September 27, 2022

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Even though we’re only at the end of summer, retailers have already spent months prepping for the holiday shopping season.

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And due to a whirlwind of factors – including inflation, supply-chain crises and consumer spending habits that have changed during the COVID-19 lockdown – retailers are looking forward to a shopping season that’s even longer than usual. Promises to be challenging.

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It’s important to prepare for the holiday season, because Black Friday and the weeks following can make or break a brick-and-mortar store, said Richard Rizzica, partner and co-founder of Beta Agency, a commercial real estate agency that specializes in Say, that is a commercial real estate agency based in Los. Angeles. Rijika was also the Vice President of Retail Services Group at CBRE, one of the largest commercial real estate investment firms in the world.

“Many traders haven’t made money this year and are relying on that push to produce profits during the holiday season,” says Rijka. “If things fall flat, or you miss merchandise or the consumer just doesn’t show up, it can be sad.”

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Thankfully, there are things business owners can do to differentiate themselves in a shopping environment that’s even more cutthroat than usual.

1. Find out about holiday sales quickly

Gone are the days when customers were lazily walking around the neighborhood or mall and flocked to the stores. Today’s consumers are doing more research than ever before stepping into a store, says Sean Turner, co-founder and chief technology officer of e-commerce technology company Swiftly.

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“I think the biggest thing is being able to get the word out effectively for consumers to celebrate savings and deals,” says Turner. “Consumers have planned a lot.”

It’s a smart strategy for retailers to advertise their upcoming holiday sales as much as possible: through in-store signs, yes, but mostly through their websites and social media presence. Those are the platforms customers are checking out before they choose to visit a store, especially if they plan to spend more on generally non-essential items.

“Show them the big savings and deals to drive that journey,” says Turner.

2. Better Yet, Start Selling Before Your Competitors

Sure, you can get customers excited about your upcoming sale. You can see those sales roll out even earlier than your competitors, and even before the holiday season, unofficially starting with Black Friday (November 25 this year).

“If you’re a retailer and a good operator to get those deals available first, fear not,” says Jason Baker, principal at Baker Katz, a Houston-based retail brokerage.

Even if you can’t start your historic sale before the holiday season, consider offering a short sale now to entice shoppers to your store. If they’re not familiar with your brand, those sales can bring customers back to complete their holiday shopping with you in a few months.

“Retail is an early bird game,” says Turner. “The first place you see a deal and you decide to buy it — guess what? It’s a product you’re not buying from another retailer.”

3. Have a Top Notch Website

If your store doesn’t already have a website, it’s too late to do so before this year’s holiday season, Baker says. If you have one, make sure it is at least fully operational, user-friendly and completely up to date on your current inventory and availability. This is a great time to polish your social media presence as well.

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“Retailers can optimize their websites for heavy holiday traffic by clearly marking which merchandise is out of stock or unavailable and sharing delivery options,” says Peter Messana, CEO of e-commerce software company SearchSpring. doing.”

Of course, these improvements aren’t just needed for the holiday season. According to CBRE, excluding purchases of cars and restaurants, about 17.2% of all retail sales take place online. According to a 2021 survey conducted by the creative design directory Visual Objects, nearly 80% of shoppers search a store’s website before visiting a brick-and-mortar storefront.

The best retailers, Rizika says, “are not only attractive while they’re open—they’re also engaging when they’re closed.”

“Speak to the consumer and sell to the consumer when your doors are closed, whether it’s with a great website or social media, through your ability to connect with them online,” Rijka says.

4. Create an Inviting Space That’s More Fun Than Online Shopping

It’s no longer enough for a brick-and-mortar storefront to showcase top products and services. Today’s businesses need to make stores a destination that goes even better than the convenience of online shopping.

“For me to use the store as a competitive advantage is something that the small business needs to learn,” says Rijka.

These improvements are not huge. If you’re in a temperate climate that allows year-round patio seating, consider setting up some chairs or tables outside your store if permitted. Maximize your store’s natural light. Plant some beautiful, space-making plants around the shop. Well, see if the shop front has room for a comfy sofa or some stylish chairs.

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The point is to think of small ways to activate the space.

Rijika says, “Owners are thinking about their niche as a brand, and trying to connect their brand with the consumer, is something you see that great retailers have done for a long time. and more and more retailers are starting to recognize that trend.” “All these things that have become more and more important to us as consumers.”

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