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As the end of the calendar year approaches, and we are faced with the Christmas and New Year period, we are sharing how small businesses can bump up their sales and take advantage of this high spending time.

With the The National Retail Association (NRA) reporting that Australians are set to splurge $14 billion nationwide in the final week before Christmas, we are keen to hear from the experts what exact steps small business owners can take to reap further rewards over Christmas, and boost their bottomline.

We ask “What can SMEs do to boost sales over the Christmas and New Year Period?”

To learn more about sales generally, check out these tips and tricks also:

5 biggest sales pitching mistakes

Let’s Talk: Sales Secrets

Let’s Talk: End of year sales (2018)

Dave Scheine, Vend Managing Director for APAC 

The best way to boost EOY sales? Cater to last-minute shoppers. Consumers who are buying gifts this time of year will flock to retail stores that enable them to get in and out of the shop as efficiently as possible.

One way to do that is to sell gift cards. A survey by Deloitte found that gift cards were the top purchased holiday gifts, with 54% of consumers saying they plan to purchase them. As such, you should make sure you have enough gift cards in stock. To maximize sales, place them in high-trafficked areas of your store and on your checkout counter.

Having “done for you” gift options in the form of bundles can also boost your EOY sales. Identify items in your catalog that complement each other see if you can package them as a gift bundle that customers can buy as-is.

Colin Birney, Head of Sales and Business Development for Square Australia

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for retailers. In fact, last year Square data highlighted that December trade alone saw retail sales spike an additional 50%, compared to any other month, as Aussies spent big for the holidays. Here are three easy ways small business owners can make the most of consumer spending right now:

Offer a holiday discount. Shoppers love bargains — especially during the gift-giving season. So use physical signage, social media, email blasts or online chatbots, but make sure you can share your holiday promotions and discounts across multiple channels.

Sell gift cards. It’s a simple way to attract new customers and boost sales during the holiday season. Square offers ready-to-go physical and digital gift card starter packs that can be used immediately and tracked straight from your point of sale, so there’s no fuss with additional hardware or software.

Add summer perks to your loyalty program. Rewarding customers for shopping with you frequently is a great way to engage with your regulars and make them feel valued,  so why not offer some summer incentives to make sure they don’t forget about you over the holidays?

Jill Schoolenberg, Regional President for Australia, Canada and Latin America at GoDaddy

As the “silly season” kicks into full swing, many SMEs will now be thinking about how they can capitalise on the holiday rush. Ecommerce in Australia is growing rapidly, with online spending making up 10% of retail sales last year. So, to help generate more ecommerce leads over Christmas and New Year, retailers could consider boosting their online presence.

An eye-catching website can act as your business’ online shop front for consumers who search for gift inspiration and make purchases online. But with competition high during the festive rush, it’s important to find ways to stand out. This could be as simple as keeping online stores up to date, posting current beautiful high-res images of products and making important contact and delivery details prominent. Engaging on social channels like Instagram can add value as an additional platform to promote your business and steer people to your website or store. If customers can find you online because you provided a seamless experience and used online tools, such as GoDaddy’s Website + Marketing, both retailers and shoppers could be full of Christmas cheer during the busy season ahead.

Raju Vegesna, Zoho Chief Evangelist

There is, perhaps, no more important period for retailers than the festive season. While taking advantage of busy high streets will undoubtedly be a key focus, many consumers are now doing some, or all, of their shopping online. That presents great opportunities for SMEs.

The retail industry is competitive, so to boost your sales it’s important to implement a comprehensive customer acquisition plan. This is where you can rely on technology, automating crucial and time-consuming aspects of your business to save you time to focus on your customers. Your strategy will depend on whether your audience are millennials or baby boomers, broad or targeted. Once your target market has been identified, then use email marketing to send them deals and products that might appeal to them. If they don’t make a purchase immediately, that’s ok; you could automatically send a follow-up notification to any customer who added an item to their cart but didn’t complete their purchase. So, with technology assisting your online customers and you taking care of those on your shop floor, you may notice a sales spike this Christmas.

Craig Padoa, Country Manager, Wanzl Australia

For retail focussed SMEs, shopping is increasingly becoming an experience which appeals to all our senses. A good range of products or a wide choice alone is no longer enough to gain and retain customers. Light and sound, shapes and colours, as well as changing decorations are important factors in store and this shopping psychology goes to the extreme during the Christmas and New Year periods.

SMEs can boost sales by creating immersive shopping experiences, putting strategies in place that engage customer senses of sight, sound and even smell! Taking time to creatively re-explore the shop space in a way that puts customers in convenient access to your most popular products delivers boosted sales and long-term customer experience gains.

No one likes walking into an empty restaurant and the same applies for SMEs. Keep staff busy to encourage customers to explore and support this engagement with creative display areas that let your products sell themselves. It’s a time of impulse, so ensure supplementary offerings are well grouped and make yourself the complete solution for the season.

Shahrooz Chowdhury, Chief Product Officer at Liven

For any SMEs working in the retail and hospitality space, a store full of customers can go a long way in drawing in even bigger crowds. That’s why it’s critical for restaurant owners to encourage dine-in customers over the Christmas and New Year period if they want to boost sales. Dine-in customers are more profitable and have a higher lifetime value, and the holiday season is the perfect time to win them over and build loyalty with them for the year ahead.

At Liven, we help restaurant owners with this every day. The first challenge is to win customers back from the delivery tech giants. Our payments & rewards app helps our 600,000 foodies earn 10-35% in instant digital currency rewards on every easy one-tap payment they make for dining in, and this in turn helps build loyalty and retain regular customers. The second challenge is training staff to ensure you can properly welcome, onboard and upsell diners to give them an outstanding experience so they can indulge even more on higher margin drinks and deserts and spend more than non-Liven customers. By offering an exceptional dining, payments and rewards experience, customers will spend more and help you build a more profitable business.

