As small businesses gear up for holiday sales and Small Business Saturday Nov. 30, retailers should also take a look at the way they're selling -- the storefronts, the curb appeal, the experience for the shopper.
American Express OPEN and retail expert Patricia Norrins offer their tips:
1. Spruce up the curb appeal. Research has shown that retailers have thirty seconds or less to attract a customer, and much of a customer's decision to enter the store is based on how inviting the store looks. Before you begin holiday merchandising in earnest, tidy up the outside of your store. Wash the windows. Sweep the outside. Consider adding festive holiday garland and decorative holiday planters.
2. Think of window displays as billboards for your stores: They communicate an important message about the products you sell. Showcase products you have an ample supply of, use vertical height and width to make a statement, use creative signage or props to tell a story, balance the amount of merchandise you include, and get creative. If your store windows are really clever, customers may even take pictures and share them via social media. That can help you build foot traffic exponentially.
3. Give your store space a different and distinctive look for the season. Move merchandise around in the store. Freshen displays. Give customers a reason to notice merchandise they may overlooked on previous trips.
Don't just relegate holiday fare to a small section of the store. Create festive displays throughout the store to give a sense of cohesion. Consider positioning the most popular holiday products as a focal display where everyone who enters the store is sure to see and buy them.
4. Create themed displays within your store. Group merchandise by theme to make it easier for customers to shop. It also makes for a stronger visual impact.
5. Mix natural and handmade elements in displays: Getting crafty with some of your display props by using Pinterest to learn DIY tips for making garland, wreaths, store props and signs. Add in natural floral elements such as pine and spruce to add fragrance and a warm, inviting feel.
6. Use bold signs and props: They'll help you communicate what you're selling and attract customers throughout your store.
7. Incorporate fragrances, sounds and tastes of the season: Remember, vision is just one of the five sense. Engage smell, sound and taste and you're likely to sell more products. Fifty-five percent of customers make a purchase when they had not planned to after being able to taste-test a product, according to a recent study conducted by Iowa State University. Also consider playing holiday music, burning holiday scented candles or selling holiday scented potpourri.
8. Sprinkle in holiday signs throughout the store. Use holiday signs to attracts customers to various displays throughout your store, but make sure they communicate a quick message about the products being sold and contribute to the overall holiday feel within the store.
9. Merchandise your cash wrap. Think strategically about which small stocking-stuffer items, should be sold near the cash register. Prominently display your holiday gift wrap and signage indicating if gift wrapping is free of charge. Create an attractive holiday gift card or gift certificate display, along with adding signage to promote holiday store specials and special events taking place in the store throughout the season.
10. Remember, your holiday merchandising is an extension of your store's brand. Your merchandising strategy should express the essence of your store's brand and personality. This will help you attract customers, keep them shopping longer, and ultimately, encourage them to buy more products.