Feature / News

The calm after the storm, before the panic

As we charge towards Boxing Day, in the last days of Christmas gifting season, it is clear that there has been a shift coming. The shift that has snuck upon us is the Black Friday/Cyber Monday curveball, it started here in Australia in 2013 and it now dictates peak trade period.

So, what I would like to review here, with these facts not going anywhere, is how you can make the most of your businesses ‘quiet’ time come January and February 2020. This is peak holiday period, and stores tend to stay on sale until early February when the new trans seasonal stock starts to arrive.

Six month marketing plan

Create a monthly schedule from February until end of financial year. The marketing/planning calender’s purpose is to lay out the six months ahead and avoid ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to poor sales. In this schedule use the below tips so that you and your team can see what is coming. It will also help you budget for events and marketing.

  • Using your sales data from year prior, have a look at where the business peaks and troughs.
  • What type of events appeal to your customer? Eg. Pre-season launch/Preview- this makes VIP customers feel privy to secret information and can allow for pre-order sales to guarantee you a good sell-through. This kind of event can be applied for any product from fashion to tech.
  • Once you have decided on these, enter them in to your calender, add reminder alarms if need be, so that nothing sneaks up on you.
  • When will your store Visual Merchandising and new windows be installed and what budget and strategy will you apply.

For example, will you invest in an amazing window to launch the new season and look completely fresh and new. This does not need to be changed for a few months, as long as the product displayed in the windows is.

  • Does your customer relate to the traditional retail sales like Valentines Day, Easter or Mother’s Day and if not, what events appeal to them?

Find a template that works for you, a generic Word Calendar, and Xcel spreadsheet, something tangible from Officeworks or Kikki.K. A really nice calendar that includes key dates is- https://www.esendex.com.au/blog/post/the-2019-2020-retail-calendar/

Create customer profile

I love this trick, it is tried and tested and actually really can test how well you know your customer. Give them a name, age, demographic, friends, family, budget, occupation and so on.

Once you have completed your profile/s read it and check that your product, store, socials and e-comm are all in line with those values. If you find discrepancies, you can set to work correcting your business offering to get back on track. On the other hand, if you are spot on, ask yourself what more can you do and how can you reach out further to extend yourself.

This is a great way to assess where you are going for 2020.

Mission Statement or Call to action

A good mission statement should aim to inspire and transform your business. They provide a clearly stated business purpose and goals to succeed. Your mission statement and corporate philosophy need to work together to set the culture, and guide you from past to future in your business.

Anyone who reads or hears this will gain a clear understanding of your brand identity and ethos. It is not easy to do, but it is very important to have one that you and your team are committed to.

It is time to get writing!

Reflection and Correction

Looking back on 2019, make some notes about some stand out fails- we all have them! My list is too long this year, but my goodness, have I learnt a lot. By recognising where you went wrong, you can make a direct plan to improve on those misgivings and hopefully look back and smile, knowing that you are now stronger and wiser.

This is classic advice, but just thinking about is not enough, write it down and keep it handy to remind yourself at different stages of the year. I like to make notes in my calendar, like ‘Last year when we ran the fashion show in-store, I overspent on food and drink by $500. Remember to reduce the budget and waste.’

Staff one-on-one and team talk

Take time out to chat with your team, one-on-one and then as a team. Make sure your expectations are clear and on the table, and that your precious team members feel heard and understood.

This is really good to conduct a few times a year. Keep it informal, but do take notes and let your staff member take notes as well. After the meeting, put everything in an email to summarise and reiterate a positive attitude and culture.

On the other hand, this is a good time to re-assess any team members who are not the right it for your business.

The team meeting or activity before high season begins should be a positive connecting experience. An idea that I am really loving is having an open forum awards event. This entails the group voting on different categories, for example Best Salesperson, but this is not decided by the manager or owner in private. The candidates all vote and talk about why they are making the nomination. It opens the line of communication, encourages the team to support each other and talk about the strengths and talents of their co-workers.

These tips make for a clear focus to ring in the new year during a time that can often be stressful and nerve-wracking. Good planning, assessment and reflection can be a real circuit-braker and make a real difference to your business and perspective.

Happy trading!


Written by Gemma Ostroburski- Founder of TalkShop Bespoke Retail Consulting



You can hear more tips for your retail business from Gemma at her Free Seminar Session, ‘Hi Bricks and Mortar, my name is Online, nice to e-meet you!’, on Sunday 2 February at Fashion Exposed Now.

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