All fashion and retail professionals know that the holidays are the busiest shopping season of the year. This time can be incredibly fruitful, especially for those who go into the season with a plan. Businesses that play their cards right when it comes to holiday planning for fashion and retail can truly make the most out of this busy season. This guide will help you plan intelligently this holiday season.

Determine Your Holiday Goals

Businesses that want to have a successful holiday season need to establish the goals they plan on reaching this year, and create a plan centered around those goals. Of course, there is the obvious: attract customers and increase sales. But another major goal that some businesses forget to touch on is attracting loyal customers. You’ll likely get a lot of new eyes on your business this holiday season, particularly from people who are exploring new businesses as they are shopping for their loved ones. It is important to think beyond the holidays, and see how you can keep yourself on their radar (we will touch on that later). Once your goals are established, you can start building out your holiday marketing ideas and other necessary business plans.

Cater to the Different Types of Holiday Shopper

Holiday shoppers are diverse. It is smart to cater to the various needs and shopping habits of different types of shoppers. This will help you attract the widest range of customers.

One incredibly common holiday shopper type? The procrastinator. A 2018 survey found that 24% of respondents had planned to do their final purchases on the weekend before Christmas, while 7% said they’d still be shopping on Christmas Eve. In order to reel these last-minute shoppers in and prevent them from going to a competitor, offer expedited shipping so that they can get their online shopping gifts in time. A “buy online and pick up in store” option is also a great feature for these types of shoppers who are pressed on time and won’t be able to sort through racks and shelves. Brick-and-mortar retailers can also encourage these procrastinators to get to the store earlier than planned by promoting sales with an emphasis on the fact that they will only be running for a limited time.

Many shoppers are also looking for great deals around the holidays – especially those with long lists of gifts that need to be purchased. One of the best holiday marketing ideas is to send past customers emails or to target potential customers with social media ads promoting holiday savings. Once they’ve shopped, these deal-seekers will feel good about how much they’ve saved by shopping with your business.

Offer Holiday Perks and Deals that Close Deals with Customers

Retailers will be bringing out the big guns this holiday season. In order to stay ahead of the competition and ultimately have customers do their holiday shopping at your business, offer perks and deals that will sweeten (and close) the deal. One of the best ways e-commerce businesses can do this is by offering free shipping, since high costs of shipping is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment.

Limited-time sales and deals will also encourage customers to finalize their shopping plans with your business, especially when they know they only have a certain time window when they can do so. Daily deals on certain items are a great way to do this. As part of your holiday planning for retail, create a plan to offer special deals on certain items that you can promote each day. These super-short sales will create a sense of urgency, encouraging customers to take advantage of them while they can.

Tiered discounting is another great offer to make around the holiday season – and it will be particularly attractive to the deal-seeking holiday shoppers. Offering tiered discounts – such as 10% off orders of $150, and 15% off orders of $250, and so on – encourages customers to do more of their holiday shopping at your store so that they can save the most. Since so many consumers have long holiday shopping lists to get through, this is the perfect incentive around this time of the year. It helps them save money and time – it is a win-win. You could also offer tiered discounts in the form of gift cards, such as giving $20 gift cards when a customer makes a purchase of over $100. This encourages customers to come back after the holiday season, planting the seed for a long-term customer relationship.

Add Online Features to Help Gift Buyers

Make it easier for online shoppers to find the perfect gift on your website. Consider adding gift guide pages. You can organize these guides by price (for example, “Gifts Under $50”, “Gifts Under $100”, etc.), or even a shopper’s relationship to a person (“Gift Ideas for your Boyfriend”, “Gift Ideas for Mom”, etc.). For brand fans who want to give a loved one a hint, add a wish list feature. This will make it easier for someone interested in your brand to let a friend or family member know what they want – and will make it far more convenient for this person to shop at your brand over a competitor.

Don’t Abandon Mobile Optimization

In 2018, 49% of consumers used their mobile device to do their holiday shopping – and that number is expected to continue rising. If these shoppers aren’t able to easily do their shopping on the mobile version of your website, they’ll likely turn to a competitor with better mobile optimization. When doing your holiday planning for retail this year, add website mobile optimization to the list so that customers will stay on your site. Even better? Offer an app for your business where customers can do their shopping. You can also attract customers to the platform by offering in-app exclusives, such as early access to holiday items or sales that can only be found on the app.

Strengthen Your Customer Service

Both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers need an extra-strong customer service department to handle the increase in inquiries and demands over the holiday season. One of the most important steps in the process of holiday planning for fashion businesses is training your team (and hiring new customer service representatives, if needed) so that they can confidently, effectively, and efficiently handle customer questions and issues. Make sure your customer service representatives are fully aware of any unique policies during the holiday season (such as a longer return period time), and that this information is updated on the website. Also be sure that the FAQ section on your website is up to date and adequately filled out – this will take some of the stress off of your customer service reps, and make matters easier for customers, as well.  

Keep Stocking Stuffers in Mind

There may be an emphasis on big-ticket items during the holiday season, but promoting smaller stocking stuffers can be lucrative, as well. If your brand sells items that are appropriate for stocking stuffers, use this opportunity to market them as such online and in-store. You can designate a stocking stuffer page online so that customers looking for larger gifts can also get these smaller items checked off their list. Consider adding a “Suggested Items” area as well in the cart so that they can add them as they are finalizing their purchase. In brick-and-mortar stores, consider creating a stocking stuffer display by the checkout counter to encourage customers to add these smaller pieces to their basket.

Post-Holiday Expectations

Once the new year rings in, you might think that your holiday planning for retail is over. While the busiest shopping season of the year may have come to an end, there are still some post-holiday happenings you need to be prepared for.

First, you need to be aware of the inevitable holiday returns. Gift receivers are returning items that didn’t work for them, and shoppers are returning holiday party garments that they didn’t end up wearing. You need to expect and be prepared for this influx in returns. While there is certainly a slump during this time, the month after the holidays can be incredibly fruitful if you implement some smart holiday marketing ideas. You likely have new customers on your mailing list from online orders, or a general increase in brand recognition by gift-shoppers who stopped by your store. Take advantage of this new customer base and find ways to build stronger relationships. Send out a marketing email introducing new customers to the brand, promote a post-holiday clearance, or do a giveaway. There are plenty of ways you can engage these new customers so that they continue shopping with you through the year – and return when the next holiday shopping season rolls around.

Categories: FashionTips