How To Make Your Tills Ring This Christmas

by Alice Gallop

The countdown to the most wonderful time of year has well and truly begun and believe it or not, there are reasons to be cheerful. Consumer sentiment has rebounded following the post-EU referendum dip. With employment levels still high and price inflation yet to hit the shops, the majority of the UK now believes they will be better off in 12 months than worse off. Some retailers can expect to make up to 40% of their annual profit during the Christmas period, so it is essential that businesses do everything they can to maximise sales. For Britain’s biggest brands this means rolling out huge advertising campaigns, airing what (they hope) are must-watch emotive commercials complete with big production values.

But what is good news for smaller businesses is that sales are benefitting most from a digitally-savvy approach, with greatest consumer engagement on digital and social platforms. Retailers are increasingly shifting their attention away from commercial set pieces and the spangly store lights towards robust digital strategies in response to changing consumer habits and promotion-thirsty young shoppers. This is happily an area in which smaller business can hope (and afford) to compete.

Moreover, Christmas 2015 illustrated just how important online sales are, as the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor showed that despite an overall “disappointing” festive season for retailers, Christmas cheer came predominately from online. This trend is again playing into the hands of small businesses who, with the right website and marketing tools, represent a serious rival to established retailers. Gone are the days when would-be retail entrepreneurs were forced to invest in bricks-and-mortar premises, install pricey payment solutions and spend all day, every day, in one single location. Small businesses can look to maximise this digital trend by ensuring that their website provides the easiest and most relevant shopping experience. Personalisation, particularly in mobile, will play an ever-greater part up to – and beyond – purchase.

The biggest date for UK retailers to keep in mind is Black Friday (and the following Cyber Monday). Once a marketing tool employed by American retailers to capitalise on the post-Thanksgiving bank holiday and, regarded since 1932 as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, it has arrived in the UK in some style. Amazon, widely credited with bringing black Friday to Britain earlier this decade, enjoyed its biggest shopping day of the year last year, selling some 86 items a second on its UK site, which totalled a staggering 7.4 million orders. Small retail businesses should look to harness this exceptional marketing opportunity with gusto through savvy social networking to showcase products and deals.

It appears that the future is brighter than ever for the UK’s small retailers, with the enhanced power of digital marketing and the significant shift towards online purchasing. Whilst establishing a successful business still requires a lot more than simply inserting details into an online form and sending off the odd product every now and then, the fact that it is now possible – and perhaps more importantly free – to get the ball rolling means that valuable resources (both time and money) can be dedicated to other areas.