How to take on your store’s holiday competition and win

October 17, 2018

This post has been updated and reprinted from Oct. 2017

7 tips for consignment stores who want to knock out their competition

With bedrock stores like Sears filing for Chapter 11, many others are running scared. Some analysts suggest the rise in online shopping means physical stores will become a thing of the past. However, according to recent reports, over 70% of shoppers still like to see a product in store before they buy it. As a result, retailers are fighting back and changing the way they do business. Consignment stores should too. Here are 7 tips on how to take on your store’s holiday competition and win!

Tip #1 Create an awesome bargain area in the back

Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, wrote an article titled, How should independents prepare for Black Friday? He suggested shops gather items throughout the store that have been there awhile and slash prices. For consignment stores, choose the “I’m-not-sure-my-customers-will-like-it-but-I’ll-consign-it-anyway” items and gather merchandise that has converted to store inventory. Discount those items heavily and add them to a special sale section in the back. If Black Friday shoppers are looking for bargains, you’ll have them.

Tip #2 Promote an event, not a deal

Black Friday was made for the deal. It’s designed to bring in a crowd with a loss leader and count on them spending more. Instead of emphasizing your merchandise, create an event. MarTechSeries, a marketing tech company, says 60% of consumers are willing to attend a store event, but only 23% have ever been invited. Events are your “secret weapon” against your store’s holiday competition. Consider these dates:

  • Friday, November 23 is Black Friday
  • Saturday, November 24 is Shop Small Saturday
  • Sunday, November 25 and Monday, November 26 are Cyber holidays.
  • Tuesday, November 27 is Giving Tuesday
  • Monday, December 10 is Green Monday

Take on your store's holiday competition with a one-two punchOf course, you can always create your own holiday too. Publicize the event on your website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and in-store. Also, assign someone the special task of photographing for additional publicity.

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Tip #3 Treat shoppers with kid gloves

Every person that enters your store is a gift. With the rise of online shopping, brick and mortar will only thrive if they offer what online can’t…personal service. Your shop should look, feel and smell like the holidays. Here’s a few ideas to boost your service and your bottom line.

  • Invite a Girl Scout troop or senior’s group to offer free gift wrap in return for a donation.
  • Offer a hot beverage and/or Christmas cookies or candy canes.
  • Set aside a place for shoppers to rest their weary bones.
  • Make sure your cash wrap and store aisles are cleared and capable of handling the purses and many packages of shoppers.
  • Partner with another local business. Offer free foot or shoulder massages, makeup or scarf tying demonstrations, even a children’s play area.
  • Provide concierge service to pick up or drop off merchandise. Check out one of Traxia’s partners Truxx for a unique and inexpensive delivery option.

These days, it’s all about the experience. Create a relaxed atmosphere. Show shoppers how they can get the best without spending the most. Have your sales team read, 10 customer service tips your sales team needs to adopt today.

Tip #4 Take advantage of video

Nowadays, video is the medium of choice. From Facebook live to short, animated videos, start using them. I wouldn’t watch a video of someone making an Amazon buy, but I would enjoy seeing fun, behind-the scenes antics of your store. If you do furniture consignment, create vignettes with your merchandise and video shoppers enjoying them. Highlight your salespeople and tell a funny fact about each one. Poke fun at the owner or manager. Show a shopper entering the dressing room. Then, cut immediately to her appearing in her new outfit. Make videos that are short, light-hearted and fun. Even something as simple as Ripl, can dramatically increase engagement in your Facebook posts.

 Tip #5 Run a contest

Who’s looking for a fun contest idea that draws shoppers into your store and builds your brand? (This is where you raise your hand.) I mentioned ShortStack in an earlier post. Head over and see the many free contest templates they offer. Choose from a quiz, photo contest, giveaway or any of the other templates they provide. As always, add a store-specific hashtag and promote the heck out of it.

Tip #6 Invest in your biggest asset

You and your employees are ultimately the biggest asset to your consignment business. Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley, quoted her father as once saying, “In business, you sell yourself first, your business second and the product third.” As I shared in, 6 tips to build your secondhand store’s brand, you are your business. Invest in relationships. Take care of yourself and your employees. It will ultimately show on the sales floor. Even the smallest gesture of kindness will reap great rewards. At Vera Bradley, employees receive a $50 bill in their birthday card each year. As the company has grown, the payroll department asked if they could just put extra money in an employee’s paycheck. Baekgaard refused. She feels that cash is more personal and much more tangible. I would agree.

Tip #7 Be honest about resale

Win over your store's competitionThe only way to take on your store’s holiday competition is to face the #1 reason shoppers don’t buy secondhand. They’re uncomfortable buying items previously used by someone else. As one potential customer put it, “All of this belonged to dead people.” To combat that image, make sure your shop is as clean as it can possibly be. Curate your merchandise and purge the junk. Be diligent about the way your store smells. Make it clear, you only accept items that are in perfect condition. If necessary, tie-in with a local dry cleaner. Let customers know your clothing is cleaned and ready to wear. Often, some consignment and resale shops are their own worst enemies. Remember, it isn’t just about your store, it’s about the perception of resale overall. Let’s work together and we can win out over your store’s holiday competition.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.