How to Avoid the Post-Holiday Blues

Jan 14, 2014 10:43 AM  By

santa-beer-cigar-425The last fruitcake has finally made its way out of the break room and the excitement of the holiday retail season is now just a memory. For the next few months, it’s going to be a long, cold slog as you attempt to capture consumers’ attention and survive a serious case of the post-holiday blues.

Unfortunately, that’s a scenario that is all too common among retailers. In the weeks after the holidays, many retailers simply resign themselves to sluggish traffic and anemic sales totals. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Although you may not be able to replicate the fever pitch of the holiday shopping season, with the right strategy you can stimulate retail activity and avoid the post-holiday blues.

This year, an enormously successful Cyber Monday helped kick off a booming holiday season. For retailers (online and brick-and-mortar), the key to success in Q1 and Q2 will be to keep the momentum going by implementing proven strategies designed to attract new customers and inspire return visits by customers who made purchases during the holidays.

Here are five tips for a successful post-holiday retail season:

Target Gift Card Buyers. Direct marketing initiatives that target gift card buyers can be catalysts for additional sales and loyalty improvements. For example, by offering an incentive for holiday gift card buyers to make additional purchases or to enroll in your loyalty card program, you can convert holiday enthusiasm into a brand relationship that extends throughout the year.

January Discounts. It’s not uncommon for online and brick-and-mortar retailers to include January discount offers with holiday purchases. But if you didn’t drop a card offering 10% off the next purchase into your holiday shipments, don’t worry—it’s not too late to reach out to holiday shoppers with follow-up emails or other vehicles that provide a discount for January purchases.

Exceptional Service. Consumers’ experiences with your brand during the holidays and in Q1 will set the tone for their relationship with your brand all year long. So rather than ramping back your focus on exceptional service after the holidays, it’s important to consistently delight first-time customers and repeat shoppers with top-notch service, both in-store and via call center or online channels.

Site Navigation. Like service, site navigation and a convenient online shopping experience have the potential to turn first-time customers into yearlong brand advocates. For example, in addition to serving up an easy checkout process, consider displaying only sizes and product variations that are available, rather than forcing customers to navigate a complicated product selection process and then discover that their desired item is out-of-stock.

Customized Offers. Many retailers collected reams of data about their customers’ shopping and buying behaviors during the holidays. During Q1, it’s time convert that data into sales by offering customized offers to first-time buyers and other customer segments. In general, customized offers are more effective than mass promotions because they are more relevant and useful to individual consumers.

Finally, it’s important to consider how your success during the holidays and in Q1 will impact your warehouse and fulfillment capabilities. In many cases, a better-than-average holiday retail season will mean an uptick in sales during January and February.

Likewise, the implementation of post-holiday retail strategies will likely result in higher sales—and that means you may need to replenish inventories and prepare for new order volumes now to stay ahead of your continued success in the early part of 2014.

Maria Haggerty is the president at Dotcom Distribution.