The much-awaited annual long holiday season is excitingly here once again! The restrictions imposed during the height of the pandemic have been eased and even lifted in some places. In-store shopping is back, and customers can’t wait to shop for their families, friends, and other loved ones again. People’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s traditions that have been halted for the past years are returning, including gift shopping. The biggest question is, “Is your business ready for this holiday rush?”
We hope you have already finalized and even wrapped up your holiday business checklist. If not, you’re on the right page! This article will serve as a guide to getting your business holiday ready.
Ready? Let’s get going.
A great percentage of the population plans to bring back their holiday traditions and gatherings. People will likely return to in-person holiday shopping in local small businesses and, without a doubt, still continue shopping online. Including these essential activities on your holiday agenda will help your business with preparation and your market’s expectations.
The holidays can be the most profitable time of the year for your business. The holidays can also be the best opportunity for your business to connect to new customers. Planning is key to boosting profits and minimizing the stress of a year end and the new year approaching.
Plan your holiday marketing plan strategically. Assess the current status of your business. What were the products and/or services that your customers responded to well or welcomed warmly the past year? Prepare your best sellers, packages or gift sets, and holiday promotions.
Customized packaging for the holiday season that’s ready for gift-giving is also ideal. This will make your products extra special and encourage your customers to complete a purchase. Include a QR code on your packaging to direct people to share a photo or video of your products.
Then identify the key marketing channels that will most likely give your business good returns on your investment. These may include Facebook ads, radio advertising, or traditional newspapers.
Improve inventory management
Secure that your business has enough inventory to get it through the season. Save it from experiencing out-of-stock situations. Plan the production timeline if your business manufactures its own products. Carry it out prudently. Negotiate with your suppliers if you stock from one or two.
Use estimates to let them know about increased demands. This way, they’ll also be prepared for how many you want to acquire from them. Store in advance and as much as needed based on the marketing plan your team has pulled together.
Use the vision of your business holiday marketing plan in making sure that your inventory corresponds to your seasonal trends. You wouldn’t want to be caught shorthanded if your sales are higher than expected. So it pays to audit your stocks upon knowing the preparation that’s needed.
Aside from minding the incoming inventory, don’t lose sight of the current inventory. Determine if you need to offer it at a discount.
Set business holiday schedules
Establish the time and dates of your sale promotions, extended shopping hours, etc. Setting these will reduce the stress of the season.
Bring in the holiday cheer early. Start your holiday sales early to be the first stop of shoppers. Promote holiday shopping days including Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the Monday following Black Friday).
The holidays are a great opportunity for your business to send out different deals. Have festive merchandising, gift sets, gift wrapping service, and seasonal displays your customers will be delighted about.
And since we’re in a festive season, decorate your physical shop to bring in the holiday spirit. Update your website’s design if you’re managing an online shop as well. Make it a merry place to go.
Set your business website
Ready your website for handling increased traffic. This is a make-or-break opportunity for your sales. Make sure the checkout system is simple and hassle-free for online purchases. Review your website navigation. Check your website security and speed, the accuracy of your prices, and product descriptions. Customers will be reluctant to make a purchase if they find online stores not secure. Then set up your website’s testimonials section. Highlight positive product and/or service reviews and more user-generated content.
If you have been considering website updates that you have been putting off, now is the time to install them. Your business will miss a golden opportunity for streamlined processes if these changes are implemented later again.
The truth is, an outdated website is prone to breaches, crashes, and cyberattacks. Updating your website is updating its safety and security. Scheduling the updates now will prevent any business operation interruption during the holiday peak season. It will ensure that your business runs smoothly. Identify how long each update will take to be completed. Some updates can be done overnight.
Update social media
You’ll miss big opportunities when you neglect your business’s social media channels during the holiday season. Social media visits convert to orders.
Create announcements and last-chance reminders. You can communicate to your customers your holiday business hours through your available social media platforms.
Schedule posts to promote offers. Countless deals will be promoted by businesses during the holidays, and shoppers will be seeing them. Your business can’t afford to miss the opportunity.
Run irresistible promotions and attractive discounts that are easy to claim. Running a promotion can attract new customers, excite and reward existing customers, and clear out inventory.
