How Your Consignment Store Can Make the Most of Christmas Shopping
Dec 6, 2022
The Christmas shopping season brings a rush of customers and revenue to retailers and resellers alike. In fact, for many businesses, Christmas generates a significant portion of the money that keeps them open throughout the following year. And consignment businesses are poised to do particularly well during the holidays.
Consignment at Christmastime
Consignment stores tend to offer unique items that aren't available at mass retailers---an ideal gift-finding solution for the creative giver looking for one-of-a-kind presents. And many stores offer significant holiday promotions and discounts compared to those offered by retail businesses, which can attract bargain hunters. For many shoppers, that's an irresistible combination: high-quality, unique gifts at lower prices than they could find elsewhere.
The result? An uptick in foot traffic. Sales can often increase by up to 20% in the weeks leading up to Christmas. But not only are there more customers cycling through; there are often more consignors dropping items off. Many consignors know that the stores they work with will be more busy and that their items are more likely to sell quickly. Consignors may also be more likely to consign holiday-themed items like decorations and festive clothing. While it's not universal, some stores can see an increase in inventory volume leading up to December 25th.
Make the most of the season
Without a plan of action, though, it's all too easy for business owners to miss out on these benefits. In order to take full advantage of rising sales and consignments, you need to implement some strategic best practices:
Increase staff numbers
Promote gift cards
Offer free shipping
Offer gift wrapping services
Increase staff numbers
When it comes to the Christmas shopping the season, the more people working, the merrier!
Without enough manpower, you won't be able to handle the sheer volume of items passing in and out of your store, so it's crucial to increase the number of people you have working on the floor each day during busy times.
A common way to do this is to simply hire seasonal employees who work for the duration of the holiday season. Of course, hiring these workers isn't exactly the same as hiring employees during a normal season. You don't necessarily have the luxury of time to train them as thoroughly as you train your other employees, so as you evaluate applications, you should keep a few things in mind.
First, make sure that they're already familiar with the consignment process and are equipped to answer frequently asked questions from both shoppers and consignors. Second, they should be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment and should be capable of handling high volumes of traffic, so they should ideally already be familiar with the POS system you use. And third, you'll want to make sure that they're friendly and outgoing---even more so than your long-term employees during the rest of the year. After all, nobody wants to go Christmas shopping at a store with flat-line, unwelcoming employees!
You may find yourself busy enough, though, that you don't even have time to work through applications for new employees. So another option is to simply have your regular staff work additional hours.
If you go this route, just be sure to clearly communicate your expectations. Your employees should know how many hours you need them to work and what tasks they need to do during those hours. As much as possible, be flexible with their schedules. With increased store traffic and co-workers going on vacations, they may need to be available at odd times or on weekends, so you don't want to push them to work during times when they can't reasonably work. And it should go without saying that you should compensate them appropriately. This will help motivate them to provide excellent customer service and do their jobs well during what can be a stressful time. You can even offer them special discounts on store items for taking extra shifts.
Promote gift cards
Gift cards are popular during the Christmas season because a lot of people are hard to shop for. Most of us probably know someone who's very particular about the clothes they wear or the home decor they have. For a lot of shoppers, gift cards make it easy to give a more personalized gift without having to know exactly what to get, and this gives you a unique chance to capitalize on higher-than-usual demand for your own store's gift cards.
One way to promote gift cards leading up to Christmas is to offer a discount of future purchases. For example, you could offer a 10% discount on all future purchases when a shopper buys a $100 gift card. You should also be promoting them through whatever social media channels you're active on, and even through email marketing to people who signed up for updates from you. You can even create special holiday-themed gift card designs to make them more festive!
Keep in mind that your cards should be valid for both online and in-store purchases (if you have an online store). This year, over half of all Christmas shoppers expect to do their shopping online, so it's important to provide as many options for making online purchases as possible. And if you offer a discount on future purchases in exchange for purchasing the gift card, include a promotional code the customer can use whenever they patronize your store. Finally, if you apply an expiration date to the card, be sure to clearly communicate that date. No one likes to come in with a gift card, only to find out it expired the week before!
The discounts you offer can take many forms. A common way to discount items is to offer a simple percentage off of a purchase. For example, you may decide to offer 20% off all purchases made on or after December 1. But another popular approach is to offer BOGO---buy one, get one. This works particularly well for smaller, less expensive items; it allows buyers to buy one inexpensive gift for someone and get another of the same gift for free for someone else.
You can also offer special discounts on certain types of items, like clothing, accessories, or specific brands. And many stores offer loyalty programs that give shoppers a certain number of points for every dollar spent at the store. These points can then be redeemed for discounts on future purchases.
But you don't have to limit your discounts to shoppers. Some businesses offer unique discounts to their consignors in order to incentivize them to consign more items during the Christmas shopping season. The simplest, of course, is to give consignors a greater percentage of each item of theirs that is sold. But another popular approach is to hold a Consignor Appreciation day, where consignors can earn points for every dollar they spend, which they can then apply in the future to get discounts on items they purchase.
Offer free shipping
Online shoppers love free shipping. And with the increased sales volume you'll likely see, offering free shipping may be a viable way to incentivize your online customers to patronize your business.
If you want to keep the offer simple, you can provide free shipping on all orders over a certain amount---say, $100. Or, you can offer free shipping on orders of any amount made within a certain time period, such as the first two weeks of December, or between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And if a customer is local but still wants to do their shopping online, you can also provide in-store pickup, which allows you and the customer to avoid shipping costs altogether while still enjoying some of the ease of online shopping.
Offer gift wrapping services
Gift wrapping is yet another service you can provide to help your customers and gain their loyalty.
The more time and energy you save your shoppers, the more they'll appreciate you, and the more likely they'll be to return in the future. And wrapping your shoppers' gifts for them is one of the best ways to spare them effort and stress. Gift wrapping also makes your store look more professional by showing that you're willing to go the extra mile to provide a high-quality shopping experience.
If you decide to offer this service, make sure to do the wrapping neatly and professionally. Gifts should be wrapped in clean paper with straight edges and no wrinkles. You can find lots of how-to videos on YouTube explaining how to attractively wrap gifts. You'll also need to make sure the gifts are wrapped in such a way that the contents are completely concealed so sneak-peekers can't guess what's inside.
As much as possible, you should also use appropriately-sized boxes and wrappings. You don't want to put a shirt in a box meant for a large throw pillow, or a book in a box the size of a backpack. And every gift should be clearly labeled, meaning that the name of the recipient and the name of the sender are written clearly and beautifully on a tag attached to a bow. Finally, the most important element of wrapping is wrapping every gift on time. The best-wrapped gift loses its impact if it isn't delivered until December 26.
Essentially, the practices we've covered can be broken down into two categories. There are the store-oriented tips, like having enough employees to handle the volume of sales, and there are the customer-oriented tips, like offering gift wrapping and discounts.
To fully capitalize on the holiday shopping season, you'll need to implement both types of practices. You've probably already implemented at least one or two of them, but if you haven't, we recommend starting simple with free shipping and increasing staff hours. From there, you can scale up as you're able. And even if you aren't able to use all these tips, don't worry---there's always next Christmas!