Will It Be Naughty or Nice?
On Dasher, On Dancer, On Master and Visa! Without doubt, the 2020 holiday season will be one for the record books — either good, bad or somewhere in the middle! The timeline of Christmas selling continues to evolve, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday compelling many retailers to be “first out” with the holiday. As a result, the transition time between Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas has become shorter and shorter each year as we compete with the efficiency of the 24/7 online “clicks” to buy floral products and other gifting items. In addition, the convenience of same-day, next day, and free delivery options has raised the bar of service expectations in the eyes of today’s consumers. And this year, we’ve fast-forwarded into “the Sword of Damocles”, where COVID-19 has piled on additional pressures to an already stress-filled selling season! So, what’s in store this year and how can we formulate a business plan that will mitigate the sleigh-loads of challenges this year? Here are five key business elements for your consideration:
1. Don’t give The Grinch too much power
The light at the end of the tunnel is happening now, albeit much more slowly than many of us would like. Businesses are opening back up to a “new normal” as our customers are simultaneously learning how to navigate through this pandemic. The “good news” is that we and our customers are learning. While many variables are still unknown, the coronavirus doesn’t have to steal Christmas. The most successful businesses have not waited to get back to normal but, in fact, have pushed the envelope toward new ways to interact with customers and entice them to buy. Our customers hope to return to normal as quickly as we do! Let’s meet them safely along that path!
2. Work with Your Suppliers and Wholesalers
This isn’t a time to “work solo”. It’s time to work in lockstep with your favorite suppliers and wholesalers. By becoming familiar with a supplier’s supply chain challenges and adapting to it, the retail side will have a much greater opportunity to grow exponentially. Schedule an online planning meeting, and don’t be afraid to ask:
- “How can I optimize my ordering to have the greatest outcome?”
- “Can we work together on some promotional pricing to drive customer traffic?”
- “Are there services or products that your company offers that I am not taking advantage of right now?”
3. Review New Category Opportunities
Did you know that many online “flower” companies sell more non-floral products than flowers? Maybe now is the time to review your line-up and assess additional lines that may provide additional income to your business. Did you know that 70% of gift purchases are unplanned? Your customers are already coming to you for a “gift”, so what else may they be interested in buying that would coordinate with their plant or flower purchase? Fact: An average U.S. household will spend $1500 on Christmas gifts this year in addition to $60 per household in decorative purchases.
4. Ramp Up the Service Initiative
Almost half of all consumers report that they would return to a retailer if they felt that the retailer understood both their visible and their latent needs. No doubt….repeat purchases are the “Holy Grail” in our business, and in today’s world. Brainstorm with the team! Are there new ways that could raise your company’s service image at a time when your customers need white-glove service the most? Are there ways to make online and offline shopping more convenient in today’s environment?
5. Appeal to the Senses
Remember… customers shop with five senses, not one. Many times, a merchandising plan focuses solely on the visual aspect and completely disregards the other four senses. As we discussed at the beginning, retail has dramatically changed and the best way for us to compete with online, non-floral gifting options is to ramp up our merchandising elements to engage all five of these senses:
- Sight: All visual cues including color, shape, harmony, lighting, proportion, contrast, freshness and space. What are the color trends for Christmas 2020? Classic and naval blues, platinum, buffalo check, and earthy metals
- Sound: All audible sounds within the store including music. As a rule of thumb, mellow music encourages longer browsing, while more trendy music attracts a younger demographic.
- Touch: All tactile experiences within the shopping environment including pots, baskets, fabrics, bows, upgrades, and even the plants and flowers, themselves! Also, remember that the weight of the product equates to “monetary value” in the consumers’ eyes.
- Smell: All fragrances within the environment such as cinnamon, vanilla, berries, and of course, evergreen. The sense of smell is a “fast track” to the part of the brain that controls emotion and memory. Consequently, fragrance is an extremely important component of durable brand identity.
- Taste: The holidays are all about taste and there are many ways to bring taste into the floral shoppe by offering happy-hour sweet bites, or by offering a free piece of chocolate or mini candy cane with every floral purchase.
Now more than ever, the importance of a tight business strategy and a well-executed merchandising plan will become the conjoining force between customer engagement and the optimization of your sales and profit goals. While we’re all collectively standing under the mistletoe — let’s hope for that sweet kiss of success in 2020! By Cindy Hanauer Trustee Emeritus; American Floral Endowment