If there is one holiday that shouldn’t give retailers the heebie-jeebies, it would have to be Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending will reach $9.1 billion in the United States this year, making it a truly booming business. Although the colors of fall haven’t made their annual appearance just yet, it’s not too early to build an effective Halloween marketing strategy. Both global retail giants and specialized seasonal retailers are getting increasingly creative when it comes to surprising and delighting their customers for Halloween, making it even more challenging for today’s small to medium retailers to keep up with their innovative ideas. So, what are some simple ways retailers can use to ensure their strategies are as sharp as they can be?
Offer What Shoppers of All Ages Want
Although Halloween is extremely popular among children, it doesn’t mean that adults should be overlooked in your sales strategy, especially since Millennials are the generation that currently spends the most on Halloween. (Business of Fashion) Offering a wide selection of costumes of all sizes and styles along with thematic decor and treats is a great start, but it’s equally essential to ensure adequate stock for such a short-lived event. A robust order management system is the ideal tool to manage and keep track of stock, ensuring you’ll always meet demand during this busy time of year. A CRM solution comes in handy to track key metrics and emerging trends, and ensure that you continually stock the costumes your customers are looking for. This year, for instance, “2.9 million children plan to dress as Batman characters.” (NRF) Retailers who run out of Batman characters, might not only disappoint the children, but could also annoy their busy parents who are forced to visit other stores.
Make the Customer Experience Frighteningly Good
Both your e-commerce platform and your brick-and-mortar stores need to be ready for Halloween shoppers far in advance of the actual holiday. Whether you’re sending out a marketing email to your customers, or decorating your storefront for All Hallows’ Eve, leave no detail to chance. The experience should be as interactive and original as possible – from adding a small haunted house at the store entrance, to adding spooky sounds and special effects – and always keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to encourage further store visits. Dressing your sales associates in colorful, creative costumes can also be a winning strategy to engage with customers even more. Halloween is a fun-filled holiday, and the shopping experience prior to it should be an enjoyable part of the festivities.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Many Halloween enthusiasts search for costume and decor inspiration on Pinterest. DIY projects are extremely popular on the social media platform, and brands that partner with Pinterest are likelier to be noticed by customers and spark their interest. To incorporate Pinterest into your sales strategy effectively, you’ll need to make it “easy to browse through a board and then to your e-commerce site.” (RetailDive) A social selling feature on your e-commerce platform is also critical this time of year. Customers you build and nurture a relationship with will likely be coming back for more. Halloween is a community-based event, and provides the perfect opportunity to focus on the associate-customer relationship.
Know Where Your Customers Are Spending the Most
Understanding your shoppers’ behaviors far in advance is essential to adapting your inventory strategy accordingly, and ensuring that you always carry the right inventory. For instance, NRF estimates that this year 95% of shoppers plan to purchase candy, while 72% plan to purchase decorations, and 69% costumes. (NRF) Offering seasonal items to reinforce a sense of exclusivity is also a strategy many successful retailers implement each year, and one that could work effectively for your business as well. Intelligent pricing is also critical to keep pace with or even outpace the competition, as it can help determine the ideal times to increase prices and thus positively influence your sales.
Learn from Previous Mistakes and Adapt Your Strategy Accordingly
Keeping track of your KPIs is essential, as they help identify areas in which you were not as successful as anticipated and the ones in which you outperformed. (Forbes) You should also encourage customers to write online reviews and verbally record what they experienced in your POS solution, as there is no better way to acknowledge your customers’ feedback, and to keep getting more agile. What do your customers think of your in-store decorations? How about your selection of costumes? Focusing on both what you need to improve and maintain is an excellent way to ensure customers will remain loyal, and that what you offer truly resonates with them. (Forbes) Retailers who hope to be the ultimate reference for Halloween also need to constantly innovate and offer up-to-date products. For instance, horror movies are increasingly popular at the box office, and many shoppers anticipate dressing as their favorite villain, only months or even weeks after the film debuts.