It’s November, and the holiday shopping season is right around the corner. In a few short weeks, your customers will be heading out to the stores with their shopping lists. In fact, Forbes says that one trend to watch this year is earlier shopping, with spending predicted to increase in November 2021, just like it did in 2020. So if you want a piece of the holiday sales pie, it is vital that you start planning for the holiday shopping season right away. As you get started, here are three areas to focus your attention on.
Devise a Sales Strategy
I always recommend that small business owners prepare for the holiday shopping season by first defining their promotions strategy because after you do this, all your other planning efforts will fall into place. For example:
- Will you be offering a straight percentage discount store-wide or will you be choosing specific products or services to highlight in your discounts?
- Will you be focusing on new inventory or offering attractive sales to get rid of older merchandise?
- Is there any way you can create bundles of popular items to increase the amount of sales per purchase from customers who were just going to buy one thing but couldn’t pass up the bundle price?
- What is your plan for shipping? Shipping costs are the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment, so small businesses should budget to offer free shipping and compete with bigger competitors.
Once you identify your sales strategy, it’s time to order extra inventory to make sure you have enough in stock. The news is abuzz right now with talk about supply chain shortages and how they will impact the holiday shopping season: empty shelves, delays, and higher prices. The earlier you order the items at the center of your holiday sales strategy, the less stress you will have this season.
Boost Your Staffing
Another thing making the news lately is a huge wave of hiring challenges, which are only likely to get worse as the holiday season grows closer. In fact, CNBC reported that there are about 10 million job openings in the US right now – which is roughly 1 million more than the number of unemployed people in the US. You read that right – there are more jobs than people who can fill them!
It’s time to start looking for holiday workers right away. Determine how many additional temporary workers you’ll need this season and start advertising your positions now. Here are some additional tips to try:
- Ask current employees if they would like to pick up extra shifts during the holidays so you have a clear understanding of what you can do with your current staff.
- Reach out to former employees who have helped during past holiday seasons to see if they would like to return this year.
- Offer bonuses to employees who recommend viable candidates who can work this holiday season.
- Focus on transferrable skills. It may be hard to find candidates who have experience in your particular industry this year, so focus on people who have transferrable skills that will be useful in your business.
- Make the hiring process, including onboarding, as simple as possible by providing new hires with everything they need to get started on day 1.
- Train your team early, so they know the plan for the holiday shopping season and their role before the season hits: how to greet customers, where to find inventory, how to ring up sales, etc.
Develop Your Marketing Plan
Start your marketing as early as possible this holiday shopping season. With roughly eight weeks left, plan how you are going to reach out to customers every week until Christmas. Emails, social media, advertisements… make sure your plan covers everything!
- Emails: Decide upon the subject of each of your weekly emails. Will you be featuring a new coupon or discount each week? Do you want to highlight popular products with videos, reviews, and testimonials? Could you somehow feature employees or customers?
- Social Media: Build interest in your business by sharing some behind-the-scenes videos of your business getting ready for the holiday rush. Promote your best sales. Write holiday-themed blog posts to share on your social pages. Hold a holiday-themed contest. Whatever you do on social media, make sure the excitement about your business comes through! After all, if you aren’t excited, why should they be?
- Advertisements: Set aside a budget to buy Facebook or PPC ads this year so you can get right in front of customers as they are prepared to purchase. Design a clear, simple, and compelling offer, and make sure to create custom audiences to drill down to your ideal customer. For more information on paid advertising strategies, check out my popular post Boost Your 2020 Holiday Season Sales with PPC and Social Media Ads.
It’s important that your marketing efforts span the ENTIRE holiday season. Experts are predicting the continued erosion of Black Friday, so don’t put your eggs in one basket. Instead, prepare for an increase in foot traffic spread over the entire holiday season. Also, if you haven’t participated in Small Business Saturday yet, this is a great opportunity to do so, as there has been a resurgence in the ‘shop local’ movement since the pandemic started.
2021 is sure to be a holiday shopping season like no other. The lingering effects of the COVID outbreak are sure to show up in sales, staffing, and marketing, so it is vital that you begin planning your holiday sales strategy right away.
What’s your plan for holiday sales this year? Share your best small business tips in the comments below!