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How to Take Advantage of the Upcoming Holiday Season For Your Retail Business

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For retailers the holidays are often the most hectic time-of-year. While most business owners have hopefully already begun preparations to stay ahead of the holiday season, here's how you can leverage the upcoming season to stand-out from the competition and ultimately boot sales.

Come on, get festive!

Just like any other
, the first step you should take is to develop a strategy that focuses on the upcoming holiday season - both online and offline. Keep in mind that not every holiday fits your retail business. That's why you should circle the most important dates like Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day, Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, and Chinese New Year.

After you've identified the dates that resonate with your customers you can then begin getting festive with your marketing. For instance, you can create a Christmas themed window display, reminding customers that there's only 6 days until New Year's Eve via email and social media, and updating your website so that it includes holiday related images and text on your homepage and appropriate landing pages.

Keep your customers and employees merry.

One of the easiest ways to keep your customers happy is by offering them incentives like a 10% discount, free shipping on all orders, offering gift cards, free wrapping, extended holiday hours, and last minute shopping reminders or suggestions. Also, don't forget to give your customers a solid customer experience by providing top-notch customer service and being mobile friendly with a responsive website.

If you really want to stand-out from your competitors then personalize these incentives. It's been found that 42% of holiday shoppers will respond to a customized mobile ad. You can do this by sending them product suggestions based on past purchases or sending them messages through their preferred channels.

You can even let your customers insert themselves into your ads. For example, OfficeMax's "Elf Yourself" campaign resulted in 193 million visits.

Besides your customers, you also need to keep your employees happy and motivated. You can offer them incentives, such as gift cards, whenever they reach sales cards. Other little perks could be providing them with food and beverages. Trust me. They're going to work-up an appetite. And, don't forget to give them sufficient training on the key products and bestsellers that your business will be selling this holiday season.

Launch an email marketing campaign.

Email remains the most powerful tools for retailers. Why? Because there are around
. And that number is expected to grow to 2.9 billion by the end of 2019. Furthermore, in 2015 email marketing was responsible for
of online holiday sales.

Constant Contact has put together a list of 30 creative ideas for your holiday email marketing campaign. This includes everything from sharing a holiday preview sale, a holiday gift guide, coupons and discounts, a holiday video, and thanking your customers for an amazing year.

Be a gracious host.

If you have a brick and mortar location then you should definitely consider hosting an event. For example, you could partner with you fellow retailers on your block to have a sales event that includes entertainment, snacks, and present wrapping stations. In your store, you could have Santa himself make a visit or allow customers to try out your products. For example, if you own a home goods store then you could provide cooking classes where potential customers are actually preparing dishes using th products that you're selling.

Visit the Ghost of Inventory Past.

Inventory is arguably your most important assist for retailers during the holidays. After all, if you don't have product that people want, then how can you expect to have a successful business?

Go back and review last year's sales to see what items were your best-sellers and which ones didn't sell that well. This way you know which products to push, as well as making sure that you're fully-stocked. The last thing that you want is to run-out of an in-demand item.