How to use the festive season to increase small business sales
It’s that time of year again, time to get the Christmas decorations out and deck your business premises with boughs of holly – if you can remember where you put them.
The holidays are a time of celebration for most, but as a business owner, you might be worried about whether your business will be busy or not during this period.
Whether you spend your time behind a counter serving customers all day, or under a car servicing autos – we've got some advice on how all small business owners can think about using the Christmas period to get more cash flowing through the tills as we head into the winter months.
Create holiday bundles
You might think bundled items are just for online purchases – but this doesn’t mean you can’t offer them in-store.
Creating product bundles for your business – or even better – Christmas-inspired bundles, could give your products a new lease of life and make them more attractive to customers.
Imagine you own a venue that sells food. You could bundle related items together just for the Christmas period. For example, you could create a ‘New Year’s Night in’ deal suitable for a party, or even a ‘Christmas Eve Special Deal’ for a slightly lower price than if the items were bought together. This approach works for all types of food and drink!
This is a great way to sell more items, up your average order value, and increase the perceived value of your product. The customer feels like they are getting more for their money – which is great during a period when money can be tight for many.
And this doesn’t just apply to restaurants or takeaways, if you’re in retail - or even sell a digital product - you can still create Christmas bundles. By choosing ‘dead stock’ items that aren't selling very well you could package them together to help shift them through the tills. Why not go a step further and offer free gifts with purchases – so long as it makes financial sense to do so.
A free gift with purchase
As the saying goes ‘everyone likes something for nothing’- and giving your customers a gift at Christmas adds a special touch to the buying experience. This can, in turn, encourage customer loyalty.
If your trade slows down during the few days between Christmas and New Year, you could drum up some custom by giving away a free item with every purchase. This could be something as simple as giving away a croissant with a coffee on a cold, wintery morning.
For retail businesses that work with Amazon or other sellers - a gift with purchase is a good incentive to get customers to buy directly. This way you can avoid extra fees for partners and get the money in your pocket.
This is often used by online stores when wholesalers are undercutting products on price. It helps persuade customers to buy at a slightly higher price but receive more products in return – adding more perceived value.
Provide genuine discounts
Customers are getting more savvy by the day, and in recent years, news over ‘Fake Black Friday Deals’ has been increasing. Research by Which found that - out of the items analysed in a 2022 investigation - 86% of them had also been the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday. Shock! Here are things to consider when offering discounts:
- When offering discounts on products for Black Friday, Christmas or Boxing Day – make sure customers are getting a real deal. You should be able to back up your claims if any customers challenge you – so make sure you can.
- If you use signage like ‘was’ and ‘now’ make sure the savings are genuine and properly calculated.
- Check your competitors to see what they're offering and try to offer something better. For example, a 30% discount over 20% is more appealing, and sometimes an extra push is all the customer needs to make a purchase.
Use festive email marketing
If you haven’t already, make use of email marketing. It’s one of the most effective ways to get customers engaged with your brands and products.
Build an email list through customer interaction in your store, online forms or social media – you could even create Meta lead ads.
Once you have an email list, you can craft campaigns using a tool such as Mailchimp which allows you to send emails to up to 1,000 addresses for free. And if you have a customer list larger than that, we recommend using a tool like Customer.io. for building email flows and personalisation.
Use emails to send out festive offers, feature competitions and highlight gifts in the run-up to festivities!
Sell unique experiences
What if you could make money by hosting a special class or workshop? This idea might take a bit more time to organise but could be sold as a valuable experience.
Sharing knowledge with your customers by hosting an interactive event is a great way to get income from selling tickets. This could be during a quiet period of the day, so It’s unlikely to disrupt normal trade. This way you are creating a nice gift idea, but also using your premise and talents to make money.
Make your premises ‘photoworthy’
Now, you probably know how to dress up your shop front for the holidays. But what if you could go one step further and create an area specifically for people to take photos for social media? Here are some ideas:
- Buy a Christmas tree with lights and put fake presents underneath. Or for a sparkly look, buy a curtain with LED lights as a backdrop against a wall or behind seating. If you have a social media presence yourself, this could increase brand mentions, which can help spread awareness of your brand and ultimately get new customers in!
- For those who own a coffee shop or café, having decorations on your table can create a festive aesthetic when it comes to setting. Customers may be more likely to take a snapshot of their morning coffee and mince pie for their socials.
- Fast-food restaurant owners can still get in the festive spirit by decorating entrances – for example, using a balloon arch over the front door. Even if customers can’t be persuaded to take a selfie with it - you can use it for promotional content on your business's social media. It also ups the festive spirit during the buying experience – even if it’s just a plain old fish and chip order!
- Always try to stay on brand and use coloured decorations that complement your interiors. Decorations don’t need to be expensive either, you can buy a balloon arch set off Amazon or an LED light curtain for around £10.
Update opening times
Talk with your customers before the holiday season begins to see if there is a demand for longer opening hours. Based on previous years you might know already, but this is worth checking again. Habits may have changed, especially since the pandemic.
You could open earlier or on a day you would otherwise be closed. But consider staying open on busy days until all customers in your store have been served.
And if trade is normally quiet over the holiday period, let your customers know! Many people take extended holidays over Christmas and have more time on their hands to shop and get things done.
For example, mechanics could offer winter service spots over the Christmas period and advertise online or through email marketing – you could even get out some festive treats for when they do come in.
Run a Christmas themed competition
Everyone loves a competition, especially a festive one. If you can afford to give away a product then this is a great way to encourage people to come to your store. Here are some ways to carry one out:
- If you’re in retail, try a fun in-store competition. Those who purchase can be entered in the draw to win, for free. You’ll want to make sure the prize is something valuable and if possible, package up something in store so visitors can see it – possibly by the till.
- An interactive competition is always fun. Why not try a ‘spin the wheel’ style competition for an hour? With different prizes in store to win! Shoppers can take a turn for free. You can use leftover stock, offer vouchers to use in-store or discounts – the prizes are up to you.
- If you work in hospitality – a social media competition is probably a better option. A dinner for two could be up for grabs, or an amount towards drinks. Just make sure you follow competition guidelines to avoid your account being blacklisted.
Want more? Learn more about creating a social media strategy for your small business.
Got spare time over the holidays? Get set for 2024 with Bionic
At Bionic, our tech-enabled experts will help you to compare business energy quotes from a panel of suppliers, including business electricity and business gas deals. And because business energy is more complex than domestic, we'll talk you through the results to ensure you get the right package for your business.
Interested in more small business content? Head to our blog to read more, from schemes to help with business energy bills to tips on how to protect your small business from bad weather, and everything in between.