Tuesday, November 29, 2011

4 Simple Ways to Boost Your Holiday Sales

U.S. consumers are expected to spend 2.8 percent more on holiday gifts this year than they did in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. But with much of that money destined for big-box stores that offer deep discounts on merchandise, how can your small, independent business make a dent in the market?

Here are four simple ways to boost your holiday sales.

  1. Create custom gift lists. Start your holiday marketing by sending out targeted gift recommendations according to relationships (Mom, Dad, sister, etc.) to your email newsletter subscribers, and posting your suggestions on your website. Carefully curate your recommendations based on the gifts' intended recipients: If you own a jewelry store, might a customer want to buy a pearl necklace for his mother, or a new watch for his brother? Check out Amazon's Gift Central for inspiration. You can also allow web users to create their own wish lists, which they can email to friends and relatives.
  2. Offer free gift-wrap services. Many customers give preference to stores that prioritize customer service. Offering free gift-wrap services adds convenience at a minimal cost to you. Some shopping blogs, such as the OC Register's OC Deals, make lists of stores that offer free gift-wrapping in their area, which can help you draw in additional new customers.
  3. Sell gift cards. If you're not already offering gift cards, now's the time to start. Many holiday shoppers would rather be safe than original — and they opt for gift cards instead of presents. According to the National Retail Federation, 77 percent of shoppers bought at least one gift card last holiday season. Gift cards can be good for retailers' bottom line, too: A 2008 Consumer Reports survey found that approximately $8 billion worth of gift cards purchased during the prior year were never redeemed.
  4. Guarantee on-time delivery. If you run an e-commerce site, it's essential to guarantee that all gift orders arrive at their destinations before Christmas. Now's the time to make sure everything's in stock and to add a holiday shipping timetable to your website that clearly states the purchase deadline in order for gifts to arrive by Dec. 25. Prepare to offer a refund on shipping charges — as well as a store credit, as Best Buy does — on any product that doesn't arrive on time. Or, if the customer prefers, provide a full refund.
Thanks to Kathryn Hawkins / Blog Intuit / Intuit, Inc.

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