How do you compete with the big box stores? What do you do? Do what you do best.
It’s still a week until Thanksgiving and already stores have had their Christmas merchandise displayed for a month. We may not like it, but the big box stores are driving the start of the season.
But you can still compete by doing what you do best.
Personalize the shopping experience for your customers. One idea that has proven successful for a number of store owners is creating a Holiday Gift Guide to email your customers. Make it simple – VERY simple. This isn’t the time for a big complex catalog. Leave that to the big box stores. This is what we suggest for a more personal touch:
Of course, if you’re using CounterPoint Retail Software and “Customer Connect”, you’re way ahead of the game, because a lot of these steps are already built into the software.
Think about 3 to 5 gift-giving categories that fit your merchandise
For example: Gifts for Him, Gifts for Her, Gifts for the Beginner, Gifts for the Expert, Gifts for Dogs, Gifts for Cats…. And don’t forget Stocking Stuffer gifts – This category will make up in volume sold even if the prices are lower.
Pick 4 to 6 of your favorite gift items in each category
These could be items you have a lot of, items you’re getting great margins on, bestsellers, or just items you love. Remember – we’re keeping this simple, so no more than a half-dozen items. (Of course you can always add a note like "come in and see more of the delightful items we’ve picked for you".
Create a Word document with a page for each category (Not necessary if you have Customer Connect)
Add a picture of each item and a little bit of copy telling why it’s a great gift. Notice that I didn’t say "what it is" but “why it’s great”. (Of course if it’s a cherry pitter, you might want to say "this cherry pitter makes a great gift for….or because….".
Ask your vendors if they have professional shots of the items you’re featuring. They’ll most likely be thrilled by the free advertising. If you can’t get shots from your vendor, then take a picture with a camera or with your cell phone. You don’t have to strive for perfection here.
Include some kind of call to action
Prominently display your store name, location, phone number, an email address and a message like "Come shop with us today" on every page. If you have an eCommerce website, include the link.
Add a cover sheet, a table of contents, and a short letter from you (Customer Connect again!)
The letter is extremely important because this is an invitation to visit and shop with you.
Email your Holiday Gift Guide to your customers
If you have a Facebook page, post it there, or tweet it and put it on your Website. You can also include copies in the store for your shoppers.
Turn your Word document into a .pdf file (What can I say – not necessary with Customer Connect)
Google "pdf creator" and you’ll find many free programs that you can use.
And next year you can have CounterPoint and Customer Connect installed! Believe me, it’s money well spent.
Talk to you soon. ~Norma