While you may have focused the bulk of your retail strategy on the holiday season, it’s time to move ahead to the massive sales potential that happens now that the holiday season is over.
People are still in the mood to spend after collecting a stack of gift cards or a pile of gifts they want to exchange for something better, and often, bigger. But they're also tightening up their spending after the holiday season, so the mentality of the shopper shifts.
Here are some tips to make the most of your January sales opportunities.
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Marketing at the Ready
First, comes the marketing plan for offline and online sales channels, with tips from Walker Sands "Reinventing Retail: What Businesses Need to Know for 2015" report:
- Decide what to put on sale and feature based on what you sold during the holiday season as well as what your suppliers are telling you they can deliver.
- Compose a theme for your promotional messaging. Often a marketing target about getting what you really want is ideal as many people are returning all those gifts they didn’t really like. Use this theme for all marketing communication to create a standard look to what you are offering.
- Generate content for all channels and platforms that you had ready to go just prior to Christmas and which you used during and after the holiday season. Now, carry this theme through these same channels for the rest of the January sales.
- Create coupons and exclusive deals for your loyal following of customers and send these directly to your customers through email.
- Use this time as a way to introduce the next season of products and merchandise, putting customers and shoppers in the frame of mind for the upcoming holiday, like Valentine’s Day, as well as stir up the thoughts of the spring months. You may want to continue the use of a type of gift guide that you used for the holidays for the Valentine event as well as for occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and more.
- Make sure everything you do for marketing is mobile-friendly for consumers that are set to continue browsing, researching, and shopping through their smartphones.
Supply Chain: Prepped and Loaded
With a marketing strategy that is ready to sell, sell, sell, it’s time to look at your supply chain to determine if it can handle the next wave. After all, if everything goes as planned, inventories will have fulfilled the holiday demand.
This may leave suppliers with empty warehouses that might not be able to deliver during the next big opportunity of January and then Valentines. Here are some tips to move forward:
- Review data from previous peak shopping seasons to determine inventory trends as a basis for gauging what to plan going forward this year. While previous years might reflect a recessionary period, there are still some trends you can identify from at least the last two years to track purchase behaviors in January and beyond. Identify those slow-selling products that you may want to include for January promotions and to clear out that inventory.
- Check your inventory tracking system for vital metrics to see if it is truly delivering the real-time data you need to make decisions on what to promote or highlight during the January and Valentine season that will be available for customers. As one Inbound Logistics article noted in describing the increased sophistication in inventory tracking thanks to technology: “They've also used technology to gain a better view of inbound inventory, reducing the need for costly expedited transportation. And they've made more flexible agreements with the shipping lines that carry their merchandise from overseas.” This is an ongoing effort that should be addressed throughout the year to better prepare for every peak sales period.
- Gauge if there are any other processes in your supply chain that can be automated for greater efficiency. You can take what you learned from the holiday season and apply it to making any necessary changes throughout the other sales seasons that run at least through the end of January.
- Continue to communicate with all of your vendors and supply chain partners to ensure the flow of products that will drive these January and Valentines sales. This close relationship, including integrating processes and sharing data, can make the difference in how well you do during this huge sales opportunity.
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Working Parallel Paths
This may seem like a lot to undertake right when you have just finished your busiest sales period of the year, but it is possible to work the parallel paths of fulfilling customer expectations for the products they wanted delivered on time earlier, while looking ahead and planning for January and Valentine orders and opportunities to increase holiday sales volume. (This shows how to do your gift buying guides.) If you have used buying guides before, keep the same format if your format is mobile friendly and use the same guide-type ideas for the other special days throughout 2016.