Article by Dani Giardina
National Retail Association’s Marketing Unit 

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Between concerns over inflation and continued supply chain concerns, retail Christmas shopping will be taken to new heights this year with the pre-Christmas shopping rush now in full swing post further COVID-19 restrictions easing.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report, 2021 Christmas sales were up 7.3 percent to a record level following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which had seen the retail industry recover all lost momentum caused by the Delta outbreak.

Now one year on, while the season brings fierce competition, it also provides opportunities to capture new customers, and no matter what, the holiday season is often challenging for small businesses. For many companies, Christmas comprises the bulk of their yearly sales, so preparing early and thoroughly can make all the difference.

With these tips, you can set your brand apart, capture early demand, meet customer needs, and reach new buyers.

Secure staff where you can
Over recent years, it may have been feasible to take on Christmas casuals to meet seasonal demand, however, in 2022 this isn’t a situation that can be easily reliant upon. Staffing issues are critical across the nation so it’s imperative to get ahead of the game and secure the staff you need now and formulate contingency plans for any shortfalls or peak hours.

Strengthen your supplier relationships
Now is the best time to build on your relationships with your existing suppliers and reach out to them with a view to working with any of the challenges they are facing over this frantic holiday period. Discuss ways how to secure deliveries and schedule in advance shipments.

Review and upgrade technology
There is nothing worse than lining up for hours in the store amid the Christmas rush and experiencing issues with computer glitches or failed EFTPOS terminals. Make sure your technology is ready and able to handle the onslaught of Christmas shoppers, particularly in this modern era when customer expectations are so high. Whether in-store or online, you don’t want to lose potential customers because your technology is down, or you can’t process credit card orders. This means taking the time earlier in the year to upgrade security software, test checkout and payment processes, check the usability of search functions, and make sure your software can handle an increase in orders.

Stock up on Christmas inventory
Be ready to stock up on the latest trends and specifically branded or crafted gifts that make your merchandise stand out. There is nothing worse than running out of all the must-have gifts and having to turn away a new customer. Make sure that your store is fully stocked and that you have plenty of your bestsellers easily and deeply available. Talking to vendors and exploring discounts for buying in bulk quantities is always an added “Christmas” bonus too.

Entice shoppers with a Christmas promotion
Australian consumers are savvy shoppers and creating promotions for the Christmas season is a worthwhile way to both attract new shoppers and reward loyal customers. They know businesses compete for customers, and they’re always on the lookout for discounts and sales. Strategize early, and brainstorm ways to appeal to your customer’s desire to save money wherever they can.

Showcase gift suggestions
As Christmas creeps closer, your customers’ lives will grow to be more hectic. Consider making Christmas shopping easier by preparing holiday bundles with multiple items into one perfect gift.  Put together an email marketing campaign with gift ideas. Personalize gift suggestions based on previous purchases or showcase unique or bestseller gift hampers. As a bonus and incentive, offer a discount on gift bundles.

Keeping in mind that quality service and experience are what formulate a healthy brand and result in a happy consumer. By taking these steps now, will make the next few months of the busy holiday trading season surely to be a success that will carry you into the new year.