The holidays are just around the corner, and with more tariffs on Chinese imported good set to kick in on Dec 15th, people will shop early this year. Are you ready for holiday sales? It’s time to plan now for the biggest shopping season of the year. The sales will be rolling by Halloween, so don’t get caught waiting until Black Friday or Small Business Saturday to boost sales! Get cracking right away with these tips.
8 Tips for Getting Ready for Holiday Sales
1. Decide What You Want to Put on Sale or Bundle
Defining your promotions strategy first will help the rest of your planning efforts fall into place. Will you offer a straight percentage discount storewide or on selected products? Or will you highlight certain products or services with special pricing? The second strategy is a great way to drive traffic in the door for highly sought-after items. Once they’re shopping, customers will likely buy other items as well.
- Upfront Sales: If you’re a service business, you could offer a 15 percent discount on prepaid 2020 service calls, tax prep, or speaking engagements.
- Bundle It: If you are good with baskets and bows, throw a few items together for a great price. People need easy holiday gifts. If you have products that haven’t sold well, bundle them with other more popular items and offer them as gift baskets.
- Prepare for FREE Shipping: If you sell products online, free shipping is a must! It’s the #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment. Budget for it and make it happen.
2. Order Extra Inventory
The last thing you want to do is run out of stock on your best sellers. If you’re planning to push more promotions on certain items, make sure you’ve got plenty of inventory. Last-minute scrambling to restock is a great way to eat your profit margin in higher wholesale costs and rush shipping fees. The earlier you order your supplies, the less stress you’ll have this holiday.
3. Start Staffing Holiday Help
October is a great time to start looking for seasonal workers. If you’ve been swamped in previous holidays, you know hiring extra hands to help take care of the overflow of customers or shipping requirements makes sense. Determine how many temporary workers you’ll need over the holiday season and give them an employment commitment quickly before someone else steals them away.
4. Train Your Team Early
In late October, train your existing and temp workers on your customer FAQs and any new POS system you might be using before the shopping season hits so that they know how to greet a customer, find inventory, package your product and ring up sales. You’ll be too busy to train once the holiday rush starts, so make sure everyone knows their roles. Be sure to cross-train folks as well.
5. Leverage Marketing Resources
Did you know this is the 10th anniversary of Small Business Saturday? It started in 2010 but was officially recognized as a holiday in 2011 by the US Senate, and now millions of people support local businesses in their community on the Saturday after Black Friday. If you are a local retailer, this is a great opportunity to remind people that you are a small business by hosting events in early November. You can also host a small business Saturday event and rally all the other local businesses nearby to co-host a business crawl or open house.
Small Business Saturday or the Shop Small movement is making an impact. According to American Express, in 2018, U.S. consumers reported spending a record high of an estimated $17.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. Over the years, Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 2010. American Express has a webpage with ideas and marketing materials to promote your participation in the shop small movement this holiday. There are some great resources on the site to let shoppers in your community know you’re participating and you can get access to store signs and social media updates to share, cutting your marketing efforts in half.
6. Start Your Marketing Early
By November 1st, start reaching out to your customers with emails about your holiday sales. Be sure to develop special offers for existing customers that are not for everyone. Post videos with happy customers enjoying your products, or feature one of your employees talking about why they love your products and your customers. Send emails weekly with different coupon offers. Some ideas are: 40% off one item, 20% off Tuesdays (or whatever is your slowest day), buy one get one half off, and 50% off your entire order.
7. Be Your Own Hype Man
Make your business THE place to be on social media. If you aren’t excited about your business, why should anyone else be excited? To build interest in your business, share some behind-the-scenes videos inside your business getting ready for the mad holiday rush. You can even get one of those Elf on Shelf dolls and move him around your store.
8. Set Aside Budget to Buy Facebook Ads
You need to drive traffic to your store or your website, and that means you must advertise this holiday season. Bear in mind, when the holidays roll around, big brands spend a lot, and the cost of Facebook Ads goes up for everyone, but you can still win the holiday ad game if you are strategic.
- Consider Non-Traditional Ad Spots: There are 14 places you can advertise on Facebook and Instagram, but ads are really auctions at holiday time, so looks for opportunities that other overlooks such as the right column, Facebook stories, and Instagram stories.
- Test Your Campaign a Week Early: You want to try your campaign a week before you want it to go live fully. Use 3-5 pieces of artwork to test your campaign with your audience, so you can get down to the best two ads. The test is important to make sure everything is working right with your campaign, your website, and your shopping cart.
- Create Custom Audiences: Holiday ads work best on people who know your brand already. Import your email list from existing customers in FB. You can create a custom list from those who have visited your website, Instagram page, or anyone who has interacted with a specific video on your Facebook fan page.
- Design a Compelling Offer: To win with online ads during the holiday season, you’ll need a clear, simple, and compelling offer – the last part being the most important. Your ad can offer a freebie, or you could make a discount offer, but it needs to be at least 25% to be competitive. Consider your offer carefully, and be sure you are not eliminating your profit margin either.
- Understand Your FB Ad Account Spending Limit: Facebook gives all advertisers a spending limit, and you need to find out what yours is before your holiday campaign starts running. Why? FB could cut off your ads if you reach your limit. Pay attention to this and stay on top of your spending daily.
- Schedule Your Ad Campaign Early: You do not want to book your ad campaigns on FB at the last minute at holiday time; ad approval can talk longer during the holidays. If you get picked for a manual review of your campaign, it will hold back your ability to drive traffic to your website.
For more advice on Facebook Ads, you can also get my free e-book here.
Because the holiday sales season will be early this year, it’s important that you start planning now. Being ready for holiday sales ahead of time will reduce your stress and make the Christmas shopping season go smoothly. Look at what products you are targeting to sell. Get your staffing plan together and organize your online marketing campaigns. Then you can sit back and wait for the rush and your cash register to start ringing off the hook.