Have you ever rushed out to buy some flowers as a last-minute Mother’s Day gift? If so, a lot of work went into making sure you left the shop happy with your purchase.
Mother’s Day is a vital part of the retail calendar for many small businesses, but having such high sales volumes across a short period of time brings challenges.
So how do you make the most of it? Here are five key strategies to help.
See things clearly
Any business that has seasonal peaks should be putting a special emphasis on forecasting and ordering. Get this right on Mother’s Day, and the Sunday lunch will taste all the better for it.
What are consumers spending?
“We have to make sure we get in early with orders and secure the stock,” says Penny Wilson, co-founder of gift retailer BornGifted.co.uk. “We’re finding that suppliers tend to make just one batch now, and when it’s gone it’s gone. If we need to re-order, then often it’s too late.”
Penny says it’s important to become good at trend-spotting, and Born Gifted will test the market with small orders of stock well in advance of the key sales periods.
But there can be added difficulties in areas that someone new to the market may not necessarily expect. For instance, having the money to be able to place the large orders needed to maximise sales .
“We have to make sure we put money aside so we have the funds available,” says Penny. “It puts pressure on different parts of the year.”
Do you know who you’re talking to?
It’s not just about the product. It’s about the marketing and positioning of it too. Making sure you take advantage of all the available spend, by targeting everybody who might buy from you, can sometimes mean looking beyond your traditional market.
“We have lots of dads buying on behalf of a baby, and people buy for grandparents too,” says Penny. “Buying for grandparents really boosts our Mother’s Day – lots of people do it.”
Graham Winn, owner of Flowercard, is also looking to grow into non-traditional demographics. The business sells floral gifts combined with a personalised card and counts 80% of its customers as retired or semi-retired. But Graham has identified a younger consumer as a different market to grow.
“We’re trying to broaden our range of targeting,” he says. “A 25-year-old man might not buy a flowercard, but a 35-year-old woman would. We’re focusing on this group now, as well as older consumers.”
Look your best
However you’re selling your product, don’t present it in a way that only a mother could love.
It goes without saying (almost) that your payment systems need to be safe, secure and reliable, but Jo Simpson, Barclaycard’s Strategic New Business Manager, says that if you’re an online business you need to think mobile too.
“There are still vast numbers of merchants that don’t have mobile versions of their web pages – I personally tend to move off them if this is the case,” she says.
Where are consumers buying?
Flowercard has a mobile-optimised website that converts to fit mobile devices, but Graham says the next stage is a bespoke mobile site.
“To do it properly, you’ve almost got to design the site from scratch. We’re doing it in the next 12 months, and we want three clicks to order – we want to make it as quick, easy and seamless as possible.”
It’s also worth considering whether there are any alternative sales channels to explore . Pop-ups, starting to take payments online or increasing the variety of payment solutions you offer can all be good options..
Marilyn Mountford’s company Cushions by Design is a good example of how businesses can extend their sales footprint. The business offers cushions and throws under its own umbrella brand. These are handmade in the UK from a range of independent producers – including stay-at-home mums – who use the site as an additional sales channel.
“I find suppliers that I like and I sell their products through the website,” she says. “I take the initial order, then I put that order into the supplier and they send the goods out.”
Give people what they want
In a business with seasonal peaks, it’s vital that your offering hits the spot when it comes to what consumers are looking for. Competition is intense, and you only have a few days to get much of the year’s cash through the tills. – do we think this is a bit of an outdate phrase given the online piece?
Where are consumers going?
“We’re launching a Sunday delivery service for Mother’s Day this year,” says Graham. “I expect 80% of people who use it to be existing customers who view it as an additional service, but 20% to be new customers who specifically want something to arrive on the day.”
Graham is also introducing new product options to encourage customers to return. That’s certainly worth doing – it’s widely accepted that it’s much more expensive to win a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.
“We’re developing our product range to provide more variety,” says Graham. “Customers love our product, but they don’t always want to buy the same thing every year. We’re trying to give them a different idea on the same theme.”
Make friends with people
If you want to be successful during hectic periods, you need to stand out in the crowd. Social media is your friend, as is traditional media.
“I do mail-outs to journalists, and if you don’t have a lot of money for online marketing you’ve got to be street savvy,” says Marilyn.
“I’m thinking all the time about what’s seasonal, what will connect with journalists. You’ve always got to go in with an angle to try to get people interested.”
Marilyn also says seasonal events such as Mother’s Day are great because they’re an opportunity to use social media to raise the profile of the business. But if you want to really connect, it can’t just be about sales.
“I talk about lots of things on social media – people need to see you as a friendly voice,” she says.
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All the figures in this article’s infographics are taken from consumer research commissioned by Barclaycard in February 2016.
Please note that the views expressed in this article are personal opinions. Barclaycard cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this article or any of the information set out in it.
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