Fashion: Avoiding a post-sales hangover this year

Here we go, then. Fashion’s annual binge, the summer sales. You’re going to sell more, to more people, faster than ever before. LET’S HAVE IT.

Obviously, though, there’ll be discounting. Something we don't usually like doing. And some of your customers will be deal-hunters, who probably won’t come back once the sales are over. But who cares? BRING IT ON.

And then the summer hangover will kick in. When the tumbleweed blows down those new collection aisles and the website stats tail off.

So, how do you avoid that post-sales hangover? You’ve already upped your game compared to the rest of retail. You hold special preview weeks for your best customers to add a sense of occasion (let’s see an electronics retailer try that!); you steadily mark-down throughout the duration of your sale to maximise margins and manage stock; you trickle-release new items into your sales to maintain momentum and ensure repeat purchase. You do sales better than anyone. But at the end of it all? Your head still throbs and your heart still sinks.

There is one way, though. It’s all about extracting more value from your customers, taking something back


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80% of January sales are over by January

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We thought it would be fun to show you how the January sales looked 30 years ago (see video below), when the lure of great discounts could bring the masses to your store.

But for January 2015, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and even Panic Saturday promotions fresh in shoppers' minds, you're going to need more than just great prices to ensure your January sales don't fizzle out before January even starts.

So, here are our tips on how to use Social Selling to make your New Year sales a lasting success.

First, a look at how we used to do January sales in 1984:

Here are our top five Social Selling tips for January 2015:

1. Involve your social audience early. As we approach the tail end of December use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to ask your audience what they want to see in your sales. Make them feel like they’re curating the campaign.

2. Sometimes less is more. It’s tempting to launch all your offers on day one, but hold some back. Treat them as mini-marketing campaigns and launch them regularly throughout the entire campaign.

3. Make some of your offers exclusive to your social audience


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by Peter

Singing for their supper: why casual dining needs to change

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In my wallet, I have two 30% off coupons for Pizza Express. Alongside them, I’ve got some random membership card that entitles me to 40% off at Pizza Express. Oh, and… hang on, yep, here it is: another Pizza Express saver - this time a £10 voucher earned with supermarket loyalty points. That’ll keep the toddler in “Pat A Pony” pizzas for the next few weekends (he seriously needs to learn how to pronounce the word “pepperoni”).

Thing is, I didn’t have to do anything to get these coupons. I didn’t scrub dishes in their kitchens, or win some kind of competition. I didn’t even have to like pizza (I’m ambivalent). Pizza Express just gave them to me because that’s what casual dining chains do these days. They discount. Relentlessly. Aggressively. Dementedly. To the point where it’s no longer about attracting new business or inculcating loyalty, it’s simply a matter or keeping up with the Jones. Or, to be more precise, the Garfunkels, the Carluccios and the, um, Nandoses.

The rest of retail already went through this and - thank god - is finally starting to come out the other end.


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Five ways gamification can ignite your retail sales

Five ways gamification can transform retail

I have no idea how fruit machines work. Sure, I get the 'line up three bunches of cherries to win' classic, but the all-singing-all-blinking monstrosity that mocked me in the pub yesterday? Absolutely clueless. And yet, somehow, its combination of twinkly lights, bashy buttons and blippy noises had me chucking coins into it like owning money was going out of fashion.

That's because, as a species, we're far more likely to engage with something if there's an element of gaming involved. I'm sure there's an evolutionary imperative behind all this: if you took a chance on the lady monkey with the weirdy, opposable thumbs, there was a better chance your offspring would survive the great banana famine of 7,000,000 years BC. That kind of thing. Don't ask me, ask Richard Dawkins.

Anyway, we love gaming (and its sidekick, competition), and the introduction of these elements - conceptually known as 'gamification' - into any environment works wonders. The LinkedIn profile completeness bar is a famous example, and rightly so: users fill in more and more info to achieve a 100% complete 'score' and, in so doing, provide mountains more data back to LI, its users and, of course, its


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Big Deal! Why Deals Don't Work.

Why deals don't work

It's a bit legendary is Le Renais de Venise - a restaurant where there's only one thing on the menu. Steak. No choice of cut, no choice of sides. You're getting an entrecôte with their secret sauce, fries and a green salad with walnuts, or you're going somewhere else for your dinner.

Offering absolutely no choice is a bit brilliant for a restaurant. It shows passion, expertise and a certain cheeky charm. But it's a rotten way to run promotions if you're in retail.

And yet, that's exactly what most retailers still do - they push one or two prescribed deals at prospective customers and refuse to let them have any say. 'The Big Deal!', 'Catch Of The Day!", 'Special Offer!'... these isolated promotions might seem generous but, actually, all they do is narrow down customer choice, hamstring the shopping experience and destroy the price perception for the discounted product.

Once upon a time, there was a certain silly glamour in daily deals. Pre its Amazon acquisition, woot.com was a hoot (dotcom) - it was the Le Renais of online retail. But these days, it's just another conduit for remnant stock. Similarly, once upon a time, there was something cool about the hyper-local daily deals offered up by the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial - but we've all seen how those panned out for participating brands. In fact, if this story in Adweek is anything to go by, these are extremely bleak times for the doyens of Daily Deals.

So, if prescribed deals don't work, what is the answer? Less push, much more pull. Simple. Give your customers the opportunity to tell you what they want to see offered up in a deal - and, once a large enough number request the same thing, release that deal into the wild and watch it kill. From a purely practical point of view, a customer-curated deal comes with a de facto pool of red hot prospects


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