As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, the last thing an ISO might be thinking about is Christmas.
Yet to be successful during the busy holiday shopping season, the ISO needs to be planning now. Retailers conduct about 23 percent of their business during the Christmas shopping season, which traditionally is considered to start the day after Thanksgiving, though many Christmas-related items start appearing immediately following Halloween.
While many of these retailers are adding business to already active stores, there are also small merchants who open in-mall kiosks to meet the seasonal demand.
ISOs who want to market to these retailers should start their efforts now.
Though temporary kiosk owners are most noticeable during the Christmas shopping season, they're in the malls at other times of the year, said Gary Rejebian, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Chicago.
Most mall owners won't allow a kiosk owner to come in only during the Christmas season, Rejebian said. The mall owner will also require the kiosk to be in operation during another targeted shopping season (e.g., Easter, Halloween, Mother's Day, etc.). With kiosk operations rotating throughout the year, occasional mall visits will help the ISO identify these operations and start establishing relationships with the owners. Establishing the relationships is critical to making sales.
Another potential way to contact kiosk owners is through the mall owner's specialty leasing manager, according to Garnet Vaughan, Owner of the Marketing Department, a retailing and shopping center consulting firm based in suburban Indianapolis.
Vaughan also suggested contacting restaurant trade groups and art associations because a large percentage of these kiosk operators are in these two industries.
It's not just the kiosk owners who can use the additional ISO-provided products and services during the holiday shopping season.
Owners and managers of established stores may be interested in short-term leases of wireless POS terminals as "line-busters". The wireless terminals can be used in the aisles or at temporary checkout aisles to help alleviate some of the long lines, particularly during rush periods.
To sell these terminals, Rejebian and Vaughan suggested contacting the large retailer's technology department. The owner-operator of kiosks and established stores small stores tend to make the buying decisions in smaller retail operations.
"A lot of these owners are entrepreneurs who are going to make their own decisions," Rejebian said.
Additionally, many may be accepting only cash or still using older terminals because they're confident that they know the best way to accept payments, Vaughan said. Therefore, the enterprising ISO has an opportunity to educate these merchants about the advantages of newer terminals.
Though Christmas is the most widely recognized shopping season, it's not the only seasonal event that provides business opportunities for the enterprising ISO.
Halloween has grown into an increasingly important time for specialty retailers. State and municipal fairs, trade shows, etc., also provide seasonal business opportunities. To get a foot in the door with merchants who sell in these venues, Rejebian recommended contacting local and state chambers of commerce.