As we’re well and truly past back to school many of the big retailers are already ramping up for Christmas. Some have been slated in the past for implementing their Christmas windows as early as September… With Halloween and Bonfire night still a while away I was surprised to be asked for an interview in JULY for a magazine printed in last month that was all about Christmas display! If you’re interested in what I said read on!
How soon should I dress my windows with Christmas displays?
This is a really difficult question to give a definitive answer to – in some locations your neighbouring shops will begin their festive feature windows early (some as early as September!), in other areas very late (into December). If you are in an area where the windows are dressed early then perhaps try and include an element of change, so they don’t get dull. Depending on the type of local passing traffic you might want to refresh something about your window weekly – to feature a different aspect of your festive merchandise or a different focus for your products.
If you local neighbouring retailers don’t implement festive windows early and you feel you are missing out on a sales opportunity then a good time to go into Christmas display is immediately after Halloween and Bonfire night (if you are doing anything special to dress your window for then). The nights are drawing in and consumers begin to realise that before they know it Christmas will be upon them – your window needs to remind them of that AND draw them in!
What top tips do you have to make my festive windows really stand out without costing a fortune?
The most effective window displays include a “call to action” – like any form of advertising / marketing media the window isn’t just about a competition for who can create the most appealing display to brighten up the walk down the high street! Your window must draw consumers into the shop and include compelling reasons why they should buy from you…
What that includes will vary massively based on your offering, your customer base, your location and your preferences. As Christmas is one of the most important trading periods for most retailers across the UK it doesn’t make sense to cut too many corners on costs – granted a full animatronics display to rival Hamleys or Selfridges will cost an absolute fortune and would likely be overkill – but a well designed festive theme, with some decent artwork and point of sale might be a very valuable investment from which you reap considerable rewards.
My advice would be to speak to a designer who specialises in retail branding, visual merchandising and packaging (like the lovely folks at Rubber Cheese – www.rubbercheese.com) – they will have a very good understanding of how to use design to influence the consumer and the operational considerations for implementing a quality window in a smaller retailer.
Secondly I’d suggest you do a bit of analysis on your product range – what items make you the most cash margin? If you can feature these items and include them in your Christmas displays, perhaps demonstrating how these items are crucial to achieving a key look that you’ve show cased to the consumer then you’ll see an uplift in sales… which, given you’ve picked out your most profitable products will translate to a good uplift in bottom line too!
I don’t want to range lots of specific Christmas merchandise because I don’t want surplus stock at the end of season. Is there another way to get the festive feel into my shop from my existing range?
I am a great believer in allowing your customer data to be the best advice about your business – if you review your previous festive season sales performance you will get a great deal of insight as to what YOUR unique customer base want to buy from you, and, in what quantity.
If you discover in the past Christmas merchandise has been profitable, but perhaps low volume, then order less – you can feature items as “when it is gone it is gone” to encourage those who do want that kind of product to buy now to avoid disappointment. Of course if the supplier minimums are too high perhaps you can negotiate with them about reducing the minimums, or, sell the surplus stock on ebay or Amazon market place for instance!
If it is actually a case that your core product range sells well during the festive season then that’s the answer – you need to really make a “wow” impactful display from the items that you know will sell best – you don’t need to run discounts or promotions, unless you want to or have supplier support to invigorate sales. The key is to feature what your customers want to see in an exciting and engaging way.
Should I run special offers and promotions at Christmas; many of the chains seem to run a “before-end-of-season-sale” – what should I be doing?
Finally, when it comes to promotions a lot of retailers I work with fall foul of assuming that a promotion means a discount – and typically they just end up giving away margin. If the bigger retailers need to shift volume or “buy” footfall (by offering aggressive discounts to secure more customers) then they can – but it isn’t sustainable. You’re best to not try to compete on aggressive pricing and instead look at ways to appear to be running promotions without engaging in a price-war!
My advice for festive promotions includes:
- Feature products people want to buy – give them the best possible position in the store, with clear signage. Consider giving away advice and ideas as to how to use the products – this is a value add that won’t cost you much to do (printing a flyer for instance) and will given the consumer greater confidence to buy the items
- Offer a “mix and match” promotion – e.g. select up to 3 items from a group of products and get a free gift or a 4th (smaller item) free
- You can even offer a competition – you could get customers to take photos of themselves using your merchandise – if you sell cookware what about a photo of someone cooking dinner with your items? Invite them to send in their photos or to share them on your facebook page. You can pick a winner, perhaps at random, and give them a prize / gift. The key here is you are creating a “conversation” with your customers – engaging with them, inviting them to share a bit of their daily lives with you AND to show off how they use your products!
- If you have a loyal customer base or a customer database you might even want to run an evening event – open the shop to guests, have a party with some drinks and nibbles (maybe a local wine bar would collaborate with you to do this) and have some fun! Getting people in your shop who are really enjoying interacting with you, your product and each other can really help you to stand out from the crowd this Christmas, and, beyond!