Make January your point of difference

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Make January your point of difference

As I write this article I am seeing retailers getting ready for Christmas, one of the main selling months of the year. But, once Christmas is over then what? In the northern hemisphere retailers often hunker down for January as there is a chance of bad weather and consumers staying at home. In the southern hemisphere it is vacation month and going shopping is not on most people’s minds. In my early days in retailing we prepared for the post Christmas sales and January was the sales month. In 2014 that does not work as the consumer now expects a sale every time they walk into the store. The result is that many retailers now look on January as the forgotten month and look forward and prepare for the next selling season. With 18 retail stores a day closing down in the UK according to official figures and the increasing growth in online shopping, I do not believe retailers should be looking on January as an afterthought. Make January your point of difference. Whilst many retailers are not focused on making January an event for their customers, I would argue that is an opportunity. I would be getting the Christmas trimmings down quickly and planning a fresh look January. I accept that sales figures will be lower than many other months, but it is better to increase sales growth in a quiet month and have a healthy bottom line than be in negative territory. Look at the opportunities… Time. There are fewer customers walking into most stores, this means that your team have more time to engage with individual customers. A well run retail operation will find that in the quiet month the customer count goes down, but the average sale goes up. If the average sale does not go up in January, you need to analyse why. If team members are engaging with more customers they have the time to offer the full customer service offer to the customer and solve more problems by offering better solutions. Weekend project consumers still exist. Consumers are still looking for project to do over w a weekend and it is often easier to promote the idea of a weekend project during January. I realise that project selling should be a year-long promotional campaign, but it is easier to sell the idea in a quieter month. Ace Hardware in the USA have “Event in a box” as a promotion. What can you literally put in a box for a weekend project for your customers. Workshops for customers. Not only do you have more time for the consumer, but often the consumer has more time as well. This is an opportunity to build customer loyalty by providing workshops to engage the customer in projects. These workshop could be held during the evening when the consumer has more time to develop projects themselves. Promote January as a fun month. Whilst many retailers cannot think past a “sale” as a promotion, take a different journey and promote the fun things that can happen in January. For example develop a promotion that links the store with your social media marketing based on ideas such as “49 Things you can do in your Garden in January” or “49 ways to improve your home in January”. One of the life bloods of retailers is stock turn and progressive retailers are always looking for an opportunity to develop stock turn. January should not be a month that stock turn is ignored, use the month to make a difference in your business and in your customers lives.