Labor Day just passed. Not only are kids back in school, but the holiday shopping season is fast approaching. But this year will be extra complicated. Due to the pandemic and shut down, supply chains are disrupted, and there are lots of cash flow shortfalls. A lot of small businesses have been trying to keep their employees, but many have cut staff. And now the flu season is expected to be especially hard; many are predicting that we could face another nationwide shut down by November 25th. So, what is a small business to do? Get your online holiday sales strategy together early!
What will be your holiday sales strategy this year? If you make 70 percent or more of your profit in the fourth quarter, you need to make sure that you get your share of the holiday spend. Although cash is tight, now is the time to be thinking about how to drive sales, stock up on inventory, and fulfill holiday orders. When it comes to holiday sales strategy, preparation is key. You also want to place your orders early for any advertising you plan to do on Google, Facebook, and Instagram to make sure your click to buy button apps are ready and working.
5 Steps to Plan Your Holiday Sales Strategy
If you need some help planning out your holiday sales strategy, use this checklist I’ve created for you. Check off every box on this list, and you’ll be ready to roll on Oct 15st with your holiday promotions.
1. Identify the Products/Services to Push
What is going to be your special offer this holiday? Service businesses need to be thinking about discounts for advanced orders too. If you are a professional speaker, you could offer a bundle like a webinar, blog post, and a podcast interview for your customers. If you are going to advertise through social media—buy the inventory now. Don’t forget direct mail and email work well in any holiday sales strategy, too, especially with existing customers. Whether you’re trying to push a popular new product or get rid of some aging inventory, your promotions must be aligned with what you want to sell.
Pick a bundle deal: If you have aging inventory, consider bundling it with more popular products. Create gift baskets at a slight discount from what each product would cost individually. Market these holiday bundles to send them flying through your online shopping cart. Use free shipping. All major retailers do this for the holidays, so if you don’t, you’re giving your customer one more reason to bail on you.
2. Tweak Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan may need to shift slightly to accommodate Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Your online ads, content, promotions, and PR will need to be developed for your holiday promotions well in advance, so you are not rushed and can develop an effective appeal to engage your audience.
Promote your holiday sale across your social media accounts. Write holiday-themed blog content. Hold a holiday giveaway contest. Donate a portion of profits to a charity. Each of these marketing tactics can help your business have a major impact this shopping season.
3. Order Inventory and Shipping Supplies
The worst thing that can happen is you get a bunch of orders that you can’t fill during the holidays. No one wants a gift on December 26th. You’ll likely need more inventory than you’d otherwise keep throughout the year, so don’t wait until December to order stock. In fact, research at least two vendors to secure your top items, so you aren’t held hostage by a supplier. Only having one supplier means you risk the products you want not being in stock, as well as shipping delays, both of which can cause you to disappoint customers.
When ordering inventory, don’t forget to order shipping supplies too. The presentation of your gift is part of your branding, so any old box in the warehouse won’t cut it.
4. Think Through Your Holiday Sales Strategy
What worked to appeal to customers in summer and spring might not be your best approach during the holidays. Your sales technique might need to get aggressive in Q4 to compete with everyone else slashing prices. Set sales goals for the holiday season. You should have specific, measurable objectives that you can work toward. If you set goals last year, use that historical data as you develop your holiday sales strategy this year.
5. Hire Extra Staff Early
If you know the holidays are busy, hire the help you’ll need early, so that you can have a plan to deliver superior service. You want your orders delivered on time. Line up at least two shipping options as well. You might have regular shipping and urgent shipping for last-minute orders. It’s worth the extra expense to bring on extra customer service folks to ensure that your customers are served well.
Get your temporary staff trained well in advance. You want your entire staff to feel comfortable operating your point-of-sale system, packing boxes as well as assisting customers over the phone. If you’re lucky, you’ll hire employees that are so terrific that you might want to keep one or two after the holidays.
If you get started planning your holiday sales strategy over the coming weeks, you’ll make your life a lot less stressful. You’ll have a lot to juggle as Black Friday approaches, so do yourself a favor and start planning. Not only will you be ready to churn out those sales, but you’ll also be less stressed in doing so.
Here are some extra things to keep in mind:
- Your Suppliers: Communicate with your manufacturers and distributors about your holiday sales strategy. Make sure you have a back-up for your main supplier, in case they are slammed with other holiday orders. Also, keep in mind that your manufacturer may be using temporary help too, so if you have a product that requires a high level of craftsmanship, you may want to order those products early so that your quality does not suffer.
- Shipping Options: Know when you need to have your items ready to ship so that they arrive before Christmas. Figure out your best shipping options. If you belong to a trade organization or association, you may qualify for a discount with FedEx or UPS for shipping. You can also set up a USPS click-and-ship account so that they will pick up orders from your home or office.
- Contact Your Merchant Account Provider: If you are going to focus on sales over the holidays, you need to make sure that your credit card processor provides a daily limit high enough to process all the transactions. If you are fortunate enough to have your product featured in the media or in a magazine, you can have a huge amount of sales in a day, which could shut down your shopping cart.
- Seasonal Staff: Have your seasonal help and interns lined up in advance. Develop a training program or a step-by-step guide with pictures so that your brand is not damaged by a temporary worker. You can also enlist your kids, spouse, church members, and friends to help get you through the holidays.
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday Marketing Strategy: Figure out now what inventory or specials you must push on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You want to develop special pricing and volume discounts as well. You may even want to develop a pay-per-click campaign (PPC) for the holidays. You’ll want to develop 3-5 different ads so that you can adjust your campaign to the one that is resonating the most with your target audience.
These ideas are sure to get you on the right path in developing your holiday sales strategy early this year. What is your best holiday sales tip to add to this list?