Retail Tips for January

If you’ve ever challenged yourself to some kind of professional or personal feat, be it completing a large project at work or training for (and then running) a marathon, human nature tells you to chill out and rest for a bit. Recover. Maybe even allow yourself to be lazy for a small period of time. Don’t. Capitalize and use some of these retail tips for January!

January Tips for Retail

Don’t Do This.

Often times, the time frame after a period of intense projects or events is the BEST time to step on the gas. In the same way a stock market dip is the best time to invest, a quiet period after something intense is often a time when you can capitalize in a big way.

Today I’ll talk mostly about retail, because that’s where most of my recent experience was. I no longer need to clarify if I mean offline or online when it comes to retail, because if you’re not thinking about both facets intertwined, then you’re already behind and you should seek work as a pager salesman.

I always approached January as an enormous opportunity to drive sales and approached it as a way to really get the year started off right. Because I wore so many hats in my job (a benefit AND a burden, of course), there was always a lot to do if I wanted to have this success and a lot of planning for it needed to happen in December, when you’re in the middle of total madness. But it’s always madness.

Janaury tips for retailSo here’s a few things I did to try and supercharge our retail business in Q1. This, by no means, is an exhaustive list, it’s just a few basic things you can and should do.

Create new customer segments. Well, it’s Q4 at retail, so there’s a darn good chance that you’ve piled up a healthy stack of first-time shoppers. Create a segment (your call on if you want to do multiple segments by online-offline) and welcome them to your brand in as human a way as possible. Don’t club them over the head with aggressive new product emails or beg people to buy stuff – they just did that, man! Come up with a way to delight them, perhaps some examples of your most successful social content from the past few months, a peek into the company culture or a new shopper discount (if discounting is part of your makeup). And duh, thank them for being new to the fold.

Extend Promotions. Maybe you had a weaker Q4 then you expected or maybe your company is just into discounting all the time, but this one is totally situational. I know one thing – whenever we positioned a discount or promotion as a “limited time extension,” it usually roared. So if you had a promotion going in December, announcing an extension of it in January isn’t a bad idea and it’s a pretty good bet you can wring out some additional sales to all those people who got gift cards to your store for Christmas.

Increase PPC and Social Spending. The research I did indicated that our competitors pulled back on spending pretty dramatically in January – and of course we did as well. So I don’t mean increase over December, I mean increase over last year’s spend or if you have any insight into your competitors spend, be more aggressive.  I’ve always debated the reliability of the various competitor monitoring services available, but then again, it seemed to pay off each time in terms of YOY growth in this channel. The retail business I was in (ice hockey and lacrosse equipment) is quite seasonal, so each year it seemed I chipped away more and more budget from the slow periods and even experimented with zero budget for a slow month at one point. But if you can be aggressive at a time when others are less aggressive, you can squeeze some growth.

Evaluate Cost of Acquisition By Channel. In some ways, even though this isn’t directly customer-facing, it’s arguably the most important. It’s something you should be doing monthly or bi-monthly (depending on what business you’re in) anyway. Take a look at each of your marketing channels – PPC, Social, Email, etc and understand what you are paying to acquire new customers. It will open your eyes. For example, to measure CPA for paid search for a given period, take your total spend and divide it by your total number of conversions. Voila. CPA. Repeat it for other channels as best as you can and see what’s performing better and where you can improve/manipulate and optimize. Computing this can get murky, for example you’ll need to decide if things like cost of labor or things like shipping costs play in. It’s also difficult to quantify things like traditional media buys (TV/Radio) without an associated unique URL being advertised or something. But plowing more dollars into the better performing areas is basic marketing and a good way to start the new year fresh.

There you go. Now enjoy this little ditty from The Decemberists, great music for January. See what I did there?