Run a social media contest. This is a cost-efficient way to engage your loyal and prospective customers.
Give away gift certificates as prizes. The contest can be as simple as selecting a lucky follower who can post the best holiday-themed photo featuring any of your products and/or services.
Reach new audiences with your customers’ great experience of your products and/or services that they share on their socials. Share it on your business’s social media account(s).
Rewarding your customers with deals contributes to boosting your sales during holidays. Doing this shows your appreciation and incentivizes your customers to spend more time in your shop.
Prepare your physical store
Secure your store, employees, and products and/or services. Review your security systems, including alarms, cameras, and locks. Change your store’s Wi-Fi password or add one. A vulnerable network risks a gap in security. An unsecured one will house hackers. It can lead to hackers gaining access to your store’s systems and financial data. Lay down the procedures for closing the store to your employees.
Train your employees in customer service, especially seasonal hires, including dealing with difficult or irate customers professionally. Upskill them as well in managing long lines at the checkout counter(s) effectively and efficiently.
Have plenty of payment options. The past few years became the advent of contactless payment transactions. Some of these applications were already existing back then but were widely used not until the pandemic. Almost all businesses now accept more than just cash and cards. Your business is falling behind if it doesn’t.
You want to leave an impression on your customers, so clean your shop. For businesses, cleanliness is next to profitability. Don’t forget the festive seasonal decorations and displays! It creates a fun, holiday atmosphere, making the customers who step into the doors of your store happy. A beautifully designed store wins customers’ hearts in the first place. The more you decorate, the more energy and excitement you can bring to passersby, attracting them to visit your store.
Set staff schedules
Consider hiring seasonal staff to accommodate the demands of the holiday rush. If you’ve entertained the thought, start hiring at the soonest possible time. This will also start the training early, not on the already hectic holiday schedules. Maintaining regular work shifts for your current employees can go a long way with your business’ excellent customer service. Extended periods of work will just lead to reduced productivity and burnout. Being well-rested significantly impacts work delivery.
A budget analysis is a thorough review of your business’ budget. Scrutinizing the budget helps monitor how much profit your business is earning and compares it to how much you’re spending. It gives an understanding of where you are making money and where your finances are exiting.
Budget analysis can give a blueprint on how you can maximize your business profits. It’ll help you take care of your assets instead of piling up liabilities. A comprehensive budget analysis aids small business owners in making important decisions about the company’s expenses and revenue streams.
Complete your budget analysis by forecasting your sales for next year. Forecasting can help you plan and budget for the upcoming year. Secure extra capital in case an additional inventory is needed.
Wrapping your business holiday preparation with a budget analysis is great for your business’s financial well-being.
Researching trends can be the difference between business success and failure. It is one of the most important things businesses can do to secure their future.
Look into the trends of the industry your small business is part of. See if it can tap into these trends through your pre-existing product and/or service offerings. Small businesses are closer to customers than larger brands. Your business staying on top of trends will be an advantage.
It pays to research trends. Researching trends uncovers vital information that will help set a clear strategic direction for your small business. Looking into the trends helps you understand how your business is performing. It will also help project where your current business operations and practices will take you.
You’ll learn about your market needs and demands, growth opportunities, underserved or new markets, and even your competitors’ tactics. Researching trends will let you see firsthand what’s working or not for your business. If done thoroughly, it will give ideas on how to mobilize your business in the right direction.
Timeline for strategy implementation
Once your teams are done planning everything to get your business ready for the holidays, settle their timeline. Create a calendar for when they’ll be launched in your market.
Being aware of the timeline for the strategy implementation is one thing. Understanding the strategy implementation process is another thing. Both go a long way in bringing about change within a small business. The success of small businesses rests on their capacity to implement decisions and execute key processes consistently, effectively, and efficiently.
To achieve success, turn your plans into action to reach your desired business outcomes. Deliver what’s planned on time, on budget as much as possible, and with quality and minimum variability. Deliver them even in the midst of unexpected events. Monitor the progress, and your business won’t miss your set timeline.
