Merchandising tips for the holiday season

Before you know it, Halloween will be past us, and the holiday season will be in full swing. As you begin to see festive displays popping up in store windows and on end caps, you will be subconsciously deciding whether the display looks appealing and encourages you to linger, or whether it makes you want to run the other way.

For all retailers, whether you have a store front or an e-store, strategic visual merchandising is an important part of your marketing strategy. Increasing your number of new customers and investing in customer retention can turn uncertain sales figures into a strong finish for 4th quarter!

Tips for Online Store Sales

1. Make it easy to surf. Minimize the amount of scrolling and clicking by featuring your best-selling items on your home page or popular landing pages, along with price information and a “buy” button.

2. Get to the point. Reach holiday customers with clear statements that include the right SEO key words for an accurate and descriptive message. Promotional texts can be an effective merchandising tool when combined with a strong call to action.

3. Promote! Holiday shoppers expect unique finds for the special people in their life. Direct promotions should enhance products, not detract from them. All sales aren't good sales, so be sure to mix the right promo with the right product mix based on your target audience’s decision-making triggers (not "what sounds good").

Tips for Physical Retail Displays

1. Create a mood. Use color, lighting, depth, and props. Change out window and table displays or vignettes to attract customers so they will come back and see something that they skipped over the first or second time in your store. Create an intriguing atmosphere that is in line with your brand message, but mixed in with the festive season. Many stores over-do holiday themes when their particular target audience expects mood, but not the entire store turned into a festivity scene.

2. Engage the senses. Allow your customers to use multiple senses to experience your product, so that the appeal is based on much more than just visuals.

3. Group your products. A product line displayed together will invite customers to find and buy related items. Design elements such as balance, emphasis and proportion should be used to attract customers and feature your products.

Kimberly Hunter is a business developer at Mountain BizWorks, and a business consultant in the areas of advanced marketing and small business growth with over 15 years of experience.

To learn more about holiday merchandising strategies for your business, take Kimberly’s “Holiday Retail Seminar,” a one-day workshop on Monday, Oct. 29. To register, contact Victor at 253-2834 ext. 23 or victor@mountainbizworks.org. Or learn more at www.mountainbizworks.org/calendar.

Mountain BizWorks supports small businesses in Western North Carolina through lending, consulting and training. For more information, visit mountainbizworks.org.

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