Holiday Survival Guide: No-Fail Sales Strategies

It’s hard to think about the holidays when you’re still wearing shorts and sandals. but trust us: It’s time. prep your staff and store with our no-fail year-end sales tips.


find seasonal salespeopleAsk the Right Questions…and Find the Best Seasonal Salespeople

Recruiting holiday help is different from hiring staff members during the year. You often have less opportunity to train seasonal employees, and they’ll be with you for a shorter period of time. You need to find quick learners with ready skills who are a good cultural fit.

“As you’ll be providing little or less training than you do for full-time employees, understanding preferences and skills is even more critical,” says Carisa Miklusak, cofounder and CEO of the Cincinnati-based hiring platform Tilr.

To find the best candidates, here are five questions to ask:

1. “Do you have sales experience?”
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s absolutely essential during the holidays. Employees need to be able to handle the rush while providing the best customer experience possible. For employees who will be checking out customers, also ask if they’re familiar with point-of-sale software, which can speed up the training process, Miklusak says.

2. “Why do you want to work here?”
“If the candidate doesn’t express passion for the business or the jewelry industry, it should be a deal breaker,” says Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy and retail innovation for EY (Ernst & Young). Ultimately you want to hire workers who are also familiar with your brand, adds Miklusak.

3. “Describe a time in your career when you had to learn a new skill quickly.”
The ability to adapt is one of the most important traits of temporary workers, says Janelle Bieler, vice president of sales at the staffing firm Adecco. “This includes picking up on the specifics of their project, learning the company’s processes and protocols, and meshing well with the company culture.”

4. “How would you handle an angry customer?”
The holiday season is hectic for everyone, and chances are your employees will encounter someone who isn’t happy. Ask candidates to describe a past experience with an angry customer, and make sure their approach matches your store’s customer service policies, Miklusak says.

5. “Would you consider a permanent position at a later date?”
With a limited amount of available talent on the market, a lot of companies look at their pool of seasonal employees as a pipeline for future positions, Bieler says. “Companies are able to test candidates out for a few weeks and, if the candidate fits seamlessly into the company culture and shows long-term potential, offer them a full- or part-time position.”


use technology for hiringTap Into Technology for Faster Holiday Hiring

Hiring seasonal help is one more thing for your never-ending holiday to-do list. You want to draw from a large talent pool and find the right person, but that can take time. Here are seven tools and websites that will help you recruit, interview, and hire people more quickly.

• Indeed
Undoubtedly the No. 1 job site on the internet. Post your position in its “seasonal jobs” category to draw from a large candidate pool. (

• JobSnap
Looking for a way to target the next generation (and the generation after that)? On the Jobsnap app, employers post three questions, and applicants send their responses by video. You can choose to pass or move forward with the candidate. (

• Email
It may not be cutting-edge, but your own customer base is one of the best sources for holiday help. Send an email as part of your usual email marketing efforts, promoting your seasonal opportunities (and your employee discount!).

• Canvas
Do interviews via text—millennials’ preferred method of communication. Text in real time or use the app’s bot, which guides candidates through a series of questions. You’ll save time in avoiding missed phone calls, a pitfall of telephone screening. (

• Live Video Interviews
On this platform, interview via live online video instead of time-­consuming in-person meetings. You can even hold virtual job fairs, and talk to several ­candidates during a preset block of time. (

• Spark Hire
Spark Hire is another video interview platform. In addition to its live feature, you can have candidates record ­answers to your questions that you review at a later time. (

• Tilr
This app actually does the hiring for you, prescreening on-demand employees via an algorithm that matches their skills to your job requirements. You get to skip the recruiting and interviewing process altogether. (


open a pop up shopTrade Your Trunk Show for a Pop-Up Shop

The pop-up shop is designed to be an immersive shopping experience. Because it’s here today and gone tomorrow, the temporary retail event encourages store owners to get creative with displays and offerings. Pop-up shops also offer several benefits for jewelers, says Arielle Crane, communications manager for Storefront, an online marketplace for temporary retail space.

“Pop-up stores are a great way for ­jewelry brands to gain more exposure, showcase their designs in a new, creative way, and—for ­jewelry brands that are solely e-commerce—to exist in a physical space that allows customers both new and old to interact with the designs in a new, engaging way,” she says. “We see a lot of success with jewelry stores who decide to pop up and build buzz.”

If you want to try the concept, first set your budget and schedule, recommends Crane. “Envision the type of space you want,” she says. “Knowing your space requirements, including amenities, will help you narrow down your search and save you time.”

Because pop-ups are a hot trend, Crane says it can be easy to find stores and opportunities. A quick internet search will likely result in several options.

Just make sure the location fits your end goals. If you want to attract a lot of customers, try popping up in a high–foot traffic area or piggybacking off existing traffic at popular store centers, suggests Crane. If you’re after a unique experience for your customers, take into consideration which neighborhood will help reflect that, she says.

