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09 Jan
Another holiday season has come and gone, and the subsequent post-holiday winter sales have begun. Both of these periods are critical for retailers, with holiday sales comprising a huge portion of many retailers total yearly sales and winter sales helping clear out any remaining inventory to make way for a brand new year. The sheer importance of these months makes planning out a sales strategy a very prudent time investment, as a well-executed plan can make a huge difference to the bottom line.
Plan Ahead – Way Ahead!
The holiday/winter sales seasons are important enough to begin planning for well in advance – so much so that it’s not unreasonable to start considering the 2013 holiday sales season already. One of the most important considerations through the year leading up to holiday sales is customer and brand loyalty. If you spend the year building up trust with your customers, they’ll be sure to come back to you during your holiday sales, even if you can’t manage to compete price-wise with larger “big-box” retail stores. Community involvement and localized sales through social media are great ways to encourage people to think of your store before the big name chains.

Don’t Forget To Look Back
Examine your sales inventories for the previous holiday seasons, and use this to help guide your purchasing decisions in the middle of the year. When it finally comes around to holiday sale time, you’ll have a good idea of what your customers will want from you, and just as importantly, when they want it.

Calculate Your Inventory Carefully
There is great advantage to matching up your inventory levels with your holiday sales numbers from previous years. Because of the heavy sales traffic in the weeks and months leading up to the holidays, you won’t need to offer large discounts to drive sales the way you will in January/February inventory clear-out sales. Also, make sure that if your calculations are off slightly, you don’t find yourself turning customers away because you can’t restock fast enough – make sure you’ve got a great restocking solution from your suppliers.
Track, Review and Improve
The most useful thing you can do to help maximise your sales is to track every piece of data that you possibly can – and not just from your own store, but also through competitor tracking. This seems like a hassle to many retailers, but it’s the core of good business, and many online sales and price monitoring tools can make this task easier. This will allow you to plan out your next year’s sales strategy more easily and more successfully by relying on hard data rather than simple intuition and guesswork. See what works, and see what doesn’t, and use that to revise and expand your sales for the next year.

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