Savvy Holiday Planning

There is always hype around Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but it can’t be denied that Christmas lists and holiday shopping begin well before the Thanksgiving turkey has been carved. A recent NRF consumer survey reveals that more than 37 percent of shoppers plan to have some holiday shopping completed before Halloween. And retailers are happy to stock their shelves earlier and earlier each year, chasing the estimated $450 billion in holiday spending. But like last minute shoppers left in the lurch, retailers’ last minute preparations for the holiday season could potentially leave them without what they want most: sales. There is an exhaustive list for holiday planning, which includes well oiled operations, proper staffing, and promotional campaigns. While retailers contemplate what seasonal merchandise and hot gifts to sell, as well as investing large sums of money in online, social media and print advertising campaigns, they are well advised to pay attention to details that are otherwise left to the last minute, which could significantly affect their bottom line.

Proper Holiday Planning Can Have a Positive Effect on the Bottom Line

For instance, plan a seasonal redesign. Merchandise doesn’t have to be all that catches your customer’s eye. With the right staging, displays or floor plan, more merchandise will make it to the checkout lane. A redesign, however, should be planned out and occur before new inventory comes in. “Don’t wait till the last minute,” suggests Mick Thaxton, national sales manager of Newood Display Fixture Manufacturing. “Sometimes, once a retailer gets a fixture in and gets it merchandised, they realize they could have done something similar in another area of the store. By then, the peak rush has passed.”

Newood’s brick and mortar customers can select from 20 plus product lines, ranging from $10 to $2,000, to help with any store design or merchandising plan. Available store display fixtures include cash wraps, point of purchase displays and show booths, direct from the manufacturer with no minimum purchase requirements. For the holiday season, “Fixtures that would help a retailer sell impulse items, such as slatwall spinners or nesting tables, do best. Also, units that help make use of valuable areas like the checkout counter or end cap displays are popular,” says Thaxton. Any type of unit that turns an unused area into a profit center is what retailers should consider. As with any tool, a retail display is only a means to an end, and in the hands of a skilled user, any retail display fixture can be a creative and effective way to bring in sales.

Another forgotten detail is inventory; not the inventory that your customers will hopefully purchase and place under the tree, but the inventory of supplies needed for displaying, marking and packaging merchandise. Jennifer Chapman, director of ecommerce for The Nu-Era Group, suggests, “Retailers should order more than they need. And while they may buy multiple box sizes or gift wrapping patterns, their customers could prefer only one, and retailers will want to make sure they don’t run out.” And with 10,000 products offered online, independent retailers can easily stock up on anything and everything they might need, including hangers, tissue paper, bags and boxes. The Nu-Era Group has not only been able to supply its customers for over 60 years with multiple products, but with a variety in each product category. “For instance, we have 38 sizes in standard white gift boxes that can range from $20 to $110 dollars,” says Chapman.

Supplies can easily be forgotten when promotional planning and other inventory needs are being considered during the hustle and bustle of preparation, but they are a big part of holiday sales. Retailers may not offer gift wrapping, but as shoppers are looking for value added services to decide who to shop with, these may be the type of low cost supplies that will bring in higher sales. Inventory is a delicate balance involving cash, sales and projection. It is not easy and not an accurate science, but could mean the difference between success or failure during the holiday season.

While advertising and promotion are not a forgotten aspect to holiday preparations, low cost, effective advertising is often overlooked for more expensive and sometimes unnecessary campaigns. Chapman mentions, “Custom printed bags and boxes are an affective and affordable way to advertise. People are buying your merchandise, why not make sure they are walking out of your store with your name and information on the bag for other shoppers to see.”

President of Halmark Systems, Mark Crean, tends to agree. “We do lots of business this time of year in custom printed labels and tags,” he says. “The retailer can put their name, number and address on the label and stick it right on the merchandise.” Selling pricing guns and labels to retailers across the board, Halmark Systems is a well recognized name associated with an everyday necessity required by most stores, but during the chaos of holiday preparation, the importance of pricing guns and labels may be an afterthought.

However, if you are looking to have some custom printed labels or tags made, you have to consider the time needed to make a printing plate and all that follows, including shipping. Luckily, there are standard labels that do the job, as “The same pricing gun used in everyday labeling and pricing can also be supplied with all types of promotional labels, including sale, discount, special or fluorescent red,” notes Crean. “Retailers should take advantage of those labels; they will help in pushing products.” These are the types of promotions retailers are looking to market in their stores, especially around the holidays, and all on one small label. Any productive dollar spent during the year will become more productive during the holiday season, but competition is also ramping up, so use your marketing dollars wisely.

For more information:
Newood Display Fixture Mfg. Co.
PO Box 21808
Eugene, OR 97402
Toll Free: 800-233-9663
Fax: 541-688-5868

The Nu-Era Group
8000 Hall St., Bldg. 2 Ste. 200
St. Louis, MO 63147
Tel.: 314-231-3662
Toll Free: 888-467-8673
Fax: 314-231-3917
Email: Use online form

Halmark Systems
354 Page St.
Stoughton, MA 02072
Tel.:  781-334-8618
Fax: 781-341-4505
Email: Use form online