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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Website: pulsemarketingagency.com

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Simplifying the customer decision-making process during the holiday season

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It's hard to believe that Halloween is right around the corner. My house is already decorated, my kid has already picked her costume, and we have a ton of candy to give away. And after that, in the blink of an eye, the holiday season will be in full swing. That means a whirlwind of activity, demands and busy schedules for businesses as well as consumers. Here are a few tips to simplify your customers' shopping experience this year (and convert more sales):

1) If you are thinking about offering coupons, now is the time to mail them out and drive early shoppers to your business. Many people like to avoid the crowds and would rather have their holiday shopping done prior to Thanksgiving.

2) Make sure your online store is straightforward and accessible so buyers won't dwell on the purchase. If your online process is cumbersome, it may drive potential buyers away. Now is the time to make any last minute adjustments, prior to the holiday rush.

3) Most people (especially men) loathe the holiday shopping experience. Make it easier for them by providing outstanding customer service, both in-person and online. Be sure that your online store has a visible 'chat' option to guide your online clientele. If your site doesn't have that functionality (there is still time to add it), be sure that someone is available to answer the phone and be certain that your phone number is visible on every page. If you don't have an online store, make sure you are staffed with well-trained and pleasant floor associates. Excellent first-time experiences during the hectic holiday season may lead to many new loyal customers.

4) Effective product placement and signage is crucial. Time is extremely valuable to everyone nowadays, and the holiday shopping experience only adds to the chaos. Try to expedite the whole process as much as possible. Make sure your business has an effective in-and-out process for your shoppers - don't make customers work hard to find what they are looking for.

5) Add something special to differentiate your business from your competition. It can be as simple as an offer of free shipping or my favorite free gift-wrapping. Many shoppers try to get as many of their gifts as possible from a single store, so make the experience appealing and worthwhile. Keep in mind that women make the majority of the holiday purchases, and often have their children with them. My family goes to the same Christmas tree farm every year because my kid gets to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie with Santa. We never really compared the cost of this farm's trees with that of their competitors down the road; we go there because of the cozy holiday experience they offer.

The bottom line: The best way to engage customers is to make their lives easier. Minor adjustments to your sales process will help you provide your customers with a pleasant experience during the most hectic time in the year.

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at www.pulsemarketingagency.com.

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