Although it’s still not quite fall, it’s never too early to start thinking about the holiday season. Generally speaking, the holidays mean that businesses are ramping up for more volume and sales. So, now is the time for small business owners to begin thinking ahead a few months and learn ways to be a part of the giving season. Don’t get crushed by the competition; join them by taking these actions for the holidays.
Get ready for the holiday rush ahead of time
During the holidays, consumers are ready to pull out their wallets and buy all the gifts. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan ahead to make sure your inventory is well-stocked, your workflow is ready for the influx of customers, the website is updated, and the seasonal promotions are ready to go. You’ll also want to make sure your holiday hours are visible both on your storefront and online when the time comes.
Regarding your website, you need to have SEO-friendly content that allows visitors to engage with you and your business. If you want people to get a good idea of what your business looks like before they arrive, consider incorporating 360 video that allows customers to take a “virtual tour” of your floor space. Last but not least, make sure the information contained in your My Google Business listing is correct; you don’t want to be misrepresented in any way online.
Knowing what your customers want, what they think about your services or products and about their experiences with your business opens the door to making necessary changes and even finding new customers this holiday season. One of the best ways to do this is by asking for positive reviews.
Upgrade your payment system
The last thing you want during a transaction is for the credit card machine to go down. Since writing checks is a lost art and most customers don’t carry enough cash, your credit card machine should be up to date and reliable. If it’s time to give your point-of-sale system an upgrade, look for a credit card machine that makes it easier for customers to pay you, ensuring you don’t miss out on any revenue. The right machine will be easy for your employees to use, is reliable, helps with payment disputes, provides security for you and the customer and is PCI compliant. Additionally, you may want to invest in cyber threat protection, as small businesses are frequently the target of criminals and opportunists.
Hire seasonal help
Get ready for the holiday rush by making arrangements for seasonal employees to take on the extra workload. Seasonal workers are there when you need an extra hand with making products, serving customers, or shipping orders. You still need the best employees representing your business and serving your customers, so make sure you’re getting quality candidates — you may even find someone worth keeping on permanently. Brush up on job interview techniques and etiquette beforehand, and be prepared to explain the full job requirements so there are no surprises. By planning ahead, you’ll be ready to hire everyone you need.
Bring Out the Decorations
It’s never too early to start thinking about decorations! Plan out this year’s holiday designs and displays, and start looking for the pieces you’ll need to bring those ideas to life. Be sure to dress up your shop with holiday cheer to attract customers who are ripe for gift shopping. Put up lights, holiday-themed plants, a tree with ornaments and gifts underneath, and holiday signage outside and throughout the store. Make your storefront welcoming so that customers will want to walk in.
Run a holiday special
Customers are always looking for deals and promotions around the holidays. Running a sale doesn’t mean your products need to be cheaper than the competition; it just means they should be priced lower than the original sticker price. Give customers an incentive to buy from you instead of a big-box retailer by offering a bargain they can’t refuse. It could be a percent-off discount, loyalty programs, free shipping, gift sets, BOGO, or a free gift with every order. Utilize a discount pricing strategy that makes sense for your bottom line, workflow, product value, and customer base. Perhaps you could incorporate your holiday décor into a special: Every customer who spends X dollars or more gets to select a mystery present from under the tree.
Since the holidays are a few months away, you’ll have time to put together a holiday marketing campaign that works for both you and your customers. An online banner maker, for example, can help you easily create graphics and artwork for your website and social media pages. Here’s the best part: many of these tools are free to use.
Get into the spirit of giving
The holidays are about giving. Consider making donations to local charities on behalf of your business or giving small proceeds from every sale to charity. Your customers will feel good about their purchase, and you’ll be able to do your philanthropic part too. You could also collect toys or canned goods by leaving out a bin for customers to drop off their donations. This summer, start looking into different charities in your community and find one that you feel could benefit from your contributions.
While some companies shut down during the holidays, this is the busiest time of the year for others. The gift shopping season can crush a small business if you don’t play your cards right, but having a holiday plan in place could elevate it to greater heights. And while it’s warm outside right now, it won’t be long before people start breaking out the jackets and start thinking about the holidays.
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