How can brick-and-mortar retailers compete against online retailers to get their fair share of last-minute shopper's wallets? There is a straightforward advantage your physical store has: you are local.
40% of shoppers will have waited until the last ten days before Christmas to buy gifts. The last day for Priority Mail to arrive in time for Christmas is December 21.
Yes, expedited shipping is available, but it can be costly - even for online retailers. That means last-minute shoppers will likely be in your mall, strip center, or downtown area with extra cash this week.
And these shoppers don't want to go from store to store; they want a one-stop shop that removes stress. That can be your store if you refocus your goal from getting consumers out as quickly as possible to getting them to buy as much as possible.
I know this is the time of year when local news pushes stories about how stores use retail psychology tricks to make customers spend more. They approach it the wrong way.
You're not doing something to make shoppers do something they don't want to do.
This is how you make money in a retail business.
Here are 9 tips to get last-minute holiday shoppers to cross off more items on their lists at your store:
1. Give a shopping basket. If you don’t already have shopping baskets, get them – now. Paco Underhill first reported that 75% of people who take a basket buy something versus 34% who don’t. To grow your retail holiday sales, don’t ask, give. Walk up to a shopper, hold out the basket handle, and say, “Here you go. It’ll make your shopping easier.” While some will refuse, some will protest but still take the basket and buy more because their hands are free. Others will happily take it and say thank you. And you’ve just made their shopping experience even nicer.
2. Empty their arms. If you are a clothing store, sporting goods, or other retailer where baskets aren’t practical, your crew should still be walking up and offering to take the clothes or items from the shopper so they can be more relaxed while looking around. Yes, some will refuse, some will think about it, and some will accept.
Make this your mantra: full hands equals fewer sales.
3. Keep ‘em in the aisles. Keep your best associates on the selling floor and avoid ringing up sales or wrapping gifts. Their goal is to increase add-ons. As they finish helping loyal customers, ask, "Who else is on your list?" It works wonders to drive December sales.
4. Spotlight A No-brainer Gift. Select one of your products that retails under 15 dollars, - even better under 10 - by the register, ideally pre-wrapped with a sign that says, "A gift for the person you're bound to forget." The key is to have one product that doesn't require any thinking and can pickup in seconds. The shopper has to get it like a USB charger for $9.95 rather than a tiny book of pithy quotes by Margaret Thatcher.
5. Ship it. While UPS and the rest will be challenged, there’s still time to sign up for a local delivery service. Millennials hate to carry too much – they’d rather have it shipped. Notice I didn’t say free – it’s a value add. At the same time, make sure to offer BOPIS so shoppers buy online but pickup in your shop.
6. Cut the line. If you offer gift wrapping, ensure a separate line for pickup away from the queue to pay. Make sure to get their cell phone number so you can text them when it’s ready, and add their name and number to your CRM so you can market to them in January.
7. Heads up.Always instruct your managers to have their heads up and look around the store to see who has been waiting a long time, who has a question, and which cashier is not up to it. They must be able to step in as appropriate to keep your store moving.
8. Keep it clean. Ensure your part-timers or even a young relative clean and organize your store. During the holidays, one of my earliest bosses told me, “Your job is to keep us looking good.” People are more stressed than ever with less time, and they are going to quickly leave those stores that make them trip over things or hunt and peck through messy shelves.
9. Work the line. Particularly this week, when lines get too long, and people have to queue up, have a few impulse items along the way. The key is to keep them with general interest but not too many choices or price points.
You can also use the classic add-on or upselling technique of adding fear. David DeCarlo told me, "On New Year's Eve at the liquor store, everyone who brings up a small bottle we say 'Don't you want to get the big bottle? It will be 1 a.m., you will run out, and we will be closed.' Works every time."
Don't forget to use social media marketing to drive people into your store by describing last-minute deals or extended hours - even click and collect or order through your mobile app in the middle of the night.
Many retailers seem averse to looking for new ways to get customers to spend more, but that's a big mistake during the holiday season, as most retailers make 20% or more of their sales in December. You should always be looking for any way you can to increase sales.
The better you adopt these quick tips to increase your retail holiday sales during December, the more you'll put them into place throughout the year.