The Christmas shopping season is well and truly underway. Marketing emails are filling your inbox, your seasonal staff are settling in, and you've switched the shop's music to the dreaded Christmas playlist.

Whether you're an online or 'offline' retailer — or both) — these next couple of months are critical to your business. The following quick tips can help you boost sales and meet your goals this Christmas shopping season.

The Basics

  1. Set a goal. Maybe you want to increase average spend, or boost sales in a specific product range. This gives you more focus throughout the season.
  2. Set objectives. These are the concrete steps you aim to take to reach that goal, such as setting up a social media campaign, or running a specific kind of promotion.
  3. Plan your rota early — and efficiently. To provide high quality customer service at peak times, you need the right people in place. Consider using rota planning software, if only for this busy period.

In-store

  1. Level up your window display. Don't go for a generic Christmas display - choose a sub-theme that's relevant and appeals to your market (e.g. a winter forest, ice skating, snowflakes, a luxurious Christmas party etc.). Remember that less is more.
  2. Consider extending opening hours. If your town or city has late-night shopping, take part. Try extending your opening hours at other times, too, to make it easier for people who work full-time to do their shopping.
  3. Use festive carrier bags. Swap your usual carriers for something more festive — like how Starbucks roll out their famous Christmas cups each year.
  4. Host events. Anything from Christmas storytelling for kids, to mulled wine tasting — think about what will appeal to your audience and how these events can meet your goals.
  5. Place stocking-fillers near the checkout. These small gifts are perfect impulse buys that add a few quid onto the average spend.
  6. Read up on retail psychology. A few small changes around your store can increase your takings significantly. Read our post on psychological pricing to get started.
  7. Hold a last-minute sale. Entice tardy shoppers on Christmas Eve with some impressive discounts on your top Christmas gifts.
  8. Encourage return visits in the new year. Make the most of the extra footfall by slipping a new year discount coupon into bags with every purchase. While this won't boost your Christmas sales, it will help you in the new year.
  9. Ban Christmas music! Advertise the fact that your customers can shop, peruse, or relax in a Wham-free zone.
  10. Build a Christmas respite 'station'. Turn a corner of your shop into a comfy haven for tired Christmas shoppers to recharge in.

Offline and online

  1. Raise money for a local charity. Place a collection box at the point of sale, host fundraising events, or go carol singing to raise money for an important cause. Alternatively, donate a percentage of your Christmas sales (or a set amount) to your chosen charity.
  2. Take part in Christmas Jumper Day. Save the Children's annual Christmas event is on December 14th this year. Order a fundraising pack and encourage colleagues to donate to this cause. Share snaps from the event on social media.
  3. Start a company-specific Christmas hashtag. Something like #MyBusinessXmas. This will tie together all your Christmassy social media content in one place.
  4. Get ahead with marketing. You won't have time to worry about Twitter or Instagram during the Christmas rush, so make an effort to schedule posts and marketing emails in advance. You can always edit or supplement them later if there's time.
  5. Offer gift wrapping options. Give customers a choice of wrapping - paper, a box, or a choice of colours. You could also give the option for plastic-free wrap or 100% recycled paper.
  6. Update your social media profiles. Add new festive profile photos and cover images. Use some Christmassy emojis in your Twitter handle. In Instagram and Twitter, update the link in your profile to point to a Christmas landing page on your website.
  7. Post gift guides on social media. Use multiple image posts or 'galleries' on social media as gift guides for specific types of product, recipient or even aesthetic. These themed posts are great for engagement (invite followers to tag a friend) and generating sales.
  8. Post short videos on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. These can showcase products, show your team in their Christmas jumpers/huts, or just give a glimpse of the snowy weather in your area. Be creative - these short videos are quick to make, but can get serious results in terms of engagement and brand building!
  9. Create an 'advent calendar' or '12 days of Christmas' series on social media. Publish a new video or photo each day, perhaps showcasing a product and a deal and discount code.
  10. Aim for consistency in tone and variety in format on social media. In other words, post videos, photos, polls and links — but keep everything on brand!
  11. Offer click and collect. Set up a separate counter where you process orders from your online shop to keep things moving.
  12. Do something different on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Don't use the same heavy discounts that large retailers do — instead offer discounts on a small range of products, or choose to go for an 'anti-Black Friday' campaign.
  13. Turning non-festive items into Christmas gifts. If your shop doesn't really sell 'traditional' festive gifts, use imagination to market items for Christmas regardless. For example, if you sell cutlery and crockery, turn these items into a bundle for Christmas dinners/celebrations.
  14. Hold a Christmas prize draw. For every £x a customer spends, gift them an entry into a Christmas raffle or prize draw.
  15. Host a Facebook 'event' for your seasonal offers. Invite Facebook users to attend a virtual event where you promote key discounts and offers and highlight stock.

E-commerce

  1. Be clear about delivery cut-off dates. Figure out the latest you can guarantee delivery in time for Christmas for various regions you deliver to. Communicate this clearly on your website and social media to prod customers to make early purchases.
  2. Re-jig your homepage. Christmas gifts should be front and centre. Find a system for categorising products — such as per recipient, price, or style.
  3. Create at least one Christmas landing page. Having a Christmas 'hub' on your website is fantastic for boosting your ranking in Google's search results. Just make sure the content on the page is genuinely useful.
  4. Think about SEO, but don't go overboard. Including keywords like 'Christmas gifts for dog owners' can help you gain traction, but keyword stuffing is a turn-off for users. Make sure the content's worth sticking around for.
  5. Create gift guides on your website. Either on your blog or the main site, create a series of gift guides based on product/recipient categories to help visitors find inspiration for Christmas presents.
  6. Set-up flash sales. Carefully targeted, highly specific flash sales are aimed at generating a huge volume of transactions in a short space of time. These margin-slashing sales are fantastic for shifting products and gaining an immediate influx in orders.
  7. Reduce cart abandonment. Make the checkout process as straightforward as possible to reduce the chance of customers abandoning their cart. Take a look at the top cart abandonment reasons and work to avoid them.
  8. Offer free delivery (above a spending threshold if necessary). Free delivery might be expensive to provide, but it's what customers want. Find a way to offer it above a minimum spend at the very least.
  9. Offer numerous delivery and collection options. Customers have different priorities. Some might need their order ASAP, while others would prefer to collect the parcel at a time and place that suits them.
  10. Create a detailed email marketing strategy. Marketing emails are inescapable over Christmas, so you need to work hard to make yours appealing to your customers. Where possible, split your email list into groups based on previous purchases and send different emails to each group.
  11. Let customers buy your products directly through Instagram or Facebook. This is a little fiddly to set up, but could net you more sales — particularly if your online shop isn't mobile friendly.
  12. Offer tiered discounts. Encourage higher levels of spending by increasing discounts once certain thresholds are reached. Reserve the highest level of discounts for orders that are significantly larger than average.

Final thoughts

It's really difficult to change your processes when the Christmas shopping season is already underway. To make the most out of these ideas, get started as early as you can — and if it's too late for this year, start planning for the next!

Looking for more ways to give your business a boost? Take a look through previous driving growth articles on our blog.