what they liked in your store this year. Maybe it was giveaways or free wrapping. Or maybe they felt the way you offered sales was unfair to early shoppers. Social media can provide excellent insight, but it should be taken with a grain of salt, just because one person voices his or her opinion does not make it correct.
- Take Inventory and Look at Trends – Every year you have products that are winners and products that are losers. Make sure you take the time to categorize your top sellers and ask yourself why they were such as hit. Is this a product that would do well next year? Are there any closely-related products that would also do well? What about accessories? Or is this product a trend that was on fire this year but is already starting to fade. Be sure to stay objective; just because you love a product doesn’t make it a great seller.
- Deal with the Losers – You bought some product that didn’t sell nearly as well as you had anticipated. Too often retailers hold on to inventory for an extended period of time in hopes they will at least break even on the merchandise. This is especially true of seasonal items. Cut your losses and save on storage space. Discount any seasonal merchandise and get it off your shelves. This makes room for new inventory, which will keep customers coming back.
- Talk to Your Employees – If you are not on the floor at the busiest times of the season, it can be hard to gauge where weak points in your systems exist. For example, your register placement may not be an issue 11 months of the year, but during the holidays a long line waiting to checkout impedes other shoppers. Ask your employees what can be done to encourage shoppers to buy more and what can add to the overall customer experience. You may be surprised at what they have to say.
Just because the holiday rush is over does not mean retailers can relax. Making time to take a hard look at merchandise and the numbers can better prepare you for the next holiday season. In addition, listening to both your customers and employees can vastly improve the shopping experience of your customers.
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