How Retailers Can Use Seasonal Occasions To Boost Sales 20/03/2017 Tips & Advice With the annual rush of Christmas and the January sales, most businesses will have first-hand experience of the impact that retail seasonality has on their profits. While the festive season is typically the most important time of year for retailers, data has shown that Mother’s Day and Easter are the most celebrated holidays after Christmas, which presents another golden opportunity to boost sales, target customers, and create memorable first impressions. For many retailers, quiet periods throughout the year can be a struggle, which is why they often depend on these seasonal booms to make up for shortfalls in cash flow. Therefore it is vital that seasonal businesses are always well prepared for these events - most of which only happen once a year. Plan ahead to get ahead Competition will be high as seasonal businesses battle to get ahead in the lead up to Mother’s Day and Easter; this is why it pays to plan at least three to four months in advance to avoid missing out. The best way to create a plan tailored to your business is to look at sales from previous years to identify buying trends. Although you’ll still need to consider other factors, having this as a benchmark will prove useful when it comes to deciding how much stock you need to order. Tools like Google Trends can help you gain insight on online sales patterns too. This information is based on trending search terms, and the popularity of seasonal keywords. For example, you could run a Google Trends search on the phrase 'Mother's Day gift' to see exactly which time of year customers begin to search for this in the UK. Google Trends will also highlight any related topics or queries, such as 'cheap flowers' or 'free delivery gift boxes' that could help you to shape your own stock offering. Looking at data from previous years on Google Trends to see which keywords led to increased website visits and sales can also be beneficial when mapping out your strategy. Another consideration to take into account is making an adjustment to your trading hours for the busier season; a decision that can again be informed by looking at past sales data. You may notice that more customers are inclined to shop on Sundays or weeknights in the run-up to Mother's Day and Easter, in which case you would need to determine whether your business is able to cope with your existing staff or whether you need to make some seasonal hires. Upsell, cross-sell and offer perks One of the many benefits of seasonal occasions is that your customers are already in the right frame of mind to buy. Take advantage of this by upselling and cross-selling products whilst hitting your customers with some tempting perks. This could be as simple as placing Easter eggs or cards by the till so that customers are reminded of upcoming events when paying for other items. Or you could market products as part of themed packages; for instance, letting your customer know that their purchase is part of a Mother’s Day package that includes an extra item for an exclusive price. Offering perks such as free gift wrapping and gifts tags when a certain amount is spent can also encourage customers to spend more money. This can be even more effective if your staff are well briefed on how to maximise sale; offering incentives and commission for high performance during the season can give your team that extra push. Promote wisely and often Promoting your seasonal business ideas is key. A lot of retailers find that having a promotional calendar in place helps with scheduling messages and creating anticipation around the occassion. This is particularly useful when promoting online. The next step is choosing which channels you want to use, whether that’s social media, email marketing or online advertising; ending out multiple messages in the run-up to the occasion helps to engage customers early on as many of them will be making purchases in advance. Companies such as Hotel Chocolat and florist Appleyard London post regularly in the lead up to events using hashtags, attractive images and promotional messages to captivate their audience. If you want to entice online customers to visit your premises then it could be worth offering exclusive in-store promotions and offers too. Offline promotion in the form of visual merchandising is also highly effective. Seasonal displays can inspire customers, highlight your offering, and pull in window shoppers. The trick is to keep your displays bold and interesting, yet simple and uncluttered. Keep the messaging relevant and make sure anything you have put in the display is easy to locate in-store. Seasonal occasions can be extremely rewarding for your business and you could still be feeling the benefits several months later. If raising finance is holding you back from executing any of your seasonal business ideas, then it could be worth looking into a Retail Business Loan. As well as additional finance - having a strategic plan and tailored sales technique in place will help you to sail through your busiest seasons. And remember, you won’t be able to do it without your staff so make sure they’re well briefed beforehand, especially if there are any changes to returns or exchange policies.