Happy Holidays

By

Phillip M. Perry

A robust economy and a resulting surge in consumer spending should make this Christmas season among the most profitable in years. At the same time, optical dispensaries need to come up with attractive price points and compelling sales messages, because shoppers will be doing more than their usual amount of comparison shopping.

“Consumer confidence remains high,” says Bob Phibbs, a retail consultant based in Coxsackie, NY (retaildoc.com). “And we are now on the other side of the election, so that uncertainty is behind us.”

Furthermore, shoppers are not expected to be preoccupied with other expenses. “Employment is surging ahead, and interest rates and gas prices remain low,” points out Al Meyers, a retail innovation consultant at Kalypso, Cleveland (Kalypso.com). “As a result, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a halfway decent holiday season.” So how can your lab help prepare your customers for what should be a competitive Holiday Season.

Trim Prices

Before ringing too many holiday bells, though, retailers need to realize that shoppers will be bargain-hunting. “The nation has been experiencing many high-profile store closings,” says Phibbs. As a result, consumers will be expecting retailers to reduce prices. “It’s going to be harder to communicate compelling messages beyond discounting.”Just as challenging as a product supply glut is a rapid growth of e-commerce at the expense of brick and mortar stores. Aggressive promotions by online retailers will put more downward pressure on prices. “Retailers are going to have to come up with promotions that shoppers can’t get on the web or from Amazon,” says Dave Ratner, a speaker and consultant on retailing based in Agawam, Mass. (daveratner.com).

Package Deals

What to do? Ratner advises retailers beating the price-watchers at their own game—and wholesalers can do the same. He advises assembling packages of related merchandise that offer eye-catching (pardon the pun) discounts while boosting your average ticket sale.

“In all of your promotions you should try to do kits,” says Ratner, referring to such grouped merchandise. “You will be a lot more successful selling batches of related merchandise than selling add-ons to a base item.”

Ratner likens this approach to that of package deals in the travel industry and the “luxury” offerings of car dealers. You also might offer discounts for the purchase of two or more items of the same kind. Because this increases rather than trims revenues, it’s a much wiser move than offering discounts on a per-item basis.

Not Price Alone

Avoid making the mistake of competing on price alone. You must differentiate yourself by communicating an exclusive reason to use your services over others. Just as important as the presentation of package deals is drawing in the right customers.

One of the best ways to do that is the use of social media. Ratner points specifically to Facebook, where businesses can send messages to targeted customers and potential customers. “You can buy Facebook ads that target people within five miles of your [business],” he says. “And the costs are so much less than the old days of print ads and mailers.”

And speaking of targets, how about aiming at local organizations that can do your marketing for you—or at least help substantially? “Make deals with your local schools, churches or other organizations,” says Ratner. “Do promotions that will appeal to their members, and give the organizations a cut of the sales. They will end up promoting your merchandise for a cut of the profits.”

If you develop a compelling sales message, trim your prices, and promote package sales to targeted shoppers, the result will be a profitable Christmas season. “You have to know your customer,” says Phibbs. “That takes a lot of work. But what other choice do you have?”■


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Labtalk-November/December 2017