How to drive retail sales on non-holiday weekends
Over the years retailers have trained customers to expect a sale with the biggest offers on the “natural holidays” like 4th of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. When these special events show up on the calendar, preferably with a long weekend to go with it, they drive a high traffic volume through the doors.
But what happens on the other 200+ days? If customers are trained to wait for the natural holidays to shop, what do you do to motivate them in between those high volume events. You can’t just close the doors until then. You can’t just hope they’ll show up either. But, there are tried and true ways we’ve helped our retail clients increase traffic in these off times.
One answer is to create exciting, value-laden and believable sales events for the regular weeks. Customers these days are looking for value – you have to make these sales look like they’re robbing you blind, even if that is only a perception. Support these events with broadcast advertising that runs from mid-week through the weekend, with the heaviest weight on Thursday and Friday. Add print support, if it is still drawing in your category. Make sure these messages leave potential shoppers convinced that they will lose out if they delay shopping.
The natural holidays are big draws for all our furniture retailers. Frequently we can support three weekends of activity. Creating Pre-Sale, Sale and Extended Sale weekends lift numbers and offer credible reasons to shop. We add clearances in January and July because these are natural clearance times with believable ties to seasonal merchandise changes. With those weeks covered, we have the beginning of a good marketing plan.
We know that these natural holidays are going to draw about 40% of gross sales for the year; we have to help push the numbers the rest of the year to garner the remaining 60%. So that’s where the ideas for the value-laden additional sales events come in. As we said, that’s one answer to the issue.
Another answer is to use an important segment we’ve identified that, when tapped, can make the numbers happen. It is existing customers. We know that previous customers account for just under 50% of our furniture client’s sales and typically when they come in again, they run up a tab that’s close to 85% of average ticket.
So how do you get these golden prospects in again? Honor that relationship with something extra you don’t give the average Joe. Not only are these offers better than your advertised ones, but they are designed to make your best customers feel like they belong to a special group.
How you deliver the message to this segment is just as important as the actual message. We often use vibrant, value-laden direct mail with tipped in, credit card-sized savings or discount cards. Other times we use high value discount coupons and then give them a second coupon they can pass on to their families or friends. These offers are not provided to the general public, a fact that is highlighted in our messaging – all part of making them feel special. Because we know what these shoppers will spend, we can sustain margins.
Want an additional lift in sales? Increase traditional direct mail efficiency by coordinating it with email. We see a whopping 35% bump in special-offer responses when direct mail is amplified by email. There are few reasons as compelling as that for capturing your shoppers’ email addresses. If you haven’t been doing it, start now!
As your stores plan their 2013 calendars, strengthen your efforts by driving business on non-holiday weeks. Don’t wait for the next big weekend – make one happen with aggressive, believable and well-coordinated messaging. And don’t forget something special for existing customers.
Those are ways our clients have seen sales increase in these time periods. What have you seen or tried that has worked? Or have you had different experiences in this off times. Please share in the comment section below.