Retail sales generally slow down in January and February, giving you extra time to think about your business goals and performance. With the two busiest shopping months of the year behind you, you can take the time to look at your traffic and sales patterns from the last year, perfect your inventory, and plan creative campaigns to grow your brand.
Analyze Traffic & Sales Data Year Over Year
When sales drop off in January after the holidays, it can be hard to stay focused on the overall growth of your brand. However, you can use this extra time to evaluate the sales data you got from customers making purchases in November and December. Instead of looking at these sales month over month, you should look at them cyclically, or year over year. For example, you would want to compare your December 2018 sales to your December 2017 sales. Retail sales happen cyclically with the holidays, so comparing one month to another won’t give you a good sense for how your business is growing.
Some of the data points you should analyze are your sales by SKU (stock keeping unit), the sales for your most expensive items, and your traffic numbers (number of people who came into your shop or visited your website) versus your conversion numbers (number of people who bought something from you in-store or online). Then compare these numbers to the prior year’s data.
Exploring this data can help you set goals for 2019. Look at your growth year over year and set slightly more aggressive targets for this next year. Think about where you should focus your efforts. Is it on customer experience, advertising, promotions, merchandising, or social media? What did you learn from your marketing efforts in December? Should you have started promoting holiday sales or prepped your business for the holidays earlier? Find out where your sales are coming from, how people heard of your brand, and use the data you’ve analyzed for your yearly growth to set new targets for 2019.
You probably aren’t swapping out your inventory yet for spring, so use this slower sales time to determine which products are the most popular and profitable for your brand. Calculate your cost of goods sold (COGS) to understand which products have the highest return and are the best to carry in your store.
Even if you sell less of these higher-profit products, they can help make up for slower sales. So put extra effort into the items you carry that have a high-profit margin by featuring them in your displays and training your sales associates to suggest them to customers.
Streamline Customer Experience
Returns are often higher than usual in January, so now is a great time to try to convert your returns into new sales. As part of your customer experience strategy, try to simplify returns for your customers and improve their overall experience in your store.This will help you build loyal customers that come back and convert.
You should also try reaching out to new customers who bought from you during November and December. Send them promotions or offers to entice them back to your shop, engage them with new content or limited-edition items, and show them how your brand can improve their life. Look at your sales data to see what these customers bought. If they bought one item, think about how you can entice them to buy a second, complementary product or something new for themselves if their previous purchases were gifts.
Or invite your customers to events to get them into your shop and boost your in-store sales. Wellness is a big theme for January and February, and even if you aren’t a health or wellness brand, you can use this message in your marketing or events. For example, if you sell sweatshirts, you could host a workout and sell your shirts at them. Or you could partner with another brand to host an event that’s wellness-focused. For example, MEND Jewelry, whose gemstones are designed to align, elevate, and empower women, is hosting a Wellness Check-In at Fourpost with other brands that offer skincare and beauty products, well-being workshops, and social-impact driven apparel.
Since people are no longer buying for the holidays, you have to appeal to them in other ways. Look at the big holidays and events for retail year-round and use your downtime to plan creative campaigns and events around them.
After looking at your traffic patterns from prior years, you should have a better understanding of when you need more staff in your shop. If you found your store under or over-staffed during the holidays, adjust your plans to meet your customers’ needs.
Plus, you can use this slower time of year to really train your staff on your products and make sure they’re knowledgeable about your brand story. Teach them how to provide excellent customer service to your shoppers as well. You may also find it helpful to schedule personal check-ins with your staff to see how they’re doing and how they want to grow with your brand this year.