A Few More Days to Make a Difference!
With only four killer sales days before Christmas, and a busy week after, the opportunity to impact sales and profits is shrinking.
We have published tons of tactics, ideas and other content over the past several months that hopefully have added a bit of value to your business. While the final several days of the selling season are typically the most exciting simply based on sales, my guess is you are tired and looking forward to January. Given that, I am going to keep this issue on the lighter side (other than the news, which is what it is). You know what to do to squeeze every sales dollar out of these next four days and the busy week after Christmas. You just gotta go out and do it!
While we will certain publish an issue next week, we will jump back into the heavy stuff in the January 4th issue.
In the meantime, a few things:
This issue will be free to all given the nature of the content. Our paywall will return for the January 4th issue.
If you are a free subscriber, please consider upgrading to a premium subscription. While there are several added-value features for premium subscribers, the real win is the access to 52 weeks of actionable content and ideas based on years of real world retail experience. As one of my social post states: “Is one great idea worth $100 per year? How about several great ideas?!”
If you are still shopping for retail friends and colleagues, consider gifting them a subscription to All Things Retail, for all the reasons stated above.
Best of luck these final few days! Sell your A___ off!!!
“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over!”
For anyone that may be discouraged, or think that they cannot still make a difference in the results of the season, take a peek at these stats. There is still time to make a difference!
According to Fortunly, 62% of US shoppers buy gifts in the week before Christmas. That’s a lot! Here is another view from NRF:
And how about the week after Christmas? It’s another powerful week:
Any way you look at the numbers, it’s clear that “it ain’t over until it’s over”. Keep up the good fight!
The Hess Toy Truck Story:
The Hess Truck is an iconic offering at Christmas every year. One might argue that it lost a bit of it’s lustre when it went 100% online, but the story remains a great one. What other business sells one item a year and gains the notoriety and generates the sales that Hess has? Here’s a quick history from the Hess website:
THE FIRST HESS TOY TRUCK
The vision for a Hess Toy Truck became a reality with the 1964 Hess Tanker Trailer. A replica of the company's first B61 Mack truck and trailer, the toy's features were rare for its time: working headlights and taillights controlled by a switch at the back of the cab, and a cargo tank that could be filled and emptied with an accompanying funnel and rubber hose. There were no TV ads or major radio campaigns for the Hess Tanker Trailer -- just a few small newspaper ads for a well-made toy, battery included, sold at Hess gas stations. The now iconic holiday tradition fun had just begun.
HOW IT'S MADE
It takes a very long time to become a Hess Toy Truck. The highly secretive process of developing the annual toy generally starts between two and three years before it actually goes on sale. And for some of the more complicated toys, it's been as long as six years from concept to market.
Inspiration images are initially reviewed to hone in on the broad themes that might be considered. Then sketch drawings and feature concepts are reviewed. This is the point in the process where the toys really begin to evolve. Many truck ideas are developed but ultimately the top two or three designs go to the next round, where they are transformed from drawings to 3D rotating images that can be evaluated for functionality and playability. The next step is the handcrafting of models that are used for final design and decoration decisions. Eventually, one new holiday Hess Toy Truck is chosen.
Early models of the Hess Toy Truck were comprised of roughly 75 small hard-plastic pieces. More recent toys normally have between 200-300 parts. A tooling, or mold, for each individual piece must be cut to precise measurements. Once all the toolings are made and tested, the pieces are produced and meticulously assembled. The toys undergo rigorous quality testing to make sure they are up to the highest standards. Then, as anyone who has unpacked a Hess Toy Truck knows, the final toy is placed - very carefully - in its box.
HOW IT'S MARKETED
Until 1980 there were no TV ads, radio spots, or billboards for the Hess Toy Trucks—just newspaper ads and signs at the Hess gas stations for a well-made toy, battery included, sold for a great value.
Starting in 1980, Hess began releasing new TV commercials every year. Their variety and ingenuity made every spot a surprise. Marketing jingle history was changed forever in 1988 when Hess adapted a song by the ’60s group The Angels, “My Boyfriend’s Back.” The Hess jingle was: “The Hess Truck’s back and it’s better than ever!” That line got to the heart of the matter, the excitement around the arrival of a new great toy. Every year since, the jingle has been rearranged for the newest toy and commercial release.
In use for over the past 30 years, the Hess Truck’s Back jingle has become one of the longest running in TV advertising history! For many fans, the first airing of the TV commercial each year has become synonymous with the start of the Holiday season. And for many actors, the Hess Toy Truck commercial has been a boost to their resumes; with well-known actors such as John Goodman and Hayden Panettiere appearing in the commercials early in their careers.