Kylie Gleeson-Long, Managing Director ANZ, dunnhumby

The only way to ensure continued sales during the holiday period, is to provide customers with unique, personalised, and curated products and services relevant to them. In 2020, with heightened competition from discounters and rising customer experience expectations, retailers and SMEs will also begin exploring new revenue opportunities – and data will be the key to making this possible. Our research with Forrester highlights the importance of customer data in attaining sustainable business growth, particularly in the grocery retail sector.

To survive and thrive in the digital retail era, SMEs must leverage the mountains of data at their disposal to better understand (and in turn, predict) customers’ shopping habits. This will give rise to opportunities to invest and innovate on the end-to-end customer experience, but also foster loyalty and customer advocacy in the process. Those SMEs who fail to harness the power of customer data in 2020 however, will lose far more than just sales.

Kim Verbrugghe, Director of Product and Experience Design at Orchard

The average Australian shopper will spend 17% more on Christmas purchases in 2019 than last year, Ipsos estimates. If the stereotype of buying last minute gifts is true, SMEs must focus on the following to boost sales:

  • Group products in a way that plays on the last-minute shopper’s mindset e.g. “Funny gifts under $50” or “Gifts we can deliver by Christmas”. The Red Cross has done this particularly well offering products tailored to the recipient’s personality
  • Optimise websites for mobile. Take advantage of ‘on-the-go’ moments for customers to finish their shopping on the bus, at work, or over lunch
  • Surprise and delight customers with something that’s unique to your brand. Think of low-cost gifts with purchase. For instance, cute decorations for the tree, free gift wrapping, or extended warranties
  • Invest in social media. It’s the new window shopping, and the perfect place to spend marketing dollars this festive season. Consider placements in Facebook marketplace or Instagram stories, because a multi-channel approach is always more effective
  • Offer free and fast delivery including shipping. Don’t let shipping costs become the final, unfortunate blocker to closing a sale
  • Lastly, grab customers’ attention. Sell products in a funny, absurd, or even provocative way and be different

Gregg Ostrowski, Regional Chief Technology Officer, AppDynamics

As we enter the ‘Era of the Digital Reflex’, the use of digital services and applications has evolved to become an unconscious extension of human behaviour. For the first time, the digital customer experience – rather than the in-store or face-to-face experience – has become paramount. This is now considered the most important brand interaction to the consumer and SMEs must take note.

The recent App Attention Index Report highlights the demand for a flawless digital experience. It’s vital that retailers and SMEs proactively monitor digital performance, managing their end-to-end digital experience from both a technical and customer experience perspective. The real winners will be those that continually make enhancements to ensure their digital customer experiences meet and exceed growing expectations.

Ultimately, SMEs must keep pace with both their customers and the competition, by embracing the use of real-time, data-driven insights to drive customer loyalty and remain competitive throughout the holiday sales period. 

Adam Ioakim, managing director, APAC, Emarsys

For online retailers, the period between Black Friday and January represents far and away the most lucrative time of year. In fact, in 2018, the five weeks from 11 November to 15 December accounted for almost 15% of all ecommerce transactions.

When thinking about how to take advantage of consumers’ heightened purchase intent during the holidays, brands need to start thinking differently. Simply put, running mass promotions isn’t a scalable way to reach consumers and won’t build customer loyalty in the long term. Here are a few things that will:

  • Using historic data to market smarter and personalise communications with customers as much as possible
  • Pricing competitively and knowing what consumers will spend
  • Creating customemail campaigns, CRM ads and other “send-time optimised” communications to create a sense of urgency
  • Offering special discounts or incentives for top-tier and returning customers
  • Sending greetings, thank yous and/or small gifts to loyal customers to show good will

The opportunity around the holidays is immense. Brands that use data-driven marketing and focus on building customer loyalty will be the most successful.

Eamon Ridgway, National Strategic Manager 

Christmas is a critical time for small businesses which can really stretch the capacity of the sales team, so it is important to have customer support technology that ensures you never miss a sale. ipSCAPE is a cloud customer experience solution SME’s can use to connect with customers through Phone, Webchat, email and SMS that scales easily and is a pay as you go licence model so it is flexible for small businesses.

One particular ipSCAPE customer, doubles their customer support team during this time to cope with the increased inbound call activity. Employees can then assist customers on the phone and even through web chat which can drive increased conversions in sales.

This client also uses ipSCAPE’s outbound dialler to drive sales performance, by reaching more customers on the phone to remind them to put their orders in before Christmas.

Shannon Ingrey, Vice President and General Manager, APAC at BigCommerce

It’s predicted that Aussies will spend over $52.7 billion across retail stores in the leadup to Christmas – up nearly three per cent from last year! With this in mind, Aussie small and medium sized businesses need to do all they can to stand out from the competition and what better way than jumping on the holiday sales bandwagon!

However, sales are not just about reducing prices and moving stock. It’s more about building a name for the brand and establishing authentic relationships with customers. As these retail sales increase in popularity, and more brands get on board, it’s more important than ever that Aussie retailers do all they can to stand out from the competition.

This can be achieved by investing in customer experience throughout all touchpoints of a customer’s purchasing journey. From browsing on social media, to checking out – customer experience should be a top priority and is key to customer retention. Find what’s unique about your product and build experiences around this. If you’re selling products available through other retailers you need to over-invest in your customer service uniqueness.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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