5 Questions to ask about holiday decorating & merchandising

December 7, 2017

Doesn’t it seem like the holiday celebrations start earlier and earlier? This year, we started seeing holiday decorations popping up well before Halloween! The December shopping season is becoming more competitive as retailers and merchants no longer wait for Black Friday to kick off their holiday promotions. If you’re one of those businesses who got a jump on their holiday merchandising, kudos to you. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get in the spirit of things, read on! These five questions can help you start to strategize for the holiday shopping season.

1. What’s going to make you stand out?

Whether you’re selling online or from a brick-and-mortar location, tis the season to stand out from the crowd. Consider your curb appeal: your window displays and sidewalk-chalk signs are a great way to boost foot traffic this season. Check out this post for some in-store signage inspiration, as well as this post on how to create an eye-catching, festive window display.

Another way to be memorable: create an immersive experience! Most retail store decorations appeal to the eyes and (maybe) ears, but what about the other senses? Engage your customers with the smells of pine or piping-hot cookies, free hot cider, cuddling puppies at the pet store, or just some free candy canes to get them in the mood.

2. What products do you want to highlight?

When crafting your window displays or considering what products to highlight on your website, think about your seasonal inventory carefully. This season is a marathon, not a sprint! Make sure any seasonal items will carry through December 31 so you aren’t forced to offer deep discounts to clear your shelves. Likewise, think through how you’re displaying your key products. Are you stashing stocking stuffers by the cash register? Are the products that “go together” displayed together? Never underestimate the power of suggestion, especially when so many people are making their lists…and forgetting to check them twice.

3. What extras will you offer?

As fun as the holidays are, they can also be a stressful time. In lieu of having a team of elves to help, you can fill in by offering a few extra services to make your customers’ lives easier. If you don’t offer giftwrap usually, that can be a great way to make someone’s day. Gift delivery is another option: if you have a retail store, let your customers order or reserve their gifts online for fast delivery or pickup.

4. How can you stay true to your brand?

Holiday marketing doesn’t necessarily mean making it look like Christmas exploded in your store. Bah humbug can be fun too! If it doesn’t come naturally for you to go all in on retail store decorations, that’s fine. Establish the right mood and don’t be afraid to differentiate yourself. Your customers might find it totally refreshing to admit that the holidays bring their own unique stresses. It might be right for some to pipe in Christmas music, but consider that every single store on your block might be doing the same! Your version of a “holiday atmosphere” might be to find ways to help shoppers feel calm, focused and stress-free.

5. How can you be inclusive?

It’s easy to forget to see the forest for the (Christmas) trees. December is one month out of the year, and being inclusive to all your customers lasts a lifetime. Think beyond Christmas! Plenty of people celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or simply winter. Keep this in the back of your mind when considering how to craft your conception of “holiday shopping” and include everyone!

[image: 03a.FlowersOn14th.1712.14th.NW.WDC.30November2014 by Elvert Barnes on flickr]

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