The rush of the holidays is exciting for everyone. Cheer is in the air; people are upbeat, and wallets are opened freely. As everyone shares this good mood, retailers reap rewards, usually experiencing a boost in sales. But in the period immediately following this buying frenzy, shoppers buy less, and sales entities can experience a sharp decline in their profits.
This post-holiday sales slump may seem bleak, but there are steps retailers can take to mitigate it, or in a best-case scenario sidestep it altogether. We’re going to explore these steps in this blog.
Understanding the post-holiday sales slump
First, if you’re experiencing a post-holiday sales slump in your company, you’re not alone. It’s very common in the retail industry. During this period, consumers feel tapped out and are reluctant to shop for more. Even if they are still in a buying mood, they want the rock-bottom bargains offered in clearance sales. The problem for sellers is that there are so many sales, it’s hard to compete for consumer attention.
Despite the gains made during the holiday period, the unfortunate results of this slump are a sharp decline in profits, reduced cash flow, and low inventory levels. Additionally, if a company doesn’t find a way to hold on to their customer base during this time, those shoppers could go elsewhere. Taken together, these factors can make it hard for a retailer to recover from the post-holiday lull.
There is hope, however. Below, we’re offering strategies you can take to mitigate, overcome, or completely sidestep the sales slump.
5 strategies to sidestep the post-holiday sales slump
1. Engage your customers.
Reaching out and making a connection with your customers allows you to form a relationship that keeps them engaged with your business. This doesn’t mean inviting them out for coffee; we’re talking on a marketing level, engaging with them via established online channels to let them know you’re around. When you do this, you’re giving them a sense of involvement that can tproduce new sales by making them regular customers.
Engagement strategies include:
- Promotions and discounts: A great way to encourage buys, they can be offered through special sales events, price cuts, coupon codes, and loss leaders.
- Loyalty programs: Here, a retailer encourages repeat business by offering points for every item purchased, points that can be accumulated and redeemed for benefits like discounts, free gifts, and exclusive access to special promotions – like maybe a local celebrity making a visit.
- In-store events: An event could be something like a visit from a local celeb, or it could just be an evening of wine and cheese as a meet and greet, a product demonstration, an opportunity to meet an influencer, or anything fun and engaging.
2. Market directly.
For a retailer, this comes down to direct marketing, sending out messages that promote the business. These digital flyers remind consumers about your company and encourage them to pay a visit. Put in marketing terms, they drive traffic to the store and increase brand awareness.
- Email marketing: Simple to put together and easy to get out, emails can be used to reach out to customers, but they’re most effective when they promote special sales, new products, or upcoming events. A good inventory management system like Cin7 Core lets you send out emails to a targeted group, if that’s in your interest.
- Social media marketing: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter. Any of these platforms can be used to reach out to your customers, old and new, and stir or renew their interest in your sales company.
- Influencer marketing: More for a younger demographic, online influencers hold great sway in the online world, and it’s a good idea to form partnerships with them. An influencer with a large following will not only increase your brand visibility, he/she will open you up to a wider customer base.
3. Manage inventory well
Sales entities sell so much during a holiday-buying season, they’re often left with their stock at a low level and are unable to fulfill orders afterwards. One way around this is to have inventory management in place. Here are some other actions you can take:
- Stock control: Tracking inventory and using your data to forecast demand is a great way to ensure there’s always enough in stock, even after especially busy periods.
- Product rotation: Rotation refers to new products replacing old ones over time as a continual process. Doing this encourages your customers to come back again and again, and it will keep your sales business fresh and relevant.
- Reverse logistics: This sounds technical, but it’s essentially the term used to describe what happens when an item is returned by the shopper and put back in the supply chain. For the purposes of this blog, we’re referring to retailers having a return policy, which they should. It lets customers know the company is reliable and encourages them to come back.
4. Encourage customer retention
Here are suggestions to keep your customers’ loyalty so they come back to buy from you again and again:
- Personalize the service: By this, we mean keeping a note of customers’ buying history and using it to make recommendations that are likely to appeal to them. For those with brick-and-mortar stores, a personalized service means greeting customers by their name as they walk in. It’s all about creating a positive shopping experience.
- Follow up: We’re referring to after-sales service, making contact with customers to check they’re happy with their purchases. There’s nothing better to encourage repeat business.
- Get customer feedback: Rather than making direct contact with each shopper to check everything’s OK, this involves more general follow ups, surveys, focus groups, and online reviews. It’s the best way for a retailer to find out what’s working in their business and what isn’t, so changes can be made.
5. Upsell and downsell
- Upsell: Encourages shoppers on your site or in your store to get the higher-priced or higher-quality version of the product they’re considering. This is done by highlighting the benefits of the more expensive item, and it means more revenue for the seller.
- Downsell: This practice is more about ensuring a sale than making more money. If a shopper is looking at a product but doesn’t want to spend the amount it’s priced at, they are persuaded to get the item in a different brand that costs less. The customer gets what they want – the retailer has the sale.
Avoiding a post-holiday sales slump by leveraging retail analytics
For retailers, numbers on stock levels, supply chains, consumer demand, sales, and returns provide a window into the business that highlights both weaknesses and strengths. With this insight, you can tailor policies to get over the post-holiday sales slump, and help avoid it in the future.
Overcoming the post-holiday sales slump is possible with the strategies we have discussed and the right automation and software. Cin7 Core, formerly DEAR Systems, is a good inventory management software that has all the tools needed to optimize inventory levels. By ensuring a well-run supply chain, it can help improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. Thus, it will help you stay ahead of the competition and, pertinently, keep that post-holiday sales decline at bay.
The next holiday is just around the corner, so don’t delay. Click here to schedule time with one of our experts, and experience the difference for yourself.