Tis’ the season for selling! Holiday sales keep increasing: between 2009 and 2013, holiday sales rose from $506,000,000,000 to over $590,000,000,000 according to the NRF (the National Retail Federation). Getting your fair share of the pot requires careful planning.


Making consumers notice your products rather than the competition’s may entail some creativity, but a truly powerful word in retail marketing is “SALE.” Detail a product’s superior quality all you want. Brag about your impeccable service. That one word, SALE, trumps anything else.

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Brick and mortar retailers have the perfect canvas for announcing sales: store walls. Nothing draws people in better than pretty decoration, with a “SALE” sign on top (except, perhaps, free cookies and cider). Online retailers have no walls to plaster with signs and decoration. Using social media, well-placed ads, and even billboards drive traffic to sites.

A landing page with all the bells and whistles requisite in holiday site design (don’t forget to use “SALE”) lures purchasers, and free shipping offers, discounts on larger ticket items, or even post-holiday coupons, often seal the deal.

Boosting Team Productivity and Morale

Keep your staff happy.

  • Provide holiday flavored coffees to help them wake up and get to work.
  • Treat them to lunch on hectic days.
  • Act as a part of the team and help out in a hands-on manner.
  • Throw a post-holiday party to celebrate a job well done.

Having a supportive, fun, and functional work setting where they feel truly valued makes for more motivated workers who, in turn, make customers happy.


Retailers desperate for seasonal help sometimes hire any applicant, and then just hope for the best. Instead:

  • Advertise the job with a very clear description of its duties to weed out people without the skills or motivation needed for the position.
  • Use an agency that has a proven record of providing great job prospects.
  • Develop a process for screening applicants, from background checks to drug tests.

Use the season as a great training opportunity for working gracefully under pressure.


Use your POS system for inventory control; most have built in inventory control systems that indicate what you have on hand and what you need. The human element comes into play when developing contacts with resources to replenish popular items should you run out.

Online merchants should already be quite nimble in handling inventory issues. They work with fulfillment services and warehouses all the time. Traditional retailers face the extra step of shipping from a supplier to the store, but can streamline things by offering customers the option for shipments sent directly to their home.

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If you are an e-retailer or if you offer shipments of out of stock items directly to customers, ensure the fulfillment process works.

In 1999, the promising ecommerce realm pummeled Toys “R” Us. In a gambit to be a real player in internet commerce, Toys “R” Us set an order deadline of December 10 and then foundered, unable to handle the influx of orders. They sent incomplete orders, promised delivery by a certain date close to Christmas, and then couldn’t follow through on their promise. A litany of sad Christmas tales ensued, all naming Toys “R” US as head Grinch.

The moral of the story: have your ducks in a line before the season so you do not ruin anyone’s holidays.

Site Development

Embrace the 21st century. Consumers use computers and mobile devices to check store hours and location. If they cannot locate the establishment online, or find it but see only a poorly conceived and balky site, a sale may disappear before they even come in the door.

Driving traffic to a great site with SEO content, email campaigns, and social media marketing creates a pool of potential customers ripe for the picking. Organize the site in a way that helps them find what they need easily, such as a section for “Stocking Stuffers” or “Man Cave Accessories.” Having a site that handles their needs is the best tool for converting those prospects into sales.

Finally, take down all the Christmas marketing right after the holidays. After all, by then, you need to start your Valentine’s Day marketing.