By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
The hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season (and the deluge of returns that follow) is finally over. You’re glad of a little downtime — but not too much downtime. Typically, January and February are slow months for retailers. Consumers tighten their belts to pay off their holiday credit card bills, and winter weather keeps people indoors.
So how can you keep products moving and profits coming in at this time of year? Try these seven tips.
1. Market to holiday shoppers
Hopefully, you collected lots of contact information from new customers during the holiday season. Now is the time to reach out to the people who joined your loyalty program or signed up for your email newsletters.
Thank them for being a loyal patron to your store and include a discount code they can use on their next visit or purchase. Most likely, you’ve got data on what they’ve purchased. Use it to suggest similar or complementary products that might interest them.
2. Change it up
Shoppers come to retail stores to be inspired and find new products. If they’ve seen the same old, stretched-out sweaters or mismatched odds and ends for sale in your store since Thanksgiving weekend, they’re not going to be inspired. Offer something new every day by mixing up your store layout, changing your window displays or promoting a “deal of the day.”
3. Clean house
Get winter merchandise moving, so you’ll be ready to start fresh in the spring. Hold a clearance sale to get rid of leftover products from the holidays. Put clearance items in the back of the store and make shoppers walk a tempting array of newer products to get there. Since your goal is to get rid of things, try offering shoppers larger discounts the more items they buy.
4. Help shoppers stick to their resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are on everyone’s mind this time of year. Figure out ways you can tie your products to common resolutions such as getting in shape, unplugging from technology, or saving money. Eating healthier, losing weight, and exercising more are the top three resolutions for 2019, according to a survey of 2,000 people published by Inc.
Promote products related to these themes. For instance, if you own a bookstore, put fitness books, diet and nutrition books, and healthy cookbooks front and center. If you own a sporting goods store, display workout clothing, weights, and running shoes.
5. Engage on social media
Let’s face it: By this time of year, we’ve all had enough of winter, and people are getting bored. Use your social media presence to entertain and engage those shoppers who are stuck on their sofas.
Hold contests, conduct surveys, or just share interesting, entertaining content (not necessarily yours) to get your followers’ attention and spark conversation. Even if shoppers don’t come in to buy, you’ll be building relationships that will pay off when the snow thaws.
6. Help customers clean out their closets
Marie Kondo’s Netflix show is inspiring millions to purge their homes of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” Why not provide a place for some of those cast-off items? For instance, if you own a women’s clothing boutique, ask customers to bring in gently used clothing.
Once you collect enough clothing, donate it to a local homeless shelter or a women’s and children’s shelter. Give each customer who donates items a gift card to use in your store or a discount on their next purchase.
7. Schedule smart
To maximize profits during the slow season, be sure you aren’t wasting money on excess staffing. Review your store schedule to make sure you don’t have too many employees on the floor at any one time. Employee scheduling and time tracking software can ensure employees are working the hours you need them to — and not a minute more.
Employees can rest easy knowing they’re being paid accurately for their time. Plus, a time tracking system with a mobile app makes it easy for you to change the schedule whenever you need and alert employees with notifications to their phones, so everyone’s up to speed.
By following these strategies, you can make the most of January and February — and use any downtime left over to plan for a successful spring.
Rieva Lesonsky is the CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for free TrendCast reports.