The coming holiday shopping season promises to be one of the most challenging ever for retailers—especially small retailers. Facing stiffer competition from e-commerce sites like Amazon, small retailers that can't compete on price will need to ensure a stellar in-store experience in order to succeed. For most, that includes bringing on seasonal employees to handle the holiday rush.


But with unemployment low, retailers face challenges in this arena as well. Target’s announcement earlier this month that it would hire 100,000 seasonal employees—a whopping 40 percent increase from the number it hired last holiday season—serves as an early indicator to small retailers that the time to start hiring is now.


If you hope to lure quality seasonal employees to your store instead of the likes of Amazon and Target, try these tips.




1.  Pay well. Competitive pay is one of the top concerns for hourly workers seeking jobs, according to a study earlier this year. Start by making sure your pay is at least competitive with—and ideally, a little higher than—similar retailers in your area. Most of the jobseekers in the study said $10-$11 an hour is a fair wage. 49530775_s.jpg


2.  Add incentives. In addition to base wages, try offering employees commission and end-of-season bonuses. Incentive-based pay motivates employees and means you don’t have to pay unless they deliver. You can also give employees in-store discounts. This not only makes them happy but also encourages more sales, since they’re likely to shop for their own holiday gifts at your store.


3.  Schedule smart. Getting enough hours is the top issue jobseekers in the study care about: The majority would like to work at least 36 hours a week. Hiring seasonal employees who essentially want to work full-time makes your life easier, too, since you have fewer people to train, schedule and juggle. Speaking of juggling, there are plenty of employee time-tracking and scheduling apps available that make it easy to plan schedules in advance, share them with employees online, make quick changes and keep workers in the loop. If you’re still using a homemade spreadsheet or pen and paper to plan your store schedule, search online for retail scheduling software to save you time and headaches.


4.  Promote your seasonal jobs like crazy. Add detailed information about job openings to your business website, and then promote them everywhere you can think of. In addition to online job listings, try:

  • Announcing your hiring on the homepage of your website
  • Putting signage in your store windows and at checkout
  • Sharing links to your hiring information on your social media accounts and encouraging people to spread the word


5. Hold a job fair. Big companies do it, so why shouldn’t you? Promoting your job fair in local publications and local websites can get more attention than help-wanted ads. If you don't have enough openings to justify a job fair just for your store, consider partnering with other small businesses near yours or the local Chamber of Commerce to hold a community job fair for independent businesses.


6.  Tap into your customer base. Do you have customers who come into your store all the time? Ask if they're interested in seasonal work. After all, they obviously love your products and probably know your stock pretty well. An in-store discount for seasonal workers would likely tempt them, too. You can also promote your seasonal job openings in your email marketing newsletters. Even if customers aren’t interested themselves, they may know others who are.


7.  Be prepared. Once you’ve hired your seasonal employees, get ready for the roller coaster that is the holiday shopping season. Prep for success by developing a plan to bring your seasonal employees up to speed quickly so you can hit the ground running.


RELATED ARTICLE: Recruiting and Retaining Talent in the Evolving Small Business Workplace


About Rieva Lesonsky

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.


Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.



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