Summer has come and gone and Fall is well underway. Its time to get your business ready for the holidays! If you think you can wait, think again – it takes time to plan and execute your holiday operations. Here are 7 tips for you to consider:
Optimize your website:
Whether you employ your website for sales or marketing purposes, you should prepare it for your holiday inventory and holiday services, including any seasonal increase in volume. Steps you should take include updating your security software, revamping your pages to reflect the holiday season, and creating special holiday landing pages. If necessary, clearly state holiday shipping deadlines and costs, as well as special store hours, if appropriate. Finally, do some load testing to ensure your website won’t crash due to heavy holiday traffic.
Order your inventory:
Do it now, before prices go any higher. Review previous year sale data to gauge how much to order and check out new products you will want to include this year. If necessary, arrange financing to pay for your inventory. Remember, IOU Financial can lend you up to $300,000 with funding in 24 to 48 hours. Having cash up front for your inventory purchases may get you preferential access to scarcer items, which can be a real leg up at holiday time.
Plan labor scheduling and temporary hiring:
Many retail stores require extra help during the holiday season. Make your preparations early to lock in the workers you will need, before your competitors grab them. Your holiday budget should reflect the costs of extra labor. Once again, you can turn to IOU Financial to fill any gaps in your working capital to ensure you can pay your extra employees promptly.
Spruce up your store:
The holiday season demands special décor and ambience. Think of pleasing all the senses with appropriate lighting, decorations, music, free samples of holiday food, and even employing a Santa for young children. Your promotions should tie in to the holidays, with frequent sales and surprises. Your website should parallel your retail store’s promotion plans, such as Gifts for Grandma, Gifts for Teacher, etc.
Increase your social media footprint:
Reach out to shoppers through online reviews and social media. Review your search results and ratings, and consider a holiday ad campaign on the major search engines. You can set up software to monitor new social mentions of your business during the holidays so that you can respond quickly to any negative reviews or comments.
Prepare and execute your holiday email campaigns:
Email marketing is an important adjunct to your sales funnel. During the holidays, your email’s will naturally take on a seasonal flavor. You also might consider a more aggressive distribution schedule to take advantage of the public’s buying mood before your competitors do. Vendors like MailChimp and Constant Contact let you plan out and execute your autoresponders and drip emails in a logical, effective fashion.
Plan your post-holiday buying rush:
Many retailers make a giant portion of their annual profits between Christmas and New Year’s Day. You’ll want to plan your special markdowns and how you will market them. Also, be prepared for the inevitable increase in returns – customers appreciate a streamlined process. Here’s a nifty idea: Sell your leftover gift cards at a discount during the post-holiday period.
The holidays can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Guarantee the former by planning your holiday moves early on and funding your working capital with a handy small business loan to ensure you have enough cash for all the extra costs during the holiday season.