Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas Tips for Retailers

December 13, 2017

Tips for Retailing at Christmas

Writing a piece about retailing at Christmas should be quite straight forward you would imagine, but writing a piece that it is really helpful for retailers that have been through so many of them at this stage is a little daunting I must admit!

With a backdrop of online shopping deals, getting customers parting with their hard earned cash will be more challenging than ever but presents must be bought so let’s roll up our sleeves.

As part of the preparation for this article I decided I should ask my good buddy Mr Google for a little help and see what extra nuggets I could find that would definitely impress the experienced retailers out there.

If you Google “Tips for retailing at Christmas” you will be quite surprised with what you will find!

My search actually took me to a website called www.christmastipsforretailers.com – can you imagine a website designated to just that topic!

In a way it’s not at all surprising seeing as the Christmas period accounts for a huge % of peoples revenue as well as a huge % of footfall. Even more important the festive period will bring a large number of “new” visitors who could well be trying out your store for the first time – what an incredible opportunity if you really think about it.

I will look at the tips under four broad headings:

Attract the customers into your store

Customer loyalty is as a result of the good work you have done throughout the year and will determine where customers will do their shopping when it comes to Christmas. However you have to do your utmost to attract them in and compete for their attention.

Database Promotions – this is where you use your databases, your invite lists, and your Facebook page for special offers, special customer nights and even Christmas cards as gentle reminders that you are open for business.

Wow Window displays – Christmas windows are really special and if possible push the boat out and really build attractive displays that grab customer attention. (I always get blown away by the window displays in London at this time)

While having an attractive window display is critical, remember that people need complete “solutions” with either their outfits or their gifts – be sure to put your best foot forward at all times with your most attractive and available stock.

Fresh – Have new merchandise arrive throughout the whole festive period keeping your store fresh and if not refresh and rotate the key displays so that the store feels new and vibrant.

Offers – Make sure your promotions are well displayed but in a tasteful way and in keeping with the overall store look and feel.

Clean and tidy store – Allow extra staff time each evening for cleaning, tidying and rearranging so that the store is looking the best as much as possible.

Look after the customer really well when they get there

Research has shown that at Christmas 60% of purchasing decisions are made within the store – once they come in your door make sure that happens.

Christmas is a Floor Show – One of the sites I visited referred to retailing at Christmas as being a “Floor Show”.

The game is won and lost on the sales floor and this is where the staff and managers should be spending their time looking after customers, making sure that the part time staff knows what they are doing, spotting trends and sorting out issues – plenty time for the office work in the New Year!

Happy Team – Keep your team motivated and upbeat. Christmas is a happy time and cheery staff are vital for the business. It is your responsibility to keep them happy, plan a Christmas party, bring them coffee and treats and make sure you rotate them so that they don’t get too jaded as this will result in lost business.

Happy Customers – Make sure there is a good atmosphere in the store with nice scents and festive but not “too” typical music. Offering a festive drink or some sweets or treats can put the shopper in a very good mood.

Give yourself every chance of selling to customers and as much as possible

Once you have done the hard job of attracting people into your store you want them to do a lot more than browse and say thank you!

Make it easy – Shoppers want to maximise their time and minimise their decision making so make it easy for them by bundling and coordinating products, labelling them clearly and having relevant accessories within easy access.

Have a Top 10 or Favourites rail – Display the popular lines prominently making it easy for the customer to purchase with confidence.

Show people what to buy – Create displays with the specific solutions in mind such as mother’s gifts, party wear etc

The right staff – You need the right quantity of good staff to maximise your income at this time. Bring part-time staff in during the lead up to Christmas in plenty of time so they are sufficiently up to speed for the rush.

Speedy Gonzales – Have your quickest people on the tills and on wrapping duty – remember Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) in the store in the movie Love Actually!

Exchange policy and vouchers – make it as easy as possible for customers to buy by removing obstacles such as “What if they don’t like it?” objections.

Gift wrap – for the guys this is an absolute must as long as it doesn’t take too long and interferes with sales. Pre-wrap fast selling items where possible.

Entice them to return in the New Year

This is the one area that for some reason wasn’t covered in any of the websites, which really surprised me.

Accepting that many new customers visit your store in the Christmas period and many of the other shoppers may just be customers for special occasions, give them a special reason for returning earlier than expected.

New Year Initiatives such as invitations to a special VIP Customer “sale day” or a unique voucher that can be redeemed with purchases in the New Year might achieve this. Brainstorm ideas with your staff to encourage early New Year visits for customers.

Running competitions can be another clever way of building a fresh customer database at this time as long as it doesn’t create delays at the till!

I hope the Christmas tips have been helpful and serve you well into next year when we have to do it all over again, Merry Christmas!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Christmas Presents

December 1, 2015

Goat for Christmas

I love the sketch (see below) with Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington about Christmas presents – it’s that time of the year again and the subject of corporate gifts is upon us!

I remember the first Christmas after we had entered the recession I was dropping a small hamper to a client as a ‘thank you‘ for the business during the year.

