In our last post, we looked at the importance of planning your retail strategy before the start of the holiday season. Assuming you’ve got all those aspects locked in, let’s move on to the next step – decorating.
Remember ‘Home Alone’? Most of us can recount almost every gag in the movie. But apart from those moments, another fact that’s cemented in our memory is this – it was a Christmas movie. This association, even after so many years, is due to the visual power of décor. This festive season, you can tap into the pool of positive emotions associated with the holidays (the biggest of all being ‘spending’) simply by taking the time to incorporate an appropriate festive look in your online stores and through your social accounts.
Aim to look inspiring, not conspiring
It’s no secret that shoppers are aware of the myriad of psychological ploys employed by retailers to entice them into spending more during the holiday season. And while most shoppers tend to ignore this fact while shopping, any retail brand, which doesn’t sound genuinely participative in the holiday season, will immediately be seen as nothing but a money-grubbing Grinch.
As Trixy Eichler, head of merchandising for various large and small retail stores puts it succinctly, “When considering decorating your store, don’t limit yourself by the product in your store. Take inspiration from your surroundings, your community, what might be going on in the world. This will show your customers you’re active, aware, and participate in daily life. You are not just a sales outlet. You give people something to relate to and you’re engaging your customers.”
Now for many of you the act of physically decorating a store may not be something you do, but an online store’s front page and in many ways your social accounts are for all intents and purposes delivering the same message that a shop window would. Regardless the input required from you as a seller remains the same.
Start outside and work your way in
When planning your festive décor, start with the first point of contact for a shopper- your “window display”. As previously mentioned, by window display we are referring to your online store’s home page or your social accounts that take a pictorial focus, such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. “Window displays” are key to breaking the visual monotony, whether on a social feed or as an attractive click action on your homepage and if you can grab someone’s attention for even a few seconds, you greatly increase their willingness to “walk in”. With social posts, having relevant content that can be boosted to increase its appeal to a wider audience, beyond those of your fans, will attract people’s attention and may get them to click through to your site or “walk in” if you like.
Start your design and social posting plan by choosing a theme which reflects your store image. Is your store trendy or high-end? Will your store be offering huge bargains or will there be marquee products on sale? Your theme should reflect these elements and showcase products which reflect your store’s image.
When creating a storefront for the holiday season, start by using a background image, banner or set of images to create a clear distinction between the Christmas store and the regular store, if you are continuing to market merchandise not specifically applicable to Christmas. Consider the option of vividly showcasing just a few products. Or if you want to use a wider collage of items, consider building a story around them which intrigues shoppers to stop and take notice.
Great examples of this are creating split sections on the homepage that have a targeted gift market i.e ‘Gifts for Him’ or ‘Gift for Her’ and even by pricing, ‘Gifts for under $20’. You can then use relevant hashtags through social media to get the product in front of people looking for ideas and link them back to your store.
Decorating your store with no walls
As web usability guru Jakob Nielsen puts it, the reason we must decorate our websites for the holidays is “…because we respect users as human beings, rather than simply as ‘eyeballs’ or a source of e-commerce transactions…it is a way for websites to connect to users and be seen as welcoming environments, rather than places focused solely on money-grubbing.”
With a few simple touches to your online store, you can translate the festive spirit customers enjoy in your physical store and drive them to buy more.
More ideas for your graphics
If your website uses a header, updating it with a seasonal image can be a great start to sprucing up your site for the holidays. Also consider adding some sidebar images with holiday graphics and, if you have the time and the resources, try to incorporate your products into the graphics as well.
If you can’t pull this off in time, use what you have available. For instance, you could simply decorate your site’s background image with holiday snapshots from you and your employees’ families.
Tell interesting holiday stories
If your website features a carousel on the homepage, this is a great way to incorporate your brand’s products with the holiday season. Use each image to create a story around a single product or a group of products. Your carousel can do more than just advertise your wares during the holidays, it can become a great medium to highlight new gifts this season and even push gifting of items which may not be getting as much attention across your site.
Using your social accounts to tell an engaging holiday story is a great way to get people connected to your brand and product and will leave them waiting for the next update. With the introduction of video in social, this is a great way to tell stories to the visual people in the world. Creating short, entertaining videos as little commercials will stop people in their tracks when reading through their social feeds. Producing videos up to around 30 seconds is ideal and easy to do with apps like Vine and Instagram and if you’re using an iPhone the built in apps from Apple are a great movie studio for the beginner. If commercials aren’t your thing, find someone you know to create review videos or how to videos, if they apply to your product.
Say hello with a holiday smile
Last, but not least, if your homepage has a welcome message, take a few minutes to update it with a note about the holidays. Here’s your chance to really be creative. Instead of just a boring “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, think of how you can incorporate your brand’s ethos into this message or simply let customers know how your brand plans to celebrate the holiday season this year.
Decorating for the holidays should always be light-hearted yet subtly tactical. If done well, it can put customers in the right mood to shop, draw attention to items you would like to sell and above all, make your brand a friendly place to shop this season. In our next post, we’ll look at building your customer base through customer service (which always get more strenuous during the holidays). For now, as you begin decorating for more #HolidaySales, just remember to stick to a theme, be prudent in your choices and above all else, have fun doing it.