Retailers, Try These Tips to Make the 2017 Holidays Your Best Ever

This is a guest post by Rieva Lesonsky

The holiday shopping season has officially started — and you’re so busy, you barely have time to read this post! So I’ll keep it brief. Here are eight things you can do to maximize your holiday sales.

1. Many happy returns

Is your return policy turning customers off? Some 75 percent of holiday shoppers research a store’s return policy before they buy, and 22 percent have skipped making a purchase because they didn’t like the policy. The biggest turnoff? Offering only store credit. More generous return policies will net you more sales this time of year.

2. Stay awhile

Does your store invite customers to step inside, then linger and browse? Make every inch of your store inviting, starting with the display windows and real estate right outside the front door. Inside, charm customers with holiday decor that reinforces your brand.

Don’t forget the importance of sensory touches like festive lighting and music. In the State of Brick and Mortar 2017 report by Mood Media, 84 percent of people say shopping in a store that’s playing music is more enjoyable, and 77 percent say music even makes waiting in line more bearable.

3. Tap into technology

Use mobile devices in-store to check stock levels, get product information, and speed up checkout. In the 2017 Global Shopper Study by Zebra Technologies, 40 percent of shoppers report they feel better connected to consumer information than store associates.

Yet, 53 percent of shoppers say store associates who have the latest technology improve the shopping experience, and even more appreciate it when store associates use mobile devices to assist them.

4. Act on impulse

Properly promoting impulse purchases can really boost your holiday profits. Display tempting impulse buys not just at the point of sale but along the path of your checkout line. Labels like “stocking stuffers,” “gifts under $10,” or “last-minute gifts” will help encourage sales.

Here’s a great example from Bob Phibbs. In his webinar on turning lookers into buyers, Bob talked about how one of his clients encouraged impulse holiday purchases at checkout. They displayed a sign on their counter reading “The gift you forgot!” and it successfully drove sales for the retailer.

And don’t forget about ancillary products. Display gift tags, greeting cards, gift wrap, and ribbons and bows near the checkout, and make it a practice for salespeople to ask customers if they need any of these items.

5. Speed it up

If there’s one thing holiday shoppers hate, it’s waiting in lines. Do everything you can to minimize wait times at the point of sale. Set up employees with tablets or smartphones to check employees out at stations throughout the store.

You could also add an “express lane” for small or cash-only purchases. And train all your employees to work the register so they can help when needed.

6. Time it right

Don’t let employee no-shows or schedule mix-ups put a crimp in your sales. Use cloud-based employee scheduling software to create, manage, and share schedules from your smartphone, desktop, or laptop. When the schedule is posted, your employees will know it immediately via email or push notification. With real-time updates on your side, they’ll be no room for excuses.

7. Stay stocked

Customers who battle their way through the parking lot and into your store don’t want to go home empty-handed. Use your inventory management software to stay on top of your stock levels so you don’t disappoint. Set your system to notify you of low stock, so you can reorder in plenty of time.

Despite your best efforts, did you still run out of something? The Global Shopper Study found 60 percent of out-of-stock incidents can be recovered if you offer the shopper a discount or alternative fulfillment method, like shipping the product to their home.

8. Don’t stop after Christmas

December 26 is traditionally a huge shopping day, and this year, December 30 is projected to be one of the 10 busiest shopping days of the year. To make the most of those post-holiday shoppers, spiff up your store and keep staffing levels high.

Train your staff to promote gift cards and encourage customers with returns to exchange instead. And don’t forget to urge customers to join your loyalty program, so you can keep marketing to them in 2018.


About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at and follow her on Visit Rieva’s website to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for her free TrendCast reports.