Bushel is a software startup that provides better ways to setup and secure Apple devices. We don’t have a brick and mortar retail location. But my first job was managing retail POS systems back in the 90s and I’ve had a lot of friends who had retail locations over the years. And they’ve taught me some things. These things may or may not be appropriate for your organization, but they’re worth checking out!
- Start Now! You might be doing all of the things that we discuss in this article. You might have thought about some, but we trigger a reminder. You also might be thinking of new strategies for the first time. Wherever you are, the quicker you get started implementing, the more beneficial and purposeful your strategies will seem. 53% of holiday shoppers will be done shopping by December 10th!
- Check out the latest holiday trends. In your market, or micro-market, what are people shopping for? This might mean visiting your competition, window shopping at the big box stores, checking out what categories Amazon is really pushing, or even watching the dreaded commercials you’ve been skipping since the Tivo era. Of course, we should always go with our gut on what to stock, sell, and promote. But seeing what everyone else is doing might help to fortify your position (after all, it’s important to stand out), or it could make you think of something new to add to your inventory, promoted in your own way of course!
- Small Business Saturday has come and passed but Bushel encourages you to go ahead and mark your calendar for November 26th, 2016 and November 25th, 2017. As a small business, this is your time to shine. American Express and a number of other organizations can help to drive business your way. And of course, the point of the thing is all about you!
- Take any old form of payment. Chipped cards, American Express, Discover, cash. Don’t limit your business because you don’t take a certain form of payment. Within reason, of course! There are so many vendors supplying credit card options including Square, PayPal Here, QuickBooks GoPayment, and so many others, that accepting credit cards is simple these days. The worlds wide open for online sales as well, allowing you to take about any old credit card.
- Get a Loyalty Program. If you haven’t already found a way to incentivize your customers, check out Belly. Belly is a loyalty rewards program that can appeal to businesses and consumers alike. For more on Belly, check out https://www.bellycard.com! You can also use the good, old fashioned punch cards and stamps on cards. You know, buy ten, get one free type of stuff. The great thing about a program like Belly though, is you get an online presence driving business your way.
- If you are brick and mortar, sell online. I talk to a lot of people who have managed to successfully take a traditional brick and mortar into 7 figures worth of new business opportunities by selling inventory online. Most would have already explored this. And options range from getting listed as an Amazon seller, posting items to eBay, or even building your own shopping cart using a myriad of available tools. Building your own solution isn’t nearly as expensive or complicated as it used to be. Getting help with that is about as competitive as one of those intersections with a matress store on all 4 corners. It can be as simple as getting a store on a site like Etsy. And if you’re an online seller, get a brick and mortar partner (or location, but partner is much simpler).
- Personalize the customer experience. Would Norm have kept showing up at Cheers if they didn’t know his name? Maybe. But they did. Personalizing a customer experience can be as simple as actually remembering a customers name and preferences. 86% of customers are willing to spend 25% more for a more customized experience. If you have a site, it can also be as simple as remembering what they like to shop for or putting nice things for people on your site. Nordstrom, Ikea, Target (think Cartwheel), even Walgreens are into this kind of thing. There are companies like Umbel who are revolutionizing this industry. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for someone who fits with the look, feel, and size of your organization. If a price makes you balk, then by all means, keep looking for a solution to help you automate this. Or at least, do so once you can’t remember everyone’s name any more. But do make sure to tell everyone happy holidays. As a consumer I’m sure you love that too!
- Partner up with a non-profit. When I read Louis Gerstner’s iconic Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, one of my favorite parts was at the very end when Gerstner covered how he transformed the ways that IBM gave to help the community. He was a great CEO for his time, and he had a much more mature outlook on giving back than many. He wanted IBM staff to be in the community, involved, transforming the community no only with cash from the company, but also with the expertise they brought to the table. Many of their outreach programs from his tenure at IBM in the early 90s are alive and well today, continuing to impact communities across the world. If you are a small retailer, consider partnering with a local non-profit, rather than the easy choice of working with a large non-profit. Partnering with an organization with similar values is great. I prefer not to think about something like this driving business to me. It’s about community. But during the holiday season, retailers have so little time that many of these efforts end up getting mixed up. The easy way to get involved here, is to tithe a certain percentage of profits for a limited time to a non-profit. Another way is to get out there and do something meaningful. Yet another is a food or collection drive at your location. It’s all great stuff, and whatever cause you choose to support is likely to be happy to have the help and attention you can bring.
- Gift cards are a great way to let your loyal customers help you find more customers. 83% of companies use employee incentives and those customers can return, not to mention they’ll spend money. Gift cards also drive more than $100 billion in revenue annually. Overall, gift cards can drive business your way and getting relationships with companies can be a great way to make some quick revenue! Consider gift card discounts, and using them to promote bundles. A great way to get started with gift cards is Clover. And Clover gives you access to Gyft, a great way to leverage another organization’s gift card selection to drive business your way.
- Promotions. I’ve never been a huge fan of sales. Some types of businesses need to use them. I get that. But I typically figure that if something is on sale, I can always get it at that price, because I now know the margin the vendor has. Promotions don’t mean the same thing as sales, or discounts. Promotions might mean that you have Santa Claus in your store and are giving away free prints of photos. Or a promotion might mean that you’re giving double the loyalty points for a limited period of time. By taking an actual price reduction off the table and providing more services using a given code, you’re bound to provide a better experience to your customer and give you a good reason to post something on a site like Retail Me Not or Coupons.com.
Keep in mind that getting listed with sites like Gyft, Coupons.com, Retail Me Not, Etsy, Belly, and many other great sites will drive long-term business your way. How? Well, those links to your site makes it easier for search engines to find ya’! Most excellent.
Good luck this holiday season. So much you can do, so little time. Prioritize what makes the most sense to you. And kill it this holiday season. If you found this article, you darn well deserve it!
And of course, whatever apps you load up to help your business succeed. Make it easier to maintain them and keep them secure with Bushel.