March 15, 2019
June 30, 2019
July 21-22, 2019
For retail stores, the winter holidays are one of the most important times of the year. Perhaps not surprisingly, some retail stores start preparing for the winter holidays as soon as summer ends, and then really start ramping up in a week or two prior to Thanksgiving. Needless to say, there’s a lot that retail stores can be doing in terms of buying, planning, and organizing before the real winter holiday season starts. Needless to say, there’s a lot that retail stores can be doing in terms of buying, planning, and organizing before the real winter holiday season starts.
One easy way to avoid the markups and stock-outs that inevitably occur around the busiest days of the winter holidays is to start stocking up well in advance. Every holiday season seems to bring a new and trendy alternative to the all-time classics, but it’s a safe bet that some wines – such as great Pinot Noir wines that pair well with Thanksgiving turkey feasts and sparkling white wines and champagne that accompany New Year’s celebrations – are absolute no-brainers.
The earlier you start stocking up, the easier it will be to select wines from different price points. There will always be demand for $15-$20 bottles of wine that pair well with a variety of holiday meals. However, keep in mind that the holidays are when people are often looking for something a little special. You never know when a high-end collector is going to stop by, looking for a $200, $300 or $500 bottle of wine for a lavish holiday feast. As a result, many retail consultants advise ordering a few cases of high-end, hand-sell bottles.
There’s more to hiring extra help than just adding someone to help out on the selling floor – you also probably need extra cashiers, gift basket makers, packers and shippers. That’s especially the case if your store is going to have extended holiday hours. During the post-Thanksgiving sales crush, you want to make sure that you have as many team members as possible to keep up with demand.
The good news, of course, is that you can use this extra holiday hiring as a way to recruit top talent for your full-time staff in 2019. Think of the winter holidays as a “trial period,” where you get to see how employees keep up with the stress and demands of the hectic holiday season. Be on the lookout for potential “rock stars” – the types of employees with great wine knowledge and even better customer service skills.
Some retail stores try to minimize their spending on holiday displays, theorizing that these are just unnecessary cost outlays without any real return on investment (ROI). But guess what? Holiday shoppers are fully expecting to see holiday displays – they want to be guided to the best holiday sales, the classic holiday wines, and the special displays that showcase how unique your retail store really is. Thus, festive window displays, seasonal music, and holiday-themed accessories are very much in play.
And, if you’re really concerned about the extra costs and time involved with outfitting your store for the holiday, you can always turn to your distributors and suppliers. They always have options for aisle and floor displays, even if they come with a lot of their own branding on them. Some retail stores solve the problem by making sure that everything they use to decorate a store is actually for sale. See those festive holiday wine glasses? You can add them to your shopping cart and buy them today. Or see those seasonal place settings or elegant cocktail napkins? Those, too, are for sale. That’s one easy way to ensure an ROI on your holiday investment.
During the rest of the year, you may have plenty of extra time to think about re-stocking shelves, keeping the store clean, and making sure that everything is organized properly for the next day. You don’t necessarily have that same luxury during the busy holiday season, especially the hectic days around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thus, when it comes to scheduling staff members, make sure you are adding in 1-2 hours per day for all the day-to-day maintenance required to keep your store a well-oiled machine.
On a related note, you also want to make sure that your workers are not over-extending themselves. You’ll want to keep a careful eye on their schedules and make sure that they are going to be at their very best when interacting with customers. It’s hard to be merry and jolly during the holidays if you’re also feeling sick and/or exhausted.
There are a lot of ways that retail stores can come up with an effective holiday program. One simple solution is simply sending out a weekly email to customers (or, at least, VIP customers), alerting them to new products, one-of-a-kind offerings or special events. You can start sending out these emails a week or two prior to Thanksgiving and then continue all the way through to the first week of the New Year. If you also have a social media presence (such as Facebook or Twitter), then why not start creating holiday-themed posts that will help to encourage customers to stop by?
And, you can also think about staging in-store events dedicated to the holidays, such as special wine tastings of wines that pair well with traditional holiday meals. To pump up sales of premium spirits (think Scotch whiskey or cognac), you can also create “signature cocktails” and then host events featuring local bartenders or mixologists.
And, of course, you’ll want to create special holiday gift baskets, as well as specially curated wine selections. A bottle of wine is still one of the most popular holiday gifts, and if you can come up with attractive gift baskets that take all the fuss and thinking away from gift-giving at an affordable price, customers will literally line up to buy them..
For the alcohol beverage industry, the winter holidays remain one of the most important sales periods of the entire year. With that in mind, you’ll want to do plenty of advance thinking and planning about how to deliver the perfect in-store experience for your many customers and fans.