Start Preparing Now for 2020 Holiday Sales

Want to see more revenue? Use these tested tips and innovative ways to make more holiday sales and clear out inventory.

Start Preparing Now for 2020 Holiday Sales

While many dealers in the firearms industry start thinking about holiday sales plans in early November, most successful large retailers actually start planning their holiday Q4 sales strategy in January.

They typically also have weekly notes on what worked and what didn’t from Halloween, Black Friday and New Year’s Eve. Don’t worry, Tactical Retailer is here to help get that old inventory moving. 

2019 More Important Than Ever

At one time, Black Friday was the single biggest sales day of the year for retailers. Then, just a few years ago, Black Friday and Cyber Monday began dueling as the highest sales days of the year with the latter now exceeding Black Friday sales. Even though sales were at a record high in 2018, the industry started seeing the holiday sales hump spread out from a weekend to a span from October through Christmas Eve due to aggressive daily and weekly sales strategies for the last 60 days of the year. 

Along with weeding out old inventory, the other sales and promotion strategy is to get customers accustomed to coming to you first and building customer loyalty. Surviving a tough recession is much easier with a large loyal customer base that you have cultivated during Q4.

The retail sales dynamic is quickly changing to a daily promotion strategy from Halloween until the new year and has moved away from the all-or-nothing Black Friday and Cyber Monday blitz. Every large retailer is attempting to push earlier and earlier to close the customer holiday sales first.

You are not going to get the sale in late November if someone has already sold the customer in late October. Unless your store is one of the few large format retailers that have a line in front of your building the morning of Black Friday, your business likely is not offering 30 pages of doorbusters. But you still should offer eight to 60 doorbusters. 

54 Days - 60 Doorbusters

The most successful online and brick-and-mortar retailers of 2018 were pushing different daily, limited-quantity doorbusters in the 54 days from Halloween through Christmas Eve.

One of the most effective strategies for the smaller retailer is to identify 60 items they can live with selling a limited quantity at insane doorbuster prices. The first doorbuster should start on Halloween with one a day until Christmas Eve and offer three extra doorbusters on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

The key to success is limited quantities at the deep discount with great sales deals on the same item after the initial quantity is sold out. Your store will get the traffic from the doorbuster and then you actually make some money on the same item after the initial limited quantity is sold out. After limited quantities are sold out, the same model variant is usually offered at a good discount so that late customers feel like they didn’t make the trip for nothing. These sales events will drive single SKU volumes of the similar non-doorbuster models as well. This has the advantage of increasing your discount buying structure.

For a large retailer, doorbuster limited quantities may only be 10 or 20, so for a small business it may only be two to five. Generally a retailer should have equal amounts of doorbuster inventory allocated to both online and in-store, however some retailers only make select items available in-store.

The key is not to just open all the inventory and blow out an unlimited number of Bushnell TRS-25s for $30 all day, losing money on every sale. The goal is to sell three at $30 and 50 more at $50 that you purchased on a bulk deal and are still making good margin on. Always be aware that doorbusters are an advertising and marketing tool to get people in the door and should never be viewed as an unlimited price sales category.

For small- to mid-sized retailers, the goal is to get customers coming to your site or store every day during the holidays to check the site’s doorbuster page or prominent shelf in the back of the store. Statistically, customers rarely walk out of a physical store empty handed and online customer traffic will net more sales. Planning to ensure product availability, the best pricing, integration and the blowout of aged products can take several months to plan out successfully. 

If your business cannot commit to a higher-margin 60 doorbuster plan, then consider one doorbuster per week during the same eight weeks. Think of this as the “stack the inventory high and make it priced to fly” strategy. Generally a limited-selection eight week doorbuster strategy works well with bulk stack ammo, optics, AR triggers and firearms deals. Package deals are also a good strategy to consider for this type of doorbuster plan.

Inventory & Stocking Planning

Your Black Friday strategy and Cyber Monday do not have to be negative- or low-margin days. Planning early to set aside dedicated inventory throughout the year when super deals are presented is critical. Some of these deals could include SHOT Show deals, dealer rebates, "get one free" bundles or distributor blowouts. The deals you get will dictate what and how much the doorbusters will be.

Another strategy is working with your manufacturers, distributors and/or reps on what you would like to plan, and they can keep a lookout for special deal opportunities or create a package. Larger retailers will get special low- or no-cost product allocations for that weekend if they commit to prominent advertising features of that brand and product. This industry trade deal is typically referred to as an advertising offset strategy. Many manufacturers or distributors will provide special manufacturer-level cost products if those products are exclusively held for doorbuster promotions and you buy a certain additional amount at regular price. Trust with your manufacturer reps is key in this small, tight knit industry.

Another strategy is blowing out aged inventory, anything over 120 days old. A good strategy for that is to pull those items off the floor or off-line for at least 30 days before the start of the doorbuster sale, and then offer them as the doorbusters at cost “while supplies last.” The gap in visibility of the product will seem to the customer that it is something new and specially priced and not the same set of gun cases you have had on the floor since January. Many retailers have started to self bundle older accessories with firearms for a value-added bundle that no other retailer can match price on. Clearance and/or Doorbuster deal bins are good for small numbers of random inventory items.

For diverse consolidated brand manufacturers with MAP guidelines, ask for an exclusive MAP holiday for one of those planned 54 doorbuster days or ask for an exclusive bundle deal such as a case, bipod, firearm and optic combo. With the current glut of firearms on the market, manufacturers are looking for creative ways to move product.

Marketing Planning

Just like inventory planning, working out advertising and doorbuster release scheduling in advance and assuring your technology can handle the sales is critical to keeping customers coming back every day. This is usually one of the biggest failure points for retailers, where good intentions are not backed up with technology testing and a marketing calendar.

An example of poor planning is that during 2018 one of my favorite bag manufacturers ran the same “doorbuster” deal every day in an email campaign from Halloween until New Year’s Eve. This is an insane time for customers’ email boxes, so be kind and, if you don’t have anything new to promote, stay silent. 

One of the highest unsubscribe periods of the year are the weeks after Cyber Monday, mainly due to email fatigue — i.e. annoying the customer to death. October through December emails should be fast and simple since most retailers are sending one per day; make one or two points on each email — maximum. When you do send an email, make it a fast, efficient read with picture, price and short description so the recipient does not have to wade through text or click to get your offer. Doorbuster promotions should still be surrounded by all the other sales and feature products you are offering, and preferably some logical cross sales items.

Staff Training

There is nothing worse to a customer during the holidays than to not be able to get basic information on where and what the deals are in the store. It is especially important as temporarily holiday staff is added that they understand the layout of the store, and where the deals are in the store.

Final Thought

A printed calendar is still one of the best tools to work out your store’s doorbuster and holiday schedule. Once you see the sales start to lay out on the calendar, it gives you and your vendor partners a joint tool to have them help you supplement each event with special deals. In discussions with manufacturers industry wide, all were very open to creative ideas to boost sales for the 2019 season. 


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.