Summer is a busy season for many retailers. With winter in the rear view, shoppers want to be out of the house. Not to mention, travel and holidays like the Fourth of July drive more sales this time of year as well. In fact, more products go on sale for the first time during the Fourth of July week than the first week of January, according to data from Edited. Retailers are responding to the spending surge, and thanks to those discounts, are likely seeing even more sales and traffic, both online and in-store.
If this sounds like your summer season, now’s the time to prepare for the rush. You’ll have less to worry about during long summer days, and can instead focus on making the most of this busy shopping season.
Update Storefront Branding—Online and Offline
Make your store as appealing as possible by updating your storefront branding—this goes for both online and brick-and-mortar stores. For online stores, this means updating the look and feel of your homepage design, as well as the design of your product pages. If you don’t have a large budget, consider working with a freelance designer or developer who works on a project-by-project basis.
Brick-and-mortar merchants need to literally update their storefront, including banners, in-store signage, wall decals and window posters. Consider tailoring your brand to summer themes, like “stay cool” or “look your best on the beach” to stay relevant to anyone walking by.
Both online and offline retailers should also use this time to give their brand colors a summer refresh as well. Check out this branding colors guide from 99Designs to find inspiration.
Reassess Your Retail Insurance
Insurance isn’t sexy, or fun to deal with, but now is the time to get in touch with your insurance agent to make sure you’re up to date. This is especially true for new retailers, who may have opted for less coverage initially, due to a small startup budget. In which case, if you only have general liability insurance, you’re only covered for basic accidents, like a customer falling on the sidewalk in front of your storefront.
If your budget allows, use this time to add a Business Owner Policy (BOP). USA Business Insurance explains why this is important in their retail insurance guide:
“BOP is critical for protecting your business assets. A business owners policy insures your business building and the contents inside. If your primary retail location is rendered unusable due to a disaster, BOP will provide the funds for temporary relocation. Having a temporary place of business allows you to continue operating and earning profits while your primary store is being repaired or replaced.”
In addition, BOP covers a variety of assets, including valuable papers kept in your storefront, and issues, including furnace malfunction. Your plan may even cover the loss of accounts receivables that were within your store if it’s robbed. Get insurance updated as needed before customers start pouring into your store so you’re covered in the case of incident.
Stock Up on Necessary Goods
Don’t run out of receipt paper mid-day, when you have customers packed in your store. It sounds obvious, but don’t forget about the small details as you prepare for the summer rush, and get stocked up on all the goods your online or offline store needs. Use the following list as a starting point, and add items that are specific to your business:
- Paper or plastic bags
- Bag fillers
- Printer paper
- Receipt paper
- Printer ink
If you’re a small retailer doing shipping yourself, you’ll also need:
- Shipping boxes
- Branded box fillers
- Shipping tape
Plan Summer Sale Events
While July Fourth is a common sale time, it’s not the only Summer event that you can leverage to drive more sales. Bazaarvoice shares a few holidays to consider as you plan your summer sale events:
- Pride Month (June)
- The World Cup (June)
- Amazon Prime Day (July)
- Back to School (June through August)
- Hurricane Season (June through November)
- Labor Day (September)
Choose the events that are most relevant to your audience and store and use this time to make a plan for how you’ll best leverage it. Consider both what the event will be, including which products will be on sale and for how much), along with a marketing plan. Where will you promote it? When will you start? Will you do a local direct mail campaign or just social media? Answer these questions now to make the most out of this time when it comes.
Check All Your Online Listings
Now, more than ever, customers are looking online before walking into your store. According to Google, 78% of in-store shoppers looked online first during the 2017 holiday shopping season. Google also found that those shoppers are looking for help to inspire their purchase, help to plan their trip to your store, help to narrow down purchase options. As such, your listing sites should inspire and help potential customers, and the following updates can help you do that.
Get more reviews: Send an email to all past customers asking for a review of their experience. Segment your audience, and choose a different listing site for each, so you can get fresh reviews in all the places your potential customers are looking without asking too much of past shoppers.
Update open hours: There’s nothing worse than getting to a store when it’s supposed to be open, according to their online hours, just to find it’s closed. Get your hours updated and keep them up-to-date if they change throughout the season. For in-store retailers, this is critical.
Check all contact information: Make sure your phone number, store address (if applicable) and email are all correct.
Get Ready for the Summer Shopping Season
Make the most of this busy season by preparing now. Get your branding ready, update your online listings, and make sure you have all the necessary goods—shipping boxes, receipt papers, etc.—to make the shopping experience seamless.
Jessica Thiefels is is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting