What to do with your unwanted Christmas presents

Holiday Shopping, Tips

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giftsEvery year the same thing happens at Christmas time. People receive gifts that they don’t actually want and the cycle of people finding something to do with them continues. Often the gifts are given with the best intentions but fail to hit the mark. This means that people are then left with the decision on what to do with the gifts. No matter what they decide, it’s always one of those really tricky things that you don’t quite know how to approach. On the one hand, you want to appear grateful for the present, but on the other, the person got you a Christmas gift that you don’t really want.

Firstly, so you don’t hurt their feelings, just act as if you like it and thank them for it. If it’s something they’d expect you to wear or have on display then the best thing to do is display it when they come around or where it once or twice when you’re with them. That way they will think you like the gift, even if you quietly can’t stand it.

If of course, you just want to get rid of the gift and they won’t know, then there are some things you can do with the unwanted present.

Regift your unwanted present.

If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate situation where you have a gift that you don’t like, then you can always regift it. There are a few things to consider when doing so though. Firstly, you need to make sure that there is no chance that the fact you’ve regifted it will get back to the original giver. If it did then they could be extremely offended and it could get back to them. Regift it to someone outside of that group who doesn’t know the person who originally bought it. Make sure that when you regift it, it’s in good condition and nothing has changed. If you can, you may even want to reuse the wrapping paper, but if you do this, then it’s best to ensure that it looks brand new. If there are any marks, then tape some ribbon or a card and that will conceal the fact that it’s a regifted present.

When you regift it though, be careful to only give it to someone who is likely to enjoy it. There’d be nothing worse than the same present being regifted a second time.

Sell the gift.

If you don’t want a present and you can’t think of anyone to give it to, then why not sell it? Make some money from it. Selling it will allow you to make some money. If you are selling, then just like regifting, be careful to ensure that the person who gave it to you won’t find out. If you’re selling it on an online auction website, then the best thing to do would be to use a fake account that isn’t linked to you to sell it. That will ensure that they don’t find out and you’ll be able to get rid of the gift quite easily.

This is trickier if the item is rare and a one-off. If that’s the case, then rather than selling your unwanted Christmas gift, hold onto it and then when it goes up in value you’ll be able to reap the benefits. Potentially by this stage, the person who gave you the present will have completely forgotten so you won’t need to worry about it.

Donate it to charity

The option, if you’re concerned about your conscience is to donate the present to charity. Think of it this way, there are some people in the world who don’t get presents. Some people would be grateful for anything. Just the very idea of getting a present would please them. Why not take the gift you don’t want and give it to a charity or put it under a shopping centre Christmas Tree next year so that someone else can get enjoyment out of it.

The other thing about giving an unwanted Christmas present to charity is that if the person you originally gave the present to does find out, they’re less likely to be annoyed about it because the gift is now going to someone who will truly enjoy it.

Modify it

This one may not be as obvious, but if you don’t like your gift and you don’t want to get rid of it, then why not remake your Christmas gift. Turn it into something that you will enjoy. For example, if you were given a green top but prefer purple, then colour it. If you were given a chest of drawers om a dark colour but your décor is light, then colour it. If it’s a long skirt but you prefer short skirts, take it to a tailor and you’ll be able to get it designed into something that you will enjoy.

These are just some of the options for you if you’ve been given a Christmas present that you don’t like. Let us know if you have some others that we haven’t thought of. The other option is simply to exchange the item if you know what store it came from.

Preparing for Christmas

christmas-preparationEveryone knows that the Christmas period is often one of the busiest periods of the year for businesses and that means you will need to plan in advance so that you deliver the best quality service to your customers.  If however, you’re a customer then it’s really important that you plan your Christmas purchases in advance so that you avoid disappointment at Christmas time.

We mentioned in a previous blog that you need to ensure you have products in stock and that if you don’t, your customers will not be happy. If you advertise a product as being in stock, but it’s not then although it’s reasonable for your customers to wait a few days for the product, if it’s going to be longer than that you need to let your customers know BEFORE they place the order, or at the very worst, right after the order has been placed. Don’t wait until a couple of weeks after they’ve placed the order to let them know you can’t provide it.

It was said in last week’s blog that it would be bad customer service and leave people with the wrong impression of your company. That holds true. Failure to keep your customers informed of product delivery will just annoy them and potentially lead to even the most loyal of your customers walking away.

When a customer walks away once, and goes to another retailer, online or otherwise, that shift away from you once, could potentially stop buying from you all together and that could also cost you, other customers, and no business, online or otherwise wants that so ensure you only sell products you have in stock, and keep your customers informed.

Christmas is a busier time for all types of retailers, including online. That means you are going to have increased needs and require increased staff numbers to ensure you meet your customers’ needs. Although you may not think it’s necessary for an online retail environment because you aren’t dealing with customers face to face, it is still worth hiring extra staff to cope with the increased demand. You do not need to hire them on a permanent full-time basis if you only have a short-term need. You can instead plan for this period by hiring the right number of staff. Even when you’re running an online store it’s important to have enough staff to cater for customer requirements. Those staff will be in the warehouse and they’ll be in your distribution centre because even as an online retailer those requirements are the same as retail outlets.

As a customer, most stores anticipate and plan the Christmas rush. There will be increased demand and pressure on retailers and postal services. Ultimately that means you need to order your products earlier than you normally would so that they will arrive on time for Christmas Day. A good rule of thumb is to order a few weeks before Christmas. That will allow for any shipping delays if the retailer needs to order the goods in, and it will allow for potential delivery to the gift recipient, although, to cut down on transportation time, you could get the item delivered to them directly rather than getting it delivered to you first. That will save you considerable time.

There are always crowds at Christmas time because people leave their shopping until the last minute. They don’t tend to plan in advance so that can also lead to disappointment three days before Christmas when people do all their shopping. It doesn’t have to be that way though. You can buy throughout the year, and that way you will not only get all the products you want, you will also avoid significant disappointment and will not be left wondering what you’re going to get people for Christmas. There’s nothing worse than receiving a gift a few months late, so if there is someone you’re buying make sure you buy in advance, especially if it’s a popular product like an iPhone or something else that is likely to sell out by the time Christmas rolls around.

If, of course, you do leave your Christmas shopping until the last minute then you should set a spending limit and stick to it. If you don’t, it would be very easy to get caught up in the Christmas madness and spend way more than you intended to, or worse yet, buying what you don’t need. That said, if you see an item on sale, why not save it for next year if it’s an item that is likely to remain on trend for a considerable time period.

These tips should help you as a retailer deal with the Christmas rush, and should also help you as a customer so that you don’t need to worry about missing out on the ideal product for your friends or family members.

October means Christmas is Near

october-christmas-shoppingWell it’s now October and if you’re a retailer that means that you’d better start preparing for the Christmas rush. There are only two months and one week to maximise your sales and if you’re an online retailer then not only do you have competition from local businesses, you also have competition from online retailers and websites such as eBay and Amazon. We’ve compiled a list of the top five ways you can prepare for the Christmas season so that you get as many customers through the metaphorical door as you possibly can.

Firstly, it’s really important that your SEO is good. For those unfamiliar, SEO is shorthand for search engine optimisation. That’s how well your website appears on Google. There’s a saying that if you’re not on the first page you might as well not exist and that the second page would be the ideal place to hide a body. The reason is, nobody looks at the second page and beyond. Only the first page matters.

The best way you can ensure you have a high ranking is that you use searchable terms. Nobody is going to search “image 43826388372” but they are likely to search for terms such as “best Christmas gift ideas” so when you’re updating your site, use that term and similar for your alt image text and your keywords.

Its also really important that you have good online content. The reality is that a website with only 20 words is unlikely to be found by Google. You’re best to have at least 300 words per page and include searchable terms but don’t use the terms too much because that can be counterproductive and hurt your ranking.

