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How to Prepare Your Store for a Record-Breaking Holiday Season

With predictions of a record-setting holiday season, the time is now (and today, as we'll discuss) to prepare your store for 2018's holiday season. Here's how to get started.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EXTRA SHOPPING TIME 

During the 2017 holiday season, consumers spent 14.7% more online than they did in 2016, accounting for $108.15 billion in sales in November and December.

Most industry experts are predicting more record-setting sales this year thanks to a slightly longer holiday season.

In 2018, consumers have 34 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, the longest possible.

To stay competitive, make use of this extra shopping time. Start your holiday advertising campaigns—online and in-stores—in early November. Then, extend shipping cut-off dates as long as you can through December.

CAPTURE “TODAY”

Retail Dive reports that "today" will be the keyword for deliveries this year. A full 51% of shoppers are more likely to purchase from retailers with same-day delivery and millennials are 118% more likely to pay extra for the service. For those last-minute shoppers, this service is even more vital.

Does your store offer same-day delivery or pickup for online orders? List that everywhere, like:

  • In-store signs
  • Your website
  • Social media
  • Paid online ads
  • E-mail blasts

If your store doesn't yet, consider ways you can make it happen. Same-day delivery may not be possible for your store this year, but could you offer in-store pickup?

Consider that Amazon, with its free and fast delivery service Amazon Prime, is expected to hit $258.22 billion in retail e-commerce sales in 2018, up from 29% in 2017. Customers value these types of delivery services, highly. Ensure you prepare for the holidays by providing comparably fast and free delivery for your customers.

CATER TO FIRST AND LAST-MINUTE SHOPPERS

While preparing your store for 2018's holiday season, cater to at least two types of shoppers: your early birds and last-minute shoppers.

Early bird shoppers are interested in the story behind a piece. Inspire connection by sharing stories about the artist, any charities that sales benefit, and other important facts about a piece's value through signage, online videos, ad campaigns, or graphics on social media.

Then, remove any shopping friction for your last-minute shoppers. Hitwise reports that 12% of in-store visits and 14% of transactions occur in the last week before Christmas. Of the top ten online buying days of the holiday season, two take place in the last seven days before the holiday.

Bring in last-minute shoppers by:

  • Extending your holiday shipping cut-off dates as long as possible
  • Reducing shopping friction by providing gift wrapping, expert-curated collections, and other perks
  • Offering same-day pickup or delivery leading up to the holiday
  • Extending your holiday hours in the final days before Christmas
  • Providing easy-access gift cards online and in your store

PREPARE YOUR STORE

If Santa is making a list and checking it twice, you should be too. Be like Santa with your own pre-Black Friday holiday checklist that includes tasks like:

  • Corralling returns, misfit toys, and overflow items into a deeply discounted deals area
  • Using your counter and line spaces to advertise small, last-minute gifts for teachers, pet sitters, gardeners, and the like
  • Cleaning out your store so it's gleaming, welcoming, and gorgeous for first-time in-store shoppers
  • Creating space around your store for people to move around, using dramatic display areas to break up space and show off your high-profit items
  • If your store caters to younger shoppers, seeing if you can bring in self-checkout options
  • Preparing your back rooms for an uptick in demand, with easy access to must-have items

With a bit of work, you can ensure your store or website is the place customers want to be when they start their holiday shopping in 2018.