Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are two marquee events that many merchants prepare for months in advance. Small Business Saturday alone can generate up to 166% more revenue for merchants in just one day. It’s not hard to anticipate the uptick in sales and prepare your inventory accordingly for those two major small business holidays. But, what about those seasonal events—times like back-to-school—when consumers tend to purchase products en masse?
Planning for events when foot traffic will spike and customers will demand specific offerings can boost business, create opportunities to connect to your customers, and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Merchant planning to increase foot traffic and capitalize on seasonal purchasing patterns will accelerate business growth. Here are some ways to anticipate seasonal trends to increase your sales.
Get creative with your planning.
What are some unexpected ways your business can participate in big-ticket seasonal events? Find ways to be creative in your promotions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Gyms: launch a winter beach-body class series after the holidays to get New Year’s resolution setters in the door and ahead of the curve(s).
- Cooking: offer special holiday prep workshops around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover and Easter, or grilling workshops in the summer.
- Gardening centers: offer spring cleaning tips for sprucing up the garden and getting your front lawn ready for the season.
- Auto repair: host a back-to-school car wash to celebrate seniors and teachers or to benefit the local public schools.
A seasonal event may not seem like it fits with your specific vertical, but small businesses are the backbone of the community. How can you creatively participate in events with the rest of your neighborhood?
Cross-promote with other merchants.
Some businesses have found ways to expand their marketing during seasonal events by teaming up with businesses in other verticals. For example, a gardening store and a book store might cross promote their products, offering Gardening for Dummies at check-out of the plant center or some seed packets at the register of the book store. Pick a merchant who is in a complementary, rather than competitive, market and who can help you reach a new customer base.
Run a targeted marketing campaign.
Back-to-school is a big seasonal marketing opportunity—and not just for merchants selling school supplies. Other businesses can capitalize on student shopping season with targeted promotions to parents and teachers. For example, salons and massage parlors can offer discounts for stressed parents or teachers prepping to meet their new class. Cafes can offer discounted “happy hour” lattes for parents after they drop off their kids. Seasonal merchants who think outside their own “season” can increase foot traffic and reach new customers by expanding their seasonal planning scope.
Reward loyal customers.
Many merchants are already familiar with the 80/20 rule—and that it’s critically important to keep your regulars coming back time and time again. For some customers, loyalty may only come once a year during these critical selling seasons. Look at your historic sales data to see if there are some types of products that customers are purchasing regularly, but infrequently. Can you increase their basket size by cross-selling and bundling other products with that one item they keep coming back for? Can a loyalty program increase their purchasing frequency? Try hosting a VIP event to reconnect with your customers and reaffirm their commitment to shopping at your business.
Train your staff.
Seasonal events can demand a lot of your staff. Set them up for success by providing training and education around your products or menu so they are equipped to handle questions as they come in. If you are adding seasonal staff members, make sure they are familiar with your business and equipped to represent you well. According to experts, businesses that invest in employee training have a 24% higher profit margin than those who do not. Your employees can help position your business as helpful, expert, and friendly; but only if you give them the tools to do so.
Proactively manage your inventory.
Look through historic sales data to know how much, and of what product, you can expect to move. Dead stock doesn’t just cost a business the amount spent to procure the inventory. There are hidden costs, including the opportunity cost, distribution costs, employee wages to stock and manage the inventory, and more. Clover’s POS can help with inventory management, and it’s important to recognize when a product that you may only sell once a year is becoming obsolete or in need of a refresh. Retailers focusing on back-to-school or holiday shopping trends should read up on industry reports to make sure they have the item that people will be searching for.
Seasonal peaks and valleys are to be expected, and with a little planning, staff training, and creative marketing, your business can make the most of the calendar year to accelerate business growth.