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9 Easy Ways Small Retailers Can Attract Holiday Shoppers

9 Easy Ways Small Retailers Can Attract Holiday Shoppers

9 Easy Ways Small Retailers Can Attract Holiday Shoppers

Photo by Deluxe.comAmericans are ready to spend this holiday season. Deloitte’s 26th annual survey of holiday spending reports that three out of five consumers plan to spend the same or more this year compared to last. But with big-box retailers and e-commerce giants already slashing prices (and extending shopping hours) to lure budget-conscious customers, can a small brick-and-mortar retailer hope to compete?

The answer is yes. Many indicators point to customers seeking more personalized gifts this year. For instance, in the Deloitte study, the percentage of shoppers planning to give gift cards and cash declined from last year. Small retailers offer the personal touch that shoppers are looking for—and these nine strategies can get customers into your store.

1. Provide outstanding customer service. What separates your small store from the impersonal online experience? Service, that’s what. In a survey by Manta, 75 percent of small retailers say their focus on providing stellar customer service differentiates them from their competitors.

2. Get festive. Holiday shopping isn’t just goal-focused—it’s also emotional, so make sure your store puts customers in an upbeat, spending-oriented mood. Decorate your store, if possible have your employees dress festively, put out little treats like cookies or candy canes—anything that makes customers smile will encourage them to stay longer.

3. Make customers comfortable. “Relaxation Increases Monetary Valuations,” a study reported in the Journal of Marketing Power, found that people who were more relaxed were likely to spend more for products and services of all kinds.  Keep your store stress-free with soothing music, calming scents and (if you’ve got space for it) seating that lets shoppers (or spouses) rest their feet.

4. Encourage shoppers to “gift themselves.” In the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, nearly 60 percent of respondents plan to take advantage of retailers’ sales and discounts to make additional non-gift purchases for themselves and their families. Encourage this trend by offering discounts, promotions and specials and using marketing messages that entice customers to “treat themselves.”

5. Get online. You don’t have to sell online to benefit from the Internet. Make sure your store is listed and up to date on Chamber Directory and local search engines such as, Google Places and Yahoo! Local so that when customers are out shopping and looking for a store nearby, they can find you easily. Make sure your store address, phone number, hours of operation and a map or driving directions are easy to find on your listing. Also use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to alert customers about sales, events and specials in your store.

6. Get out in the community. There are all kinds of community events going on this time of year, and dozens of ways to get involved. You can sponsor a charity event, donate toys to needy children or provide meals to hungry families. By participating in the local holiday events that matter to your target customers, you’ll keep your store top of mind and build goodwill.

7. Host events. And make sure you add them to the Chamber Calendar through the Member Information Center It doesn’t have to be a big shindig; an event as simple as inviting customers to shop while enjoying fresh-baked goodies and hot apple cider can do wonders. You can hold invitation-only events for your best customers (and offer them special deals) or an open house for the general public. Consider holding events during traditionally slow days and times to increase traffic.

8. Let the dogs in. Being pet-friendly can help your bottom line, a recent eBay Local survey found. More than half (53 percent) of respondents say they like shopping in stores that allow pets, 33 percent are likely to spend more time there, 34 percent would return to pet-friendly stores again, and 31 percent tell their friends about these establishments. If pet-friendliness works for your store, set out a basket of dog treats to signal to customers their pets are welcome.

9. Shop local. Launched by American Express and held on November 30 this year, Small Business Saturday encourages customers to shop local, independent retailers and rewards them for doing so. This year, more than 200 public and private organizations are supporting the event. Visit the Small Business Saturday Facebook page to get details, ideas for how to promote the day to your customers, and marketing materials you can download and use.


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