To some entrepreneurs, thinking about the holiday rush in October can seem a little premature. But in reality, it’s the perfect time to get prepared. If you run a retail or eCommerce business, the holidays should be your busiest time of year. From gifts to decorations, consumers are eager to spend their money to make their holidays truly wonderful. The rush to buy before the holidays could give your profits a substantial boost. But it also comes with an increase in orders, frustrated customers and sales periods too. This chaos can fill even the more experienced entrepreneur with dread.
If you aren’t able to keep up with the demand and still provide excellent service, your business may experience severe losses. Your customers will go elsewhere and your sales will plummet. The last thing you want is for your business to under-perform due to lack of planning and preparation. So to prevent this from happening, follow the steps in this short guide and get your retail business ready.
Order Additional Stock
If you expect a lot of customers during this holiday season, you need to ensure your stock levels are able to cater to this demand. Empty shelves and sold out items can be off-putting and force your customers to shop with your competitors instead. It’s also a missed opportunity for you to increase your revenue even more. So ordering additional stock for this busy shopping period should be a top priority. But before you start buying extra products, you need to take stock of what you already have. Schedule in some time NOW to do a stock check of the items in your physical store or warehouse. This can make it easier to plan how many additional items you need to order, while also pinpointing which items continually sell well. While seasonal items sell well during the holidays, it’s important to also stock up on the products that sell well all-year-round. You’re likely to find that these products are still appealing to customers during the holidays too.
When choosing which seasonal items to order, always make sure that they are relevant to both your business and your customers. If your customers don’t want these seasonal products at their full price, you may have to discount them to get rid of them. So be smart with festive-themed items and order in advance to get ahead of your competition.
In addition to ordering extra stock, you should also start planning for the post-holiday sales. In the past, these sales didn’t start until January, but many businesses now start their sales as early as Boxing day. You might also want to take part in pre-holiday promotional events such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Preparing for a sale, regardless of whether you are online or offline can be time-consuming. So be realistic about how much time you give yourself and how many sales you offer before and after the holidays. You might also want to start designing and ordering promotional materials such as signs and flyers NOW. These can inform your customers of the dates of your upcoming sales and encourage them to make a return visit.
Hire Extra Staff
While running a business by yourself is not impossible, it can become overwhelming very quickly. With more customers, orders and inquiries to deal with, you’ll constantly be in demand. This could mean that you are unable to complete other business related tasks at a high standard or on time. You might also find that you make more mistakes as you have so much to think about each day. So rather than going it alone, why not consider hiring temporary staff. This is ideal for both physical stores and online retail businesses, who anticipate a busy festive period.
Ideally, you should be hiring extra staff in October, in order to train them before the holiday rush arrives. But remember that temporary staff will be highly sought after during this time of year. You may face competition from other stores or find it difficult to find staff with the right experience and skills. So start contacting agencies and advertising job opportunities now, rather than leaving it to the last minute.
Another option for eCommerce businesses is to consider order fulfillment services such as Red Stag Fulfillment. These services can pick your products then pack and ship them to your customers. Some will also deal with returns for you too! Having these services allows you to carry on with other tasks, but have the peace of mind that your operations are running smoothly. Whether you’re considering a fulfillment service or temporary staff, always check your finances first. Not being able to pay for this extra help could be disastrous for you and your business.
Consider Your Website
Each year, more customers choose to shop online during the holidays rather than visit their local shopping mall. So your website needs to be able to cope with this increase in online traffic. It’s not unheard of for business websites to crash due to being unable to deal with the additional demand. If customers aren’t able to access your site, it can be impossible for them to buy your products. Therefore, causing you a severe drop in sales which could mean you don’t meet your targets. Again, this could also lead your customers to buy from your competitions’ more capable websites instead. This is not the outcome you want during such an important shopping “season.” So contact your hosting provider to find out what they can do to help you deal with your anticipated rise in traffic.
You might also want to consider hiring a full-time member of staff or an outsourced consulting firm who can manage your online presence. They can reply to customer queries, process orders and update your social media. This will help you maintain a professional reputation, but will also improve customer satisfaction and your customer service levels too.
Have A Holiday Themed Photoshoot
Organizing a festive photoshoot in advance can provide you with valuable marketing images of your products. These can be used to create flyers, lookbooks or catalogs that your customers can view before the rush begins. You can use the images for attractive landing pages on your website that showcase your most sought after products. You can even use them for gift guides which you can feature on your social media and blog. This can give your customers some much-needed inspiration and entice them to buy from you when the time comes.
You have the option to do the entire shoot by yourself. Or you can hire a professional photography service such as Pow Product Photography to assist you. Whichever option you choose, make sure you research festive styling and layout ideas beforehand. This should give you a clear idea of the theme and look you want to create in your product images. Communicate your ideas clearly to the photographer to make sure you get the results you desire. These photographs can make your brand seem more appealing, no matter how you end up using them.
Preparing your business for the holidays shouldn’t be such a mammoth. It’s the most wonderful time of year, but it’s also the most stressful and sometimes challenging time as well. While you can’t completely avoid the stress of the festive season, sufficient planning can make you more resilient. The holiday shopping rush will be here before we know it. So start preparing your business today for any “snowballs” the holidays may throw at you.