Around this time of year is when distributors publish their holiday sale catalogs. If you have your own year-long advertising calendar, then you’re ahead of the game and have probably even influenced what your distributors are offering. Once we enter the holiday season, you will have little impact on the distributor’s product offering.
Before November 1, retailers need to come up with a plan of how they will capture their share of the holiday season’s sales. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you present a plan to your supplier’s sales person and offer to buy an above-average volume for better discounts. If you make it worthwhile to your supplier, you should get a better price, even if it isn’t in their published holiday promotion.
As for a sales plan, examine the product categories most of your customers buy during the year and what would make the best potential presents for their family, friends or even for themselves. Examples of this might be aquarium setups and high-end aquarium accessories, puppy training kits, Christmas stockings and themed toys and treats.
Since themed items cannot be sold other than during a specific holiday, whenever possible, buy open stock and make your own mix and match deals. Some suppliers have been known to offer protection on overbuys, but don’t depend on it unless that is well understood before your purchase. If you can’t get overbuy protection, open stock is your safest option. An example of this would be to provide a “build your own” Christmas stocking display. If you are already selling dog and cat products, order extra or look for deals from suppliers’ overstock items or promotional open stock offerings and display the items in baskets, offering a price range depending on how many pieces are purchased.
Open stock versatility can be extended to just about any category. Puppy training starter setups can be made up from open stock. Most stores stock boxed aquarium setups, complete and ready to go, but that same store may also build setups from open stock items. The open stock concept not only allows a store to sell a setup that is unique to its expertise and recommendations, the products that make up the unsold setups can easily be returned to stock and sold individually after the holiday season.
These promotional ideas are not something new, but the point is to plan ahead. Doing so will get you a better price from your suppliers on items that you want, rather than having to take “potluck,” resulting in your selling something that isn’t quite right for your clientele.
Supporting your “sales plan” with an “advertising plan” that is ready for the holidays and sharing it with your supplier’s sales person might produce positive results when discussing discounts. Your distributors might have access to added value deals from their suppliers. Keep in mind that most manufacturers spend a great deal of money advertising their products, and when they see a retailer promoting their brand they may be willing to help with something extra such as free product samples or added value deals to encourage the consumer to “buy now.”
Your holiday advertising program can be as simple as handing out promotional announcements to all customers who come into your store. This concept can be duplicated on your Facebook page or through other social media platforms. You could even budget some money to promote your sales through Facebook, asking your bigger suppliers or manufacturers to sponsor targeted consumer Facebook ads that go out to consumers in your surrounding area. It’s not too late to complete your holiday sales and advertising plan, but time for effective planning is running out.