Countdown to Christmas

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While summer may still be at the front of people’s minds, for retailers this is the time to start prepping for Christmas trade, and thinking about how you can launch your festive sales season with a bang.

1. Plan well ahead 

Many people dread hearing the word ‘Christmas’ before the autumn begins, but many (well organised) people will probably start their Christmas shopping as early as September or even August, which not only helps to spread the cost of what can be a costly season, but also helps people to get organised. 

Jo Clark Designs, for example, sent wholesalers their products, including Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gifts, and homeware, in July and August and will be selling their Christmas products directly to customers from October onwards, when Halloween is over. So while it may seem odd to be considering festive sales while it’s warm and sunny, the earlier you can prepare for the festive season, the better. Start to advertise your festive products late summer or early autumn at the latest.

2. Be personal and emotive online  

Post plenty of engaging posts on social media which encourage followers to interact with you. 

Lisa Morton, co-founder of Woof & Brew with Steve Bennett, said: “We’ve found that boring sales posts, even those offering 20 percent off, don’t go down half as well as the ones that are emotive. 

“Posts that go down best with customers are ones where we ask people what they will buy their dog for Christmas for example, or where we ask them to share photos of their pets. It’s all about building a relationship with the customers.” 

Posts encouraging pet owners to share a photo of their dogs with their Christmas presents from last year, and with hints on what they might buy them this year are just one example, as they may prompt others to see these gifts and look on your website to find something similar.

3. Humanise pets in your marketing  

Pets are very much part of our families and now customers are spending their money equally on their friends, family, and pets. According to recent research, pet owners will spend over £100million on their pets at Christmas time, with many thinking of spending more on their pet than their own partners. 

There is a huge market for human-inspired products, including Paw-secco and beer for dogs (non-alcoholic of course), and Christmas dinners for pets. Tapping into the humanisation of pets will help you to connect with customers. 

4. Offer freebies

Everyone loves a freebie, and those trays offering samples of cheese or miniature sample glasses of drinks are a welcome sight in stores, so why not offer the same for pets? 

Lisa at Woof & Brew said: “We have our store here and what people love is when their dogs are treated like family, so you could offer a few little samples for people’s dogs to try. People will love seeing their dogs being made a fuss of and it’s important to build up an emotive relationship with owners.” 

Why not even make a special event of it, where you offer a day or weekend with plenty of samples and discounted prices or special offers on some of the offerings. Advertise these events well ahead of time, both on your website and on social media, and create a Facebook event and invite your Facebook followers to attend.

5. Have some fun! 

Christmas is a joyful time and it’s important that you and your staff are seen to be engaging in some festive spirit (figuratively of course!) With the shops reopening after the pandemic, people will be more likely than before to want to escape the four walls of their homes and set foot on the high street once again.

Encouraging your staff to don Christmas jumpers and interact with customers will not only give your business a good reputation for customer service, but will hopefully boost sales if your staff build up a good rapport with the public. An eye-catching window display with decorations and a theme will also bring in customers. Encourage your staff to come up with ideas to make the process enjoyable. And if you are able, placing a greeter at the door to offer a warm welcome will make your customers feel valued.

6. Make the most of your email marketing 

Although some people who sign up for e-newsletters wish they hadn’t, newsletters are still the most efficient marketing tool at your disposal. According to New York Times best-selling author and web influencer Neil Patel, email marketing is still ranked as the most effective marketing channel, beating out social media, SEO, and affiliate marketing. 

Jo Clark Designs’ email newsletters are full of eye-catching content and images, as Jo explains: “I include the latest products available in the email newsletters, as well as special offers and the chance to order Christmas orders early.” Using good images of your products is key here, and try to include any offers and discounts high up on the page.

7. Remind customers to prepare their pets for Christmas 

Christmas is a busy time in the house with lots of visitors, and some pets won’t cope too well. To encourage owners to think of their pets’ well-being, as well as boosting your own sales, promote products such as cosy or igloo beds for pets to curl up in and escape to, toys that will keep them busy and occupied, and calming sprays. Use social media to share top tips on how to let your pet escape all the festivities if they want to, and encourage your online followers to do the same.

8. Point of Sale priorities

This is where impulse purchases can come into their own. These can be smaller gifts, priced at £10 or under, placed either at till points or at online checkout points. Online card and gift giant Moonpig is particularly known for offering related gifts when customers go to check-out. Offering popular or common additional gifts at till points may encourage impulse buys and boost sales.

9. Social media content planning 

As previously mentioned, social media plays a huge part in the promotion of a business and its sales. In the lead up to Christmas, especially from the end of November and beginning of December, start pushing your most important products and list their key features and endorsements. 

Advent calendar competitions offering a new prize every day from December 1 to Christmas Eve are always popular, and Your Cat Magazine has offered such a successful competition for many years. Even if you are not posting competitions or products daily, make sure you have some kind of daily post going onto your social media sites, which can include tips and advice, shared content, or even just a cute festive photo, every little helps. You can use social media to schedule posts to save you time too. 

10. Think last minute 

Let’s face it, many of us will panic and need to dash out to buy a gift at the last minute. This is where promoting ‘last minute gifts for under £10’ or stocking fillers will be a saviour — think of a good all-rounder gift that will appeal to all pet lovers. For the home lovers, a nice framed image of their dog, cat print items such as a scarf or cushion for cat lovers and so on. Advertise these last minute gifts prominently in store and on your website to prompt a little bit of panic buying. It is also worth mentioning last postage days on last minute orders here too to make sure customers receive their gifts in time for Christmas.