The strangest thing happened – he turned me away quite awkwardly and refused to accept the gesture of thanks “not under the circumstances” he said .. “We are in a recession“.

To me I wanted to simply show our appreciation for the work and I felt the gesture was valid regardless of how the economy was going.

That was really the end of the Christmas business gifts as we knew them and even the sending of physical Christmas cards became an exception.

It was noticeable last year as the economy started to improve the gifts and gestures of appreciation started to slowly reappear and I tried to pay particular attention to the ones that impacted on me and the ones that had less impact.

At best the gift gesture should be an opportunity to show appreciation and even strengthen the business relationship – at worst the gesture will make no difference to you and might even make you feel like you are on a big database!

The Thoughtful Gift

This one is a beauty where the person meets you and gives you something they have really thought about, which clearly had significance to you – fantastic!

The Christmas meal

This is a powerful gesture but it is a really time consuming one. With special relationships it is invaluable – if you can break bread together in a relaxed setting then go for it.

The Homemade Gift

On this occasion the person makes something for you … It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant but it was made by them for you. This is an incredibly personal gesture and very powerful.

The Gift for all

This is the gift that you know is one of many. It is great to get a gift but always better if you know it came with special thought and effort. If this is delivered with a personalised card it works.

The Charity Donation

This is definitely a nice idea (it could even be a goat!) but it does rob you of that opportunity of giving something to your client.

The POS gift

The gift of a calendar or diary complete with their logo only works if it is something of genuine quality – if not then it is probably more about them than you .

The Christmas Card

The card alone can be powerful if the sender takes the time to personalise it with a genuine message. Some card is better than no card. Personalising is time consuming but it makes all the difference.

The ‘thank you”  message (email/text)

A personalised message (email or letter) with a genuine note of appreciation works well if there is no hint of it being generic. Written well this can be better than any card. This can even work as a text but make sure it is 100% personalised

The E-Card

The generic Christmas card sent by email was a real product of the recession – for me this is just jamming up my inbox and it has very little meaning. Some of these come with a note about Christmas opening hours, which is fine I guess.

I did notice that many of our business relationships weren’t acknowledged in any way – I don’t hold anything against any of these business partners but an opportunity was lost to say thanks and make these relationships stronger.

Christmas is that time of the year that gives you an opportunity for saying thanks and you shouldn’t waste it.

When deciding what gifts to give I wouldn’t worry too much about the monetary value, however I would go along with ‘it’s the thought that counts‘ sentiment and I would add Personalise with a capital ‘P when possible.’

If you want to show genuine appreciation then go for it!

Merry Christmas and thank you for your custom..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

Far from shore

December 28, 2014

Relaxing at sea

The sweet spot of the holidays … When you have been off for a few days, enough to have been able to come down the gears and properly switch off and far enough from going back to work so you don’t have to start thinking about it again.

This rare time, when you are far from shore is special, you start to recharge, refresh, replenish and get to know the ‘other’ you and when your head is clear all manner of things can happen. These brief moments come along just once or twice a year and before you know it, it’s time to turn the boat around and head back to land.

The question is …what are you doing with this precious time?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Customers aren’t just for Christmas!

December 22, 2014

Marc Jacobs

It was about this time last year when I embraced the “hint” that was given to me by Dee and I found myself in the handbag section of Brown Thomas looking for a leather hand bag, which was stylish but small and tidy.

In the end I settled for a classy navy blue Marc Jacobs bag … that’s a good brand, isn’t it? The price suggested it was a good brand and surely she would be happy with it. Down through the years I’ve bought a few handbags in BT for Dee ..strangely (I know what you are thinking..) I actually like shopping for handbags! I love the leathers and the colours and the different designs and for the most part you can’t go wrong with a bag as a present…I think?

As usual I scored and on Christmas morning Dee was happy with her gift.

Marc Jacobs was born in New York City on April 9, 1963. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981 he entered Parson’s School of Design. As a design student at Parson’s, Jacobs was the recipient of some of the schools highest honours including Design Student of the Year. In 1984 he met Robert Duffy who is still his business partner today. These two have been really successful at building this huge brand, which as all of us knows doesn’t happen by accident

At the end of this summer (just 7 months on) the leather edges of the bag started to turn white – the piping on the seams of the bag were not leather but some type of narrow plastic and the covering was wearing away – this didn’t seem very Marc Jacobs so we returned it to the store assured that there would be no issue with a repair or a replacement.

After two months the bag was returned repaired. Dee was upset as it smelt musty so it must have been sitting in a damp repair shop for quite a while and the inner lining that had to be opened up to complete the repair was still torn.

She put up with this, de-fumigated the bag with perfume but within a few weeks you could see that the repair was not going to work as the seams were once again stripping away – back to Brown Thomas!

Brown Thomas

Our interaction with the manager of the store this week was interesting. She studied the handbag carefully. “Do you have a receipt?” It was clear from the repair paperwork that BT had already handled the previous repair. “The manufacturer has a 6 month repair policy, so we can’t really guarantee anything” hmmm.. “we never know how people will wear their handbags” ..in other words if you are the type of person who mistreats a bag then we can’t be responsible. Taking one look at Dee you would know this is a bag that would be looked after carefully.

