The holiday season is almost among us. Is your business prepared? It is important to stay ahead of the competition, so here are a few key tips to help you prepare your business for the big rush.
Get your staff prepared
Training your staff, the right way is probably the most important part of preparing for the holiday season. Remember, your staff is the face of your business. They are the ones making the day-to-day sales and interacting with your customers, so make sure they know exactly what your plans are this upcoming season. Keep them informed, review your policies with them, and answer every question they have. If you can, give them a sales goal where they get a boost in their salary at the end of the season if they meet it— this will keep them motivated. If you’re hiring new staff, be available to them as much as possible so that they don’t get overwhelmed. Role playing some of the most common interactions with you and your customers is a great way to boost their confidence, so they know exactly what to do and say when they are put in that situation.
Create holiday promotions and coupons
You’ve heard it, seen it and maybe already tried it—promotions and coupons on products are one of the best ways to get customers through your doors whether you have a storefront or online business. But when doing this, it is important to remember to do it the right and most effective ways. Don’t just create a promotion or pass out coupons just for the sake of doing it. Make your promotions meaningful to your customers. They should resonate with them enough that they will see it is worth their time to look into what you are offering. Whether it is offering them a free gift with each purchase or a dollar amount or percentage discount, the promotions need to have a good enough incentive to make them feel good about what they just purchased from you. And if they have a good experience they will be sure to come back. Remember most coupons are thrown away within seconds. Make yours stand out so that it sees their pocket before the trash.
Prepare your business website before the big wave
Preparing your business website for the big holiday rush is just as important as preparing your storefront.
Here are few things you can do to ensure your website is ready:
- Double check and troubleshoot all of your site pages especially your payment processing pages. The worst thing that can happen is when a customer has spent a fair amount of time on your site and decided to purchase something but at the end is unable to finish the transaction because your website’s payment processing page is not working properly. You’ve now lost that customer and potentially many more. So, take a few minutes to test your website—make sure all of your pages are working as they should and that your load time is good and can handle heavy traffic. Also get into the habit of daily monitoring your website to ensure it is working as planned.
- Update your website with special holiday information. If you are having a holiday special put that front and center. Create new and exciting imagery to entice people to browse your site. Show them you are prepared for the holiday season to help them find the best products. If you are extending your hours for the holidays or are closed on certain days, make that known. Don’t let your customers play the guessing game. Clearly state shipping costs and deadlines (for guaranteed holiday delivery) at the top of your home page. Make sure you make holiday shipping deadlines clear so that customers know exactly when they will expect to get their items. It is helpful to them and a great safeguard for you. This way they can’t blame you if they received their items too late. The more information you provide to your customers the more reliable you look and the better chances you will have for closing the sale.
If you run an e-commerce site, update your security software if needed and make sure to display your security credentials on every page of your site.
Make sure your search function works well. Many times customers come on to your site knowing exactly what they are looking for. If your search works properly, then they will find the products or information quickly, leaving you with a happy customer. But if it doesn’t then they could get frustrated and never return to your site.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Nowadays many shoppers use their smartphones to search nearby stores, and if your site doesn’t load well or quickly on their phone, they’ll move on to the next site. Your website developers or providers should be able to offer options on how to make your site mobile-friendly on a budget. Another great function to add is a “click-to-call button” on your site so customers can call your business with just a simple tap on their phones.
Additional Marketing strategies to consider this holiday season
It is a good idea to update your local search information. Make sure your business is listed on local search directories so that when customers search for you on search engines such as Google or Bing, your store will be sure to appear. This is mainly important if you plan to open a holiday pop-up store for the season. This will extremely help increase traffic to your business.
Use creative email marketing campaigns to reach your core audience during the holiday season. More and more people are online shopping, so that means they are more likely to check their email. If you email them a promotion or information about your business, they will most likely read your email.
Here are just a few things you can do:
- Develop social media and ad campaigns on Bing and Google to promote your business’ holiday specials.
- Polish your social media presence—make sure to clean up any negative comments and reviews if you can. Be prepared to answer any questions or reply to any comments made. This will show you as a responsive and responsible company to work with.
- Offer gift cards as presents. This will not only boost sales but will help bring in more customers after the holidays. After the holidays, people will come in to redeem their gift cards and hopefully pick up a few more items as well—helping you boost sales even more.
- Gather email addresses from new customers to boost your client list. This is a great way to help with next year’s strategy and planning. Always think about the future. And to make it a no brainer for people to give you their email (because let’s be real, some people just don’t like to give that out) so giving an incentive like a discount on their purchase or next purchase in exchange for their email address.
- Shopper’s habits today have changed dramatically where impulse buying has slowed down due to the rise of having the internet at your fingertips. Customers are now able to walk into your store look at the price of a product and search the internet right then and there, and within minutes can see if they can get it cheaper and faster someplace else. You should always research your competitors online to make sure your prices are reasonable. Give your customers confidence that they are making a good decision by purchasing the item from you right then and there instead of ordering from an online retailer and having to maybe pay for shipping or wait for it in the mail.
Compare your past year’s sales
Each holiday season is always different than the next, so you can’t really predict what will happen this year, but you can definitely learn and compare what worked and didn’t work to gain a better understanding of what to do and try this year. It also helps when planning holiday hours and scheduling your staff. And remember to monitor this year’s results for next year’s planning.
Extra funds can help
Preparing for the holiday season means more inventory, hiring more staff and many other expenses. Sometimes you just don’t have enough funds to do all of the things you need to do, so you can take advantage of what the holiday season can bring to your business. Taking out a business loan can help you get through the holiday season so you can seek opportunities that are right in front of you. Many private lenders will get you the cash you need in as little as one business day.
Preparing for the holiday season is very time-consuming and frustrating at times but always remember, it is a time of happiness and joy, so keep a smile on your face and have fun in growing your business.