Tweet Chat Transcript Shine Bright This Holiday Season

Q: What recommendations do you have regarding opening time for Black Friday? Trends are getting earlier and earlier.

A: If other stores in your area r open, u should b too 4 ur customers BUT If ur store is special, people will shop there ALL season so don’t get caught up BF open early craze.

Q: What if I’m an independent? Not near other stores? Different than if I’m in a mall with lots of #BlackFriday #retailers?

A: Need to be open 4 your customers. If an isolated store thats ok but if other neighboring stores are early, u should be too. Note that u should communicate your hours to ur customers in advance though!

Q: How can I compete with the big stores, especially when they can offer all kinds of crazy Black Friday promotions? #retailconcepts

A: Make it a holiday in store, offer items and services not elsewhere. Unless you can compete on price, don’t #retailconcepts

Q: If your customers will come anyway, and you are not hurting for sales, open at a reasonable hour that works for u?

A: Do something special, breakfast, drinks, team up with other stores for a block party.

Q: Any stats on what consumers are expecting in terms of sales?

A: Different for every store…depends on product mix and competition. Customer must be made to feel it was worth the trip. Most expect big sales at big boxes on big-ticket items, electronics. If you have items not found elsewhere, customers will b less likely to be shopping on price/sales.

Q: My store was hit by hurricane Sandy, how can I be there for my customers and not miss out on the entire holiday season? #retailconcepts #Help #Holidays2012

A: Try a pop-up nearby, offer online specials so they don’t have to come to a location, make deliveries, do everything you can to help ur customers. #retailconcepts

Q: What are some things I can do in my store to make holiday shopping more fun 4 my customers? #retailconcepts #RetailIdeas #Holiday2012

A: Make it festive! Have music, hot drinks & basics like wrapping, simple returns/exchanges and ongoing contests/ events #retailconcepts

Follow up Q: What about my no food/ drink policy?! I can’t afford spills… #Help #RetailConcepts

Follow up A: You should check out last month’s newsletter, in our eyes, there should be NO rules in retail

Q: There is so much going on around the holidays, what marketing can I do that will stand out from everything else? #retailconcepts #HolidayTweetChat #2012

A: Use social media. Make use of database. Email customers, give out samples, hold events, get signs and employees on sidewalk, have fun. And make sure that FB, Twitter, website are all consistent with your marketing.

Q: Should I have a giftwrapping station for the holidays or should my employees offer to gift wrap for free? #retailconcepts #HolidayTalk

A: Why not both? Let customers take wrappings home if in a hurry and offer 2 do it 4 them, include something branded in package

Q: Does it make sense to have extended hours during the holiday season? Some days are busy and some are very quiet…I don’t want to annoy my customers! #HolidayHelp

A: If you are in on a mainstreet/shopping area, you don’t want to disappoint customers by being closed. Make it fun with coffee/donuts in AM, hot choc/champagne in PM.

Q: If a store can’t afford free shipping is there something else that can be done for customers to offset that?

A: Shipping minimum that makes sense for your business. Special packaging/DIY wrapping included/gwp.can also include samples or other small branded items for element of surprise

Q: Is it reasonable 2 take time off after the holidays? I don’t want to run my team into the ground but need to b open 2 accept returns. #HolidayQuestion #retailconcepts

A: You should be open for your customers 1st & foremost. Start planning coverage now so that everyone gets a little time off. Treat the team to something special after the craziness dies down

Q: Should I have a special holiday return policy? #RetailConcepts #HolidayTweetChat

A: Your holiday return policy should be the same as your year round policy: simple, no hassle, and cash back (yes we know you hate that!) #retailconcepts

Q: How should I handle all my staff requests for time off for the holidays, holiday parties, etc.? #RetailConcepts

A: Make a cutoff for all special requests, work as best you can to accommodate but your employees should understand that customers comes first

Q: Should we allow employees to make schedule changes on their own? #RetailQuestion #Holidays2012
A: That is up to you but you should always know what’s going on in-store- never have a question about who is there. That being said, NEVER have one person in-store. The buddy system is vital in retail.
Q: What should we do if customers are using mobile apps to check our prices? #Help #MobileIssues

A: Let them! You shouldn’t be competing on price alone. If they are in your store, help them, price match & give them other reasons to buy from you & not walk out empty handed! #RetailConcepts

Q: What does it mean if we do not have a great day on Black Friday? #RetailWorrying

A: Black Friday is not as important as the media makes it out to be. Focus on having a consistently strong holiday season and don’t worry about the hype.

