I am sure you are thinking really Susan; it is only the middle of August. Trust me I can’t believe how this summer has gone by, but this is the time to start planning your business for the holiday season. I can tell you from my experience that most business that did not have a productive holiday season did not plan ahead. They waited until October or November and then it is too late. Did you know that most large retail stores plan close to 1 year in advance…so where are you in your holiday planning stage?
What should a business owner be doing on a sunny August day? If you sell to consumers, it’s time to get every aspect of your business ready to reap the most benefit from the upcoming holiday season. The more you do now to ready your business for holiday shoppers, the more profits you’ll reap by the end of this year. To avoid lost holiday sales in the last quarter of this year, review the items in the list below to make sure you’ve got everything in place to encourage time-pressed shoppers to buy from you.
- Check up on orders and supplies.Check to see that you’ll have enough merchandise on hand to satisfy customers. Use last year’s records to estimate the quantities of inventory you’ll need to meet this year’s demand. Check to be sure you’ll have enough supplies or items you’ll need to wrap or deliver customers’ purchases.
- Plan to start promoting holiday sales early. According to a 2012 survey conducted by Compete, 54% of shoppers had completed at least a quarter of their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving weekend.
- Plan ways now to encourage shoppers to come back to make additional purchases after the holidays. Loyalty programs and coupons that can be redeemed after the first of the year can help turn first-time shoppers into repeat shoppers
- Be sure your website is customer-friendly. Consumers do a lot of their holiday shopping online. Even if they make their purchases in person at small local shops, they’re still likely to do their “window shopping” online. To be sure your online store is consumer-friendly, ask a friend who has never used your site to make a purchase. Give them something specific to buy, and then watch as they try to find the item and buy it on your website. Do they quickly locate the item? Can they figure out how to put it in the cart, and then how to view the cart and pay for the item? Or are they clicking around in frustration? Fix any problems you see now so you don’t frustrate and lose shoppers during the holidays.
- Be sure your phone number, business hours, time zone, customer service email address, return policy and guarantee can all be found from all pages on your Website. The easier it is for customers to find contact information, the more confident they’ll be about placing an order.