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Christmas time: You can't satisfy every single customer

15-Oct-2019

Oliver Mathys – Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

Oliver Mathys – Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

Especially during the pre-Christmas season a good POS design and appealing online marketing is very important. We discussed the topic with Oliver Mathys.

The Christmas business is the highest turnover business of the year, for both the bricks and mortar trade and E-Commerce. The retail trade makes around 25 percent of its overall annual turnover during the Advent period. As a marketing and sales consultant, Mathys develops sales concepts and supports companies with the implementation thereof.

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

Mr Mathys, POS design during the pre-Christmas period surely places the traders in rather a predicament, doesn't it? On the one hand, the customers have a clear vision of their festive celebrations and traditional images in their heads, but on the other hand they also always expect something new. How can one do justice to these different expectations?

Mathys: That is right, depending on the customers and the target group, the expectations vary greatly: The personal environment, but also the general economic situation play a role here. In rather turbulent times, for instance, people search for a certain sense of security. Then, the focus shifts for instance towards classic Christmas colours such as red and green or natural and brown shades. Principally however the colour preferences vary between the different countries of Europe as well: In Scandinavia the customers frequently opts for light, natural shades that often have a cooler impact, whereas in the South warmer shades tend to dominate.

I think for the POS design in the pre-festive season it is decisive for every company to determine who its main target group is. The procurement and the resulting 'mise en scène' on the appropriate sales area has to be arranged accordingly. I can only say from experience here: Less is frequently more! I often experience that stores want to try and please every customer. However, this only works in practice in a very few cases. It is more important to clearly communicate to the outside, what the customers can expect. Then the shopping experience won't lead to any disappointments.

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

Are there any POS themes for this year's Christmas decorations that garden centres or DIY stores definitely should include in their programmes?

Mathys: As far as the colours are concerned - as in the past years the following is frequently true: Almost anything goes... However, one is noticing that a rather darker, more secretive colour trend is going down well presently, for instance dark anthracite and blue shades combined with silver reflections. The theme light is naturally always important at Christmas: Whether using a wide range of LED lamps or all sorts of light bulbs - people look for the fitting solutions to create a homely, cosy atmosphere at home during the dark, winter months. Interesting to know: The theme responsibility for nature and sustainability is also playing a role when choosing the Christmas decorations. This is being demonstrated by the use of many natural materials such as wood. Moreover, people don't seem to be changing their whole Christmas decorations every year anymore, but are instead using many of the decorations from the previous years. The vintage style is also still popular: Old seasonal decorations passed on from the family or purchased at flea markets are implemented and combined with many home-made elements. For me the most important and most interesting trend is the fun in making things oneself, because it literally cries out for workshops to be offered to the customers. Whether crafting stars made of straw, kneading characters out of dough or making Advent wreathes - the POS becomes an experiential world for the customers, where they can try things out and experience successes. If it is spatially possible, food and drink can of course also be offered.

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

Almost all garden centres and DIY stores have a webpage, many indeed have an online shop. How important is it to convey a Christmassy atmosphere on the web and design one's own homepage accordingly?

Mathys: It is optimal if the web pages correspond with the design of the retail outlet. One can already make the initial references to the Christmas period online in September, for instance via the colours and seasonal themes. Two to three of the shop's window displays can already be designed correspondingly. In this way, the customer knows in good time what to expect in the near future. On the larger sales area however, one should first concentrate on making a good turnover with the autumn themes and products.

The websites have a huge advantage compared to the sales areas, because here the themes can be exchanged relatively fast. Of course, one needs the corresponding preparation for the web pages - the photos and the presentations have to be set up... But if everything is prepared well, one can practically switch over from autumn to Christmas overnight. This is of course much more difficult on the actual sales area. Redesigning between 800 and 1,000 square metres can take a few weeks. Particularly here in the Netherlands, such a process can take up to two months. During this time, the store often looks more like a building site, where the customer doesn't particularly feel welcome.

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

The pre-Christmas period at the POS - Photo: oliver-m-consulting.com

A further last tip that one should definitely take into consideration when designing a website: The people do the business! This is why DIY stores and garden centres should always make sure their own employees are visible on the website and not work with anonymous photo models or purchased photos. For example own selfies together with Christmas trees or a Santa's hat can be wonderfully integrated at Christmas time. This is a simple way of making a connection between the online presence and the local shop.

Find further information here: oliver-m-consulting.com

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Author: Roland Moers

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