By Rieva Lesonsky
Good news on the retail front as we head into the 2012 holiday shopping season: Seventy-five percent of retailers in a Hay Group survey expect their sales to increase compared to 2011. The survey focused on large retailers, but their optimism is a good sign for small business owners, too. Now, how can you grab your share of those extra sales?
If you need to hire, do it now. More than a third of the survey respondents plan to hire more seasonal workers than last year. In addition, 43 percent say they plan to add more permanent workers and fewer seasonal ones. That means the competition could get stiff, so start your staff search early.
Test early promotions. Although the majority of big retailers (58 percent) won’t start holiday promotions till November, a sizeable contingent (42 percent) say they will start in October. By doing so, they’ll see which products sell well so they can reorder, and avoid getting stuck with excess inventory when it’s too late in the game to get rid of it.
Get your ecommerce engines ready. Last year’s holiday season had 10 days that each saw online sales of more than $1 billion. This year’s ecommerce outlook is even rosier, so make sure your website is in great working order, your fulfillment is smooth and all online systems are go.
Don’t discount so much. Just 18 percent of brick-and-mortar retailers in the survey say they feel pressure to match the prices at online-only retailers. That’s a significant drop from last year. Overall, 50 percent of respondents (both online and offline) say they will offer fewer discounts than they did in 2011. Consumers are still cost-conscious, but with big retailers dialing down the discounts, your small business will have more breathing room.
Make a mobile move. Big retailers are still pretty cautious about mobile shopping. While they are planning to spend three times as much on mobile initiatives as they did last year, many of them had concerns about lack of mobile knowledge, unclear business objectives for mobile, and insufficient staff or budgets. At the very least, your business should make sure your website is optimized for mobile use and that your retail location is listed on local search directories so customers can find you when they’re searching on mobile phones.
Image by Flickr user myeralan (Creative Commons)