Next up, you need to make sure you have your Google keywords right. If you don’t you could find yourself wasting money and not getting a lot of return on your investment. That impacts any business’ bottom line but especially small businesses who often run very tight margins. Target your keywords really carefully. By doing so you’re more likely to reach your target market and you reaching your target market you’ll increase your customer base. You don’t want your customers going elsewhere. There’s a lot of money to be made at Christmas time but you need to ensure you market yourself correctly.

It’s essential that when you do your social media marketing in the lead up to the Christmas rush, you target your ads very carefully. Google Analytics can help you out with this. You see, you may think your market is Group A but it could actually be entirely different. Target your advertising on Facebook and other social media sites very carefully. Of course, one other thing to bear in mind is that you should post your ads at the time your audience will be online. It’s no good posting ads when your audience isn’t online. That will just lead to significant wastage and cost you in the long run. That’s the last thing you want. Monitor your competitor and mimic them if you can but ensure you have a point of difference as well.

One point of difference is reliability. How many times have you read in the news that people ordered a product for Christmas yet they didn’t receive it in time or worse yet, they didn’t receive it at all? Make sure that you only advertise products you have in stock or make it clear on your website when people can expect delivery. If you have only 50 iPhone 7s in stock then ensure that your website reflects the true quantity. There’s nothing worse than when a customer buys a product online but can’t get it for a few weeks. It can be really off-putting for them.

These are just a few ways that you can use the Christmas rush to your advantage and increase the number of customers you get through the door. There are of course many others but these tips of SEO, social media marketing and stock levels will get you started on your way to a lucrative Christmas period.

Black Friday: The Shopping Bonanza gone global

blackfridayEvery year the fourth Thursday of November, this day today global consumers prep and psych themselves up to an almost frenzied state of mind as they prepare to unleash their ‘Hungry like a wolf ‘consumer hunger for material goods and go in for the kill at the stroke of midnight. The kill, in this case, is exclusively discounted goods at retail stores across the United States&now also in other parts of the world and most importantly online on the virtual highway of the world wide web where your geophysical coordinates are of no consequence provided the shipper has a tie-up with DHL or the local post to deliver it at your doorstep. These deals will be wolfed down in a frenzied deluge to be savored later, after the packages arrive at the doorstep over the coming days, all the way to Christmas.

According to US Consumer Reports, in 2013 approximately 141 million US consumers shopped during Black Friday spending a total of USD 57.4 billion of which $1.2 billion accounted for online sales.

So what is Black Friday?
The term was coined in Philadelphia, early beginning of the 1960s by the people and the media at the time to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving celebrated across the US. The term began to be used in a broader context and applied outside its origin area around mid – 1970s. For many years, retailers began trading at 6 am but by mid-2000s, it had been gradually creeping up to 5 am and 4 am. The ceiling finally broke in 2011 when several major chain retail outlets swung open their doors at midnight.  In 2012, another major retail chain Walmart took it a step further by announcing they would open trading at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday) where permitted.

The advent and progressive growth of e-retail have transformed business models and service delivery like never before, allowing rural vendors to serve urban customers and corporate bigwigs target urban and rural consumers alike.

The two other places outside of the United States where Black Friday has increased in prominence and trade are Canada and Australia. The former’s rise can be attributed primarily to its geographical proximity to the US and the relative advantage of the strong Canadian dollar and the ease of slipping over the border for a shopping spree. This exodus of consumers to the other side prompted Canadian retailers in Lake Ontario to offer similar discounts with an aim to retain their interest and business and discourage cross-border shopping.

Besides the aforementioned countries, it is also a big event in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland in the European market; Mexico and Brazil in North America and even India with the major retailer like Apple extending their offer to the local market. This easy concept penetration and proliferation have been the result of e-retail convenience and social media dominance across the globe. In a way, it can be compared to the Boxing Day sales that are popular across many of the Commonwealth nations. But for now, prepare to indulge.

Just make sure that the shipper delivers to your address and that should be your only guideline in this one-click shopping experience in today’s tech-savvy world.