We politely reminded her that we trust Brown Thomas and the expensive brands they are selling and that there is no way we should accept this level of wear and tear after just a few months. Surely a brand such as Marc Jacobs care about their quality? The manager elaborated “They don’t care! You can give out all you want, kick up a fuss but it won’t make any difference. They are so big and so popular they just don’t care

That is just incredible – we did suggest that maybe Brown Thomas should stop stocking such a brand if that is what their attitude is towards the quality of their products and the customers who put faith in them. Glancing around the store you could see how much space was dedicated to this very popular brand – The Marc Jacobs brand is big business.

We did leave the handbag with the manager and she assured us that she would do everything in her power to get this brand to behave themselves and deal with the issue. I’m pessimistic and my prediction is that this will end up with Dee being handed back a worn out bag, which will never see the light of day.

When you are that popular and selling that much product is it easy to forget about the customer?

When a brand is so powerful do you do everything you can to stock them in your store even if they don’t really care about customers?

When Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy met 30 years ago and started on their journey I am sure they were passionate about style, quality and their customers? Have they lost control of their brand?

When Hugh Brown and James Thomas started their store in 1848 I am sure the customer come before any of the brands they were stocking?

Maybe something might have changed since then ..

Customer’s aren’t just for Christmas and brands don’t necessarily last forever!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

The Hug Test

January 5, 2014

Hugs at work

It’s New Year’s Day and that end of the long break/going back to work cloud descends on me as it always does.

I love the Christmas break, possibly even more than the summer break and when it comes to an end it does bother me even though I love what I do – those days of doing nothing, hanging around the house and relaxing are so enjoyable but at some point you have to get back to reality.

When I started to think more about the first day back I started to look forward to seeing our crew again. While the break was great it would be good to see them all again and catch up.

During the course of a year we spend a lot of time together and it’s natural that you get to know everyone quite well and you do form special relationships, even if it is predominantly in a work context.

The more I thought about seeing the crew again I thought about greeting them after not having seen them for the best part of two weeks.

For me the natural greeting for each of them would be a hug – a genuine warm hug, which reflects how I feel about all of them.

I would hate to be heading back to work and to be meeting anyone in our team who I didn’t like, who I didn’t feel any connection with, who I preferred not to spend time with. That would be awful and in the course of my career I have been in that place more than once.

My cloud cleared and I was now actually looking forward to getting back to work.

Will your first day back at work pass the Hug test?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

 

Holidays at Home

December 31, 2013
Summer Holidays

“Where are you going on holidays?”

Where are you going on holidays?” is a question that we are all asked many times during the year (the hairdressers is probably the spot where it is asked most of all!).

If you are going somewhere exotic, somewhere unusual, some place that most people haven’t been to before then you have a really great answer to give them.

During the Celtic Tiger days many of us gave loads of these great answers and this even extended into stag and hen “holidays” and company Christmas trips away.

For me the best holiday of all isn’t the one to that exotic, extravagant and most unusual of destinations it is the one that happens every year at Christmas when we literally holiday at home and get to appreciate and enjoy our own houses.

We decorate the house, we buy in nice goodies and we put our feet up for a week or so. We do very little other than catch up with friends and family and exchange gifts and most importantly good wishes. It’s an absolutely precious time.

Where are you going on holidays?

I can’t wait…I’m staying at home!

I’m looking forward to the next Christmas already ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Gran Ellen came to visit on Christmas Day

December 27, 2013

Family Christmas

Christmas Day this year was really special as our gang hadn’t been together for a long time and it was possible this year because my brother Colin came back from the U.S. to Cork with his wife Lisa and their two kids Alex and Ciara.

We had dinner in my mum and dad’s, my sis Laura was there with her husband Coley and their boys and I was there with Dee and my special two, Brendan and Ellen.

Mum surprised us all with a CD recording of our Gran Ellen who passed away on the 30th July, 2010 at the fine age of 99!

The recording was made at a New Year’s eve party in 1994 at my aunt’s house. Someone obviously got a present of a tape recorder and they decided to make a recording that night. What probably seemed like quite a naff idea at the time was the perfect Christmas gift as it brought Gran Ellen to the dinner table with us.

My cousin’s daughter, Fiona (just 7 at the time) was the skilled interviewer and as a result we heard Gran Ellen (Ellen Burke) talking about her brothers and sisters (there were nine children in the family) and also about her own children. She spoke about how her two eldest daughters went to the States (Renie and my mum, Ann) and how my mum returned after six years. She went on to say that three years later she had a lovely baby boy – me!!

My Gran loved a drop of whiskey and on that New Year’s Eve night she must have had a few as she was in flying form as we heard her sing a few old songs, which we all listened to desperately struggling to hold back the tears!

I sat in the middle of my fabulous family, young and old and I stared at the CD player listening to Gran’s voice as clear as day – she was there with us on this very special Christmas day.

We miss you Gran Ellen x

Greg Canty