Give a lot of thought to your design. Part of the charm of a pop-up is that it’s temporary, and that allows you to get creative. The more out-of-the-box your ideas are, the bigger buzz you’ll create.

Approach your first pop-up as a learning experience, keeping notes on what worked and what didn’t so you’ll be prepared for the next time, Crane says. “The best part is that you can host multiple pop-up stores in the future, so you can continue to adapt and grow your pop-up and brand strategy.”


get year round customersTurn Year-End Shoppers Into Year-Round Customers

The holiday season sends a greater than usual number of people through your door and to your website. And wouldn’t it be great if those people stopped by more often?

While the season can be stressful and hectic, the holidays provide retailers with an opportunity to start new relationships and demonstrate outstanding customer service.

More business is lost due to poor service and poor treatment than poor ­product, says Nancy Friedman, founder and president of Telephone Doctor customer service training in St. Louis. “Providing excellent ­customer service will increase the chances that the shopper will not only continue to give your store return business, but [also] recommend you to family and friends.”

Here are five ways to turn seasonal shoppers into repeat customers.

1. Follow up after a purchase.
Don’t overlook the power of saying “thank you.” Send a personalized note to let your customers know you appreciate their business. You can also call them after the holidays to see if they’re enjoying their purchases.

2. Promote your email list.
Give a discount or free gift to customers who sign up for your email list during their transaction. This provides you with permission to contact them throughout the year with news or offers. Keep them engaged by sending emails that do more than just promote your business; share valuable content that’s educational and entertaining.

3. Create a loyalty program.
Offer a discount or free gift after customers spend a certain amount of money in your store. Their holiday purchases will put them on track to earning rewards, and they might take advantage of the savings for their next jewelry purchase.

4. Invite customers to visit your social media pages.
Add your social media pages to your receipts or packaging, and ask customers to visit you there. Make sure your pages are filled with colorful content and encourage customers to share their own photos. Be sure to tout promotions or sales and offer a discount to followers.

5. Offer cleaning or battery replacements.
Invite customers to bring their jewelry and watches back to you for cleaning or battery replacement. You can provide the service for free to those who sign up for your email list or loyalty program, or to people who follow you on social media.


cyber monday checklistMake a Cyber Monday List (and Check It Twice)

Is your website ready for Nov. 26, 2018? Better known as Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving is also the internet’s biggest shopping day, and you need to be ready, says Matthew Rhodus, director and industry principal for retail at the business software provider Oracle NetSuite.

“The most important thing is to not wait—start now,” Rhodus says. “There is no substitute for preparation. So much is riding on these few days of the year that it’s key to make sure you are ­prepping for this months ahead of time.”

Here’s a checklist of tasks to get you on track for big post–Turkey Day sales:

1. Identify your target market.
Determine which customer segment you want to target, and construct your marketing campaign around that, Rhodus says. “Bring in elements of past purchase history into that planning,” he adds. “Not everyone will jump at Cyber Monday, and it might not be worth spending effort trying to convert them.”

2. Plan your holiday sales.
Plan and organize the sales and promotions you will be holding. Confirm that you have enough inventory to fulfill orders; nothing is worse than a disappointed customer.

3. Prepare your website.
Touch base with your hosting provider to ensure the company makes appropriate adjustments to accommodate an increase in traffic, says Zavida Mangaru, executive vice president of product strategy and innovation at North American Bancard. “If you host the website on your own server, you can test its load capacity with tools like”

4. Test and test again.
“Make sure that page loads, banner content, hero images, item uploads, and other pieces of your site all work as expected,” Rhodus says. “It’s critical to test many times between now and November.” If your site can’t handle the load, you want to know now.

5. Optimize for mobile.
The number of mobile shoppers has increased dramatically, accounting for 63.5 percent of e-commerce sales, according to market research firm eMarketer. Optimizing your online store for a fluid mobile interaction is critical in today’s high-speed retail environments, Mangaru says.

6. Expand your payment options.
Payment methods for consumers are more abundant and diverse than ever. “The usage of mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Masterpass, Alipay, and more is becoming more frequent,” Mangaru says. “Make sure you are familiar [with] and prepared to accept the evolving payment forms that your target demographic prefers.”

7. Prevent fraud.
The pace of sales on Cyber Monday provides criminals with opportunities to slip through the cracks. But don’t make the mistake of ignoring the customer experience, says Michael Reitblat, cofounder and CEO of Forter, which provides fraud-prevention solutions to the jewelry industry. Consider fraud-prevention software that can identify problems in real time, via means such as behavioral analysis and machine learning. “A technology-driven and scalable solution will ensure that fraudsters are stopped in their tracks and legitimate shoppers receive their goods,” Reitblat says, “even on the busiest shopping day of the year.”

(Illustrations by Leandro Alzate)

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