WHERE IT BEGAN
A builder, visionary, entrepreneur, patriot and leader. Above all, a great father and family man. The remarkable qualities that made Leon Hess so special are at the heart of the Hess Toy Truck. Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1914, company founder Leon Hess grew up during the Great Depression. In 1933, after finishing high school and unable to afford college, a then 19-year old Leon Hess bought a second hand 615-gallon oil delivery truck and started a business delivering fuel oil to homes in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
By 1937, recognizing that large power companies were switching from coal to oil, Leon Hess purchased five additional trucks and expanded his business to include post-refinery residual fuel oil. Just a year later purchasing facilities to unload barges and tankers. By the mid-1940s, Leon Hess expanded the company greatly, applying lessons he learned during his U.S. Army experience during World War II as a petroleum supply officer, and his knowledge of the industry.
In 1964, just four years after opening the first Hess branded gas station Leon Hess decided to offer families a fun, high quality and affordable toy for the holidays as a goodwill gesture to customers. With that decision, he created a toy for kids of all ages, the Hess Toy Truck, that has become a hallmark of the holiday season. Leon Hess wanted a toy truck made with outstanding craftsmanship and innovative use of electronics, and he wanted to offer it at a price families could afford with batteries included— a concept that endures to this day.
By the time he retired in 1995 after six decades of leadership, Leon Hess had grown Hess Corporation into one of the world’s largest energy companies and the Toy Truck had become one of the most popular and enduring toys in American history.
A Few “Feel Good” Stories:
The holidays should be a time of positivity, yet we are often so busy we forget that. So, I wanted to include a couple more “feel good” retail stories to help us all remember that while we love sales revenue and dislike supply chain delays, shoplifting and the like, there is more to what we do than those things alone. Here we go:
Target Team Member Gives Career Advice
“When a teenager preparing for his first job interview walked into Target for a tie, he probably never thought he would be part of a viral customer service story.
A shopper named Audrey was walking through the store, when she saw an older Target employee helping a young man learn to tie a tie.
The young man had come in for a clip-on tie, which Target does not sell, so a Target employee called over her fellow employee, Dennis Roberts, who showed the teen how to tie the tie.
Audrey witnessed this exchange and then saw Dennis showing the teen how to field interview questions and how to shake hands.
She was blown away by the incredible act of service, and posted the encounter to Facebook with this comment:
In Target at Triangle Town Center. A kid came in looking for a clip-on tie for a job interview this afternoon. The store only had regular ties, so this awesome Target team member took the time to help the nervous teen put on his new tie, tuck in his shirt and then showed him how to give a proper handshake and tackle a few tough interview questions! As the kid exited the store, a bunch of supportive Target team members cheered him on! THIS is true customer service - Right on the mark, Target!!
The post subsequently got thousands of likes and was picked up by the media, causing it to go viral.
There were no complicated customer service techniques at work here, just a desire to help a customer in need and to put forth that extra effort to make a customer's life better.
Walmart Customer Gets Kind Help From a Personal Shopper
Upon hearing a blind customer needed help navigating the store and filling his cart, Walmart employee Brittany Walton felt the need to assist. So she asked a fellow employee to take her position behind the customer service counter, and she spent two hours guiding the customer (lovingly nicknamed “Mr. Roy”) through the aisles.
The sight of the pair holding hands and chatting like old friends moved another customer to post a photo on Facebook, which soon went viral and was picked up by several major news outlets. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was so impressed by what he saw, he publicly praised Brittany for “excellence in customer service.”
Trader Joe’s Delivers (literally)
An elderly man, 89 years of age, was snowed in at his Pennsylvanian home around the holidays, and his daughter was worried that he wasn’t going to have access to enough food due to the impending storm and bad weather in the area.
After calling multiple stores in a desperate attempt to find anyone who would deliver to her father’s home, she finally got ahold of someone at Trader Joe’s who told her that they also do not deliver … normally.
Given the extreme circumstance, they told her that they would gladly deliver directly to his home and even suggested additional delivery items that would fit perfectly with his special low-sodium diet.
After the daughter placed the order for the food, the employee on the phone told her that she didn’t need to worry about the price; the food would be delivered free of charge. The employee then wished her a Merry Christmas.
Less than 30 minutes later the food was at the man’s doorstep — for free!
In refusing to let red tape get in the way of a customer in need, Trader Joe’s shows that customer service doesn’t need to be about the fanfare; it can simply be about doing the right thing.
Retail News You Can Use:
Here are some ads from the past that you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) see today:
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Quotes of the Week:
"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow." – Irving Berlin, "White Christmas"
"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don't clean it up too quickly." – Andy Rooney
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." – Will Ferrell, Elf
"And so I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to 92. Although it's been said many times, many ways, merry Christmas to you." – Robert Wells, "The Christmas Song"