Checklist for the Holiday Retail Season: Are You Ready?

With the profusion of holidays that barrel down the pike at the end of the year, you have probably given some thought to how your company is going prepare for the season. However, now is the time to solidify your plans for approaching this major revenue-boosting season. Just as everyone opens their wallets a little bigger during the holiday retail season, small business owners like you may need to spend a little more to benefit.

So how can you invest in what matters? Here are five ways to increase your small business success during the winter holiday season.

  1. Plan your promotions.

What kinds of offers do your customers respond to? Do they like buy one, get one free deals? Or do they prefer other types of offers like discounts on large purchases, free shipping, or gifts with a purchase? Some consumers like referral programs while others just want a loyalty program. Whatever gets your target market’s heart racing is a safe bet for more sales this year.

If you’re an entrepreneur who is just starting out, look and see what offers are common in your industry, but don’t stop there. Some of your market research might reveal how your competitors are failing to reach customers, which presents you with a great opportunity to try something different and see a beneficial response from your customer base.

  1. Use your channels effectively.

Small business owners today are fortunate. We have so many options for getting in front of target markets, whether it’s social media dispatches, search engines result page ads, website posts, text messaging, newsletter emails, or even the age-old methods of flyers, postcards, and other printed material. While the challenging part might be selecting the right channels, you have an abundance of options for communicating with previous and potential purchasers. Once you have your promotions locked in, start your campaign to let customers know how you’ll be rewarding them.

  1. Diagnose where you need improvement.

Almost every company has one thing that’s in need of enhancement.

  • Do you have times when you’re short-handed?

  • Does your website bog down on mobile?

  • Are your shipping procedures a bit too long and involved?

Look at your business processes with candor and focused attention to discern where you’re losing customers. If your repeat business is lacking, you might be ready for some high-powered customer relationship management software. If your website has a high bounce rate, you might need improved content. Take a look around and see where you can offer potential customers an enhanced experience and work on improving that aspect.

  1. Consider how you can give back.

Whether it’s your clients, your employees, or your community, it’s important to say ‘thank you’ to the folks who help generate your company’s success. If you’re planning on acknowledging your clients, now’s the time to pull together your plan for gift baskets, cards, or other goodies, so that you’re not organizing the campaign in the busy weeks of December.

Many companies hold informal celebrations to thank their employees while some offer bonuses or other gifts for jobs well-done. If giving back to your community is one of your priorities, this is a great occasion to organize food or gift drives that benefit the less fortunate. Whatever you decide to do, get the ball rolling sooner rather later, so you won’t be scrambling to fill your baskets when Q4 comes to an end.

  1. Coordinate your calendar.

In order to ensure that you hit all your seasonal targets and achieve success from well-coordinated promotions, it is time to allocate resources and divvy up responsibilities. Wrangling your calendar into some semblance of order will have big payoffs down the road. Make sure your calendar contains all relevant information. If you have employees, remember that many people look forward to spending time with loved ones during the holidays, so prepare to manage expectations with timely communication.

Once you’ve gone ahead and devised a system for forecasting how you’ll approach the holiday retail season, you’ll have created space for improved financial success. It might seem like something you can do on the fly, but just as a well thought out business plan makes running your business easier, a plan for the holiday season makes your seasonal sales more probable. The great news is that now you’ll have your blueprint for years to come and be able to measure what worked and what may not have worked so well. It’s time to get your business ready to make some holiday sales!

By Andrew Patricio

November 02, 2016