Key financial documents
Run a full end-of-the-year inventory count. It is the greatest way to cap the calendar year in the key business area of finances. A full inventory count contributes to a comprehensive business financial analysis that’ll set your business up for the next year.
Generate a cash flow statement. It is also a good business finances status check for the upcoming year. A cash flow statement reveals how much businesses earn from their sales and other dividends. It helps create an assets report and calculates the ability of your business to meet expenses, planned or sudden.
Assess the year’s goals
End the year on a positive note. What were the goals you outlined for this year? Visit the objectives that guided you throughout the year. Check if you have invested your time and money in the right things. If you did, it just means that you’re still on track.
Do you still have goals to meet before finally saying goodbye to the current year? Make sure your holiday marketing plan will not get in the way of ending the year on a positive note. In the same way, your great holiday marketing plan should not be compromised. The two must be aligned from the start.
Employee morale events
Bring in the holiday cheer! The time around Thanksgiving until the end of the year is a stressful season for small businesses. The work pace increases due to business demands.
Company parties may seem like an added agenda on your business calendar, but hold that thought! They bring in bonuses. These encourage your employees to come together as a team, improving employee morale at a stressful and hectic time.
Employees would love to take some time off during the holidays, around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. Sad to say, it may not be ideal and realistic for your business. Create and communicate well your company’s vacation policies. Offer perks to your employees who’ll volunteer to work on the holidays. Set a fair leave system. Don’t skip complying with your state and federal laws regarding holiday and overtime pay.
This holiday business to-do list can’t be carried out without a well-organized implementation strategy and strong administrative work. Make sure to have all these marked on your checklist to avoid any oversights. Holiday business checklists are ever-evolving.
Accomplish them and your business can celebrate the merry season without worrying about experiencing loss and uncertainty. Your business will come out generating revenue and be successful this holiday season.
The holiday season presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. It can put stress on a business if it does not have the capacity to deal with the incoming shoppers. But, there’s a way to ease the tension. The key to facing them head-on is preparation.
Organizing a holiday business checklist will save you from getting overwhelmed by taking care of mishaps during the festive season. It will keep every aspect of your business in check. Marking every item on the checklist as accomplished is another thing. It’s a milestone. Understanding how to prepare your small business for the holiday season will get you off to the right start.
Hybrid Shopping Growing in Popularity
Technology is becoming more prevalent in many aspects of people’s lives. Customers have been inclined to online shopping, especially over the past years. And it will continue to be some customers’ preferred mode of purchasing their needs and wants. But, in-person shopping will stay around. This goes to say that hybrid shopping is now a standard. The holiday marketing and sales strategy of your small business should take into account consumer behavior.
To gear up for this, establish your business website in a way that can facilitate a hybrid shopping experience. Put an end to the slow-earning winter months for your small business. Take full advantage of the combination of online and in-person shoppers for a long haul during the seasonal rush.
If you have a physical store, ensure that your stock numbers are kept up to date on your website. This will serve as the products’ availability guide for your customers. Google data reported that foot traffic for brick-and-mortar stores is heaviest in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the website traffic for online stores is all day long. Today’s customers are now more familiar with doing their shopping online to avoid crowded stores.
Bonus: Making Noise this Holidays
Small businesses are thriving. Economic confidence in small businesses is riding high, with consumers spending more locally.
The last months of the year are crucial sales periods for small businesses. It is when consumers are willing to double their spending. The holiday season is a time for small businesses to thrive. They grow their brand exposure, win new customers, build relationships with their existing customers, and drive sales.
How can your small business get loud during holidays?
Create a gift guide. Put a little time and thought into it. Many wish to make the season merrier for their loved ones through gifts but ran out of gift ideas. Help your customers out. Make shopping easier for them. A gift guide will apprise them that you offer products and/or services for different age groups and gender. This is an attractive way to showcase your products and/or services and contribute to boosting sales.
In-store or online, consider organizing the items in your store in categories. Label them so your customers can find them conveniently.
Wrapping Up for the Seasonal Rush
Every day counts for businesses as the holidays are fast approaching. Staying as organized as possible is key. Business owners don’t have to end up having a joyless holiday experience being occupied with what needs to be done. They can always benefit from a hand from professionals in putting things in order.
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