How to get your business ready for the holiday shopping season

coffeeshop-ownerWhether you run storefront business, or or strictly sell ecommerce, it’s time to create a holiday sales strategy. If you make the bulk of your profits between November 15 and January 15th as in Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, or the day after Christmas, it time to make sure that your business is ready for the holiday sales rush. Even if the holidays are not your peak season, you better put something on sale in November just to make sure you end fourth quarter on a high note.

If the holidays are like Super Bowl Sunday to your business, it’s time to be thinking about a few keys thing to make sure you are ready, and have backups in place. Preparation is key. Consider things like what you need to stock up on to fill your holiday orders. You also want to place your marketing plans in place now for things like Google Adwords, Instagram and Facebook ad campaigns. If you are a strictly local business, is it time to mail your direct mail offer, plan a local radio promotion or get ready to host an open house for your loyal customers.  Here’s a list of a few things that you’ll need to have in place to win big this holiday seasons.

Line Up Your Seasonal Workers:  If you hire for seasonal help, its time to contact those people to plan to bring on. You want to have everyone you need in advance, even your interns. Develop FAQs for phone inquiries, and use step-by-step guides with pictures so that your brand is not damaged by any of your temporary worker. Anyone can stuff a box, so don’t be afraid to enlist your family, neighborhood kids, and friends to help get you through the holidays. But do yourself a favor, train them properly before the rush hits.

Order Your Inventory:  Inventory shortages are real issue at holiday time. Look at what your sales were last holiday season to determine what items you need to have in place. Order your packaging, branded shipping boxes and raw materials in advance. Be sure to order extra too. You could be one media mention away from completely being sold out, but that’s a good problem to have.

Communicate With Your Vendors:  Start communicating with your manufacturers and distributor partners about your holiday plan. Make sure you have a back-up for your main supplier in case they are backed up with other customers. Manufacturers may hire temporary help too for the holidays, so if you have a product that requires a high-level of detail, you may want to order product early.

Prep Packaging in Advance: Presentation is everything. If your packaging is signature to your brand, set up everything that you can in advance so that you “WoW” the customers with their holiday orders. Get as much ready ahead of time, before the orders start coming. You want to protect your brand so your quality does not suffer in the holiday rush.

Develop Your Shipping Strategy: You can offer free shipping which is great marketing idea as shipping costs are one of the top reasons customers abandon shopping carts. This only works if you can find a way to absorb the cost of shipping in your product costs. You could offer (free shipping from Black Friday through Christmas). Offer a flat rate on shipping for purchases of two or more items. You need to make sure you know the average shipping cost of packages at different weights, so that you don’t lose your shirt with this. You can also do a direct pass through on shipping. In other words, you can charge what you’re charged: This is an expensive strategy, but you won’t lose too much on shipping.

Research Your Shipping Options NOW: Know when you need to have your items ready to ship so they arrive before Christmas. Figure out your best shipping options. Depending on the volume you ship, you should contact your account rep to see if there are any discounts being offered for the holidays.  If you belong to a trade organization or association, you may qualify for a discount with express shippers such as FedEx. You can also set up a USPS click-and-ship account so that they will pick up orders from your home or office.  You also want to automate as much about your shipping process as possible. Look at options such as Shipstation.com so that you can simplify shipping labels

Contact Your Merchant Account Provider or Paypal: If your sales boom over the holidays, you need to make sure that your credit card processor provides a daily limit high enough to process all of the transactions. You might just be fortunate enough to be selling the hot Christmas toy which will generate huge sales, and could shut down your shopping cart.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday or End of YEAR Blowout Marketing: Figure out now what specials you want push for this holiday season. These are major shopping holidays. You might want to develop special product bundles just for those days, or offer special pricing on your biggest selling items or volume discounts as well.

If you get well prepared for the holiday shopping season, your Christmas will be merry and bright. You’ll start 2017 is the green, and can take some time off to ring in the new year. Smart marketing will deliver amazing results.

How do you prepare for holiday sales?

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