Q: Everybody hates Dec. 26th, how can that day be made less stressful? #Returns #Holidays2012

A: Add some fun to the day. Refreshments (mimosas, hot chocolate, cider donuts etc.) & extra empowered staff will keep the day running smoothly #RetailConcepts

Q: Is Black Friday really important to my holiday season?

A: No, it is one of 365 shopping days…focus on the big picture. Most of all, remember it is just one day to enjoy and do your best and it’s not close to the big deal the media makes of it.

Q: Should I offer a discount on Small Business Saturday?

A: No necessarily. You should get some inherent traffic on this day, including new customers. Wow w/ your assortment, staff robustly & create some fun. Discount is not always the impetus for purchase.

Q: Should I place merchandise orders in December or should everything be in by then?

A: You should ALWAYS be infusing newness into your assortment. Its a key component of retail success.

Q: Should I mark everything down in the store on Dec. 26?

A: Take a critical eye to your assortment and liabilities. Fall/Holiday should be out of your store at the end of January so be strategic.

Q: A lot of my vendors have a “resort” collection for the end of December/beginning of January. Should I buy it or is everyone focused on markdowns then?

A: You should ALWAYS be infusing newness into your assortment. If the delivery makes sense to your customer, buy it. If not, think about buying in-season off-price to bring in new.

Q: It seems like all of the big stores have a ton of markdowns before Christmas. I don’t think I can do that to compete? Should I?

A: You should always be looking to get rid of slow movers. You want to have a markdown presence that makes sense to your store and your customer 365 days/year.

Q: It seems like all of the big stores have a ton of markdowns before XMAS I don’t think I can do that to compete, should I? #RetailConcepts

A: You should always be getting rid of slow merch and have MD presence that makes sense to your store/customer 365 days

Q: #RetailConcepts Do you recommend any particular social tools?#Hootsuite@snapretail ? And FB, Pinterest, Instagram are the big onesl?

A: Hootsuite and others are great to simplify. Just remember that posts must be geared towards medium… if you post to FB followers, it is different than how you react to Twitter, Instagram. Customers know if you reuse content. u only have so much time. Use social medium only if ur customers/target market do, If not on instagram, don’t waste time.

@Retail Concepts  I found #hootsuite to be useful but you still must interact and not sound scripted.

Pinterest is great 4 contests, top ten lists, showcasing product and then matching in store marketing.

@Retail Concepts So a fish tackle store might not want to use #instagram but a cute boutique would definitely want to get in on that.

Exactly but only if that boutique has younger audience that uses instagram, less likely to be baby boomers

Yes, that is very important. Each post must be geared towards recipient.

Q: #RetailConcepts How can you be careful of over discounting? What basic tips might you recommend? #lostprofits

A: discounting–take a critical eye to sales reports vs inventory. Discounts need to be meaningful, not cause everyone else is.

Q: Where do independent retailers source talented visual merchandisers for store displays? Seems they are hard to find?

A: Yes, they are hard to find. Most are too expensive for independents or work for the big corporations in house. Many small design firms do offer these services (one we have seen recently is oak street design in Chicago) but to retain a firm to do this on a regular basis (you should be changing your displays constantly so the customer never sees the same thing twice and has reason to come back into your store!) can be cost prohibitive. Merchants should integrate their merchandising and displays into their full marketing plans and have them consistent with all other marketing. Most owners can get creative (or find an employee who is) while maintaining a budget and have fun and unique displays and windows without paying someone else!