8 M any retailers and restylers rely on strong October, November, and December sales to carry them through the lull of the New Year. Minimize the impact e-commerce sales can have on your brick-and-mortar business profits by appealing to the nostalgia of traditional holiday shopping: develop a solid sales plan, secure proper seasonal inventory, showcase an attractive and inviting storefront, and create custom in-store promotions. Develop A Solid Sales Plan “We start talking about the holidays in early September and put together our store flyer by earlyOctober.We look at previous year sales, as well as new items and widgets in every price range, including gifts under $25 and $50. Then we adjust store inventory based on that information,” said Rudy Forlenza, industry veteran of 40 years and General Manager of 19 A&A Auto stores located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Drum excitement for the upcoming holiday season by launching a toy drive like the team at Auto Definitions, or start an online contest and allow for the collection of consumer contact information so they can be entered to win a prize. “Make the prize worth the participation. Use the same concept to encourage another purchase after Christmas and carry the contest right through New Year’s,” said Jason McDonald, Director of Canadian Sales at Keystone. Whatever the decision, make social media a big part of the execution plan and remember to have fun. “Pre-promote to draw customers in. Encourage customers to follow you for future promotional offers, i.e., 12 tweets of Christmas or daily deals,” continued McDonald. Paul Breton, owner of Car-risma in Lowell, Massachusetts, advertises holiday specials on the shopwebsite, communicates deals and product selection with customers via social media, and starts to hang up the Christmas decorations right after Halloween. “We do a good business in remote car starters during fall. We save all those boxes and then do a remote starter tree display (by the toy soldier) for the holidays,” said Breton. First Impressions Count Help make it an enjoyable retail experience by creating an engaging first impression. “We go all out for Christmas with competitive Black Friday sales, festive music, a special showroomfloor setup, and in-store giveaways with purchase,” said Pat Riley, StoreManager at A&A Auto in Dallas, Pennsylvania. First, always greet consumers with a clean, organized, and presentable storefront that captures interest. Then showcase an appropriate mix of holiday décor and seasonal products. “Really take advantage of the holiday selling season. Entice them to step inside and spend,” said Riley. “The store displays, such as end caps, display tables, gift guides, and holiday flyers, should be placed in high-traffic areas,” added Forlenza. Breton keeps Keystone’s holiday program flyers by the register and in the catalog section, sharing the deals with every customer who passes through. And don’t forget about the kids! “Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most like inexpensive pre-wrapped gifts, such as candy canes, mini flashlights, or Hot Wheels cars (preferably with your logo on the package). Hand them out to kids as they come in and watch them light up,” saidMcDonald. Happy kids equate to happy parents during the shopping experience. Set The Mood For The Right Products to Sell It’s also important to ensure an effective use of color, lighting, music, product segmentation, display and demonstration, directional signage, and aisle presentation. All of these influence consumer perspectives and are effective tools in converting window shopping to actual sales. Focus on the appropriate combination of new and top selling products/applications, seasonal favorites, impulse buys, and clearance or discounted items. “It’s a good time of year to mark down the items that have stalled during recent months,” said Breton.