Earlier Every Year: Get Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season Now

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Maximizing profitability during the holiday season is a result of planning & preparation, learn how to ready your business for success.

It's September, and the majority of your customers (and potential customers) are still enjoying the last warm, sunny days of summer. But for business owners, it's time to get into the holiday spirit.

Waiting too long to form your game plan for boosting holiday sales can cost you big time. Now is the time to begin planning to ensure that 2015 is your best year ever for holiday sales.

Many businesses depend on their sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday to keep them in the black for the entire rest of the year. Making the most of this enormous profit opportunity is essential, but it doesn't require an in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of marketing to do so. A few simple strategies and tips are all you really need in order to prepare your business for successful holiday shopping. Here are some great places to start.

Related Article: SWOT Analysis for Small Business Planning

Develop a Comprehensive Action Plan

In today's tech-driven economy, it is crucial for business owners to adapt to the new growing marketing trends each year. Online sales have been on the rise for years, and 2015 is sure to follow suit. In 2014, online retail sales on Cyber Monday alone reached 2.04 billion U.S. dollars, so now is the time to make sure your website is as visible and as user-friendly as possible for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

This is also the time to go in and double-check that all of your pages and links are working properly. Though this is always important, a disconnected link can cost you valuable revenue during the high-sales traffic of Cyber-Weekend.

In addition to simply making your site a great shopping experience for your customers, another great way to drive loads of new business to your website is through paid search tactics, such as Google AdWords. Investing in paid search allows your website to be placed at the top of the search results for the specific keywords you want to be associated with. This investment should easily pay for itself during the Black Friday - Cyber Monday shopping spree. 

Don't miss out on the loads of customers who prefer mobile shopping; at one point during Cyber-Weekend 2014, mobile traffic exceeded 50 percent of all U.S. online traffic. By making your website mobile-friendly, or even simply creating a few mobile landing pages for your holiday sales, you can tap into the profit stream that retailers experienced last year.

Plan and Prepare a Coordinated Direct Marketing Strategy

In addition to online and mobile advertising, reaching out to your customer base is an essential part of establishing an effective action plan. Direct marketing also provides a great opportunity to begin easing your customers into the holiday shopping frame of mind. The more often your business name pops up in front of them, the more likely they are to think of you when deciding what to buy and where to buy it.

One of the best ways to keep your name in front of potential customers is through email. When customers think of Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping, most of the time they don't even know what they are looking for yet, but they do know that paying full-price is unthinkable. One survey of Black Friday consumers performed by Wanderful Media discovered that 82 percent wanted to get Black Friday sale email updates, and 58 percent wanted to get updates through mobile.

By offering incentives to customers who are willing to join your email list, such as "Exclusive Cyber Monday Deals" or "Deep Discounts Delivered Daily", you give yourself the opportunity to keep your business name in the front of their mind. While email marketing can often be considered passe in a world filled with other exciting mobile opportunities, it is important to remember that for every dollar spent on email marketing, retailers on average see a return of over $44. If you have no been collecting email addresses from your customers up to this point, consider adding it into the checkout process now to ensure you have individuals to contact as the holiday season draws near.

When promoting your holiday specials, whether on your website, through email, or via mailings, a custom, holiday-themed version of your logo can be a nice added touch. Giving your company logo a festive face lift is easy and inexpensive, and it is a great way to catch the attention of both new and existing customers.

Remember that, though direct marketing tends to be on a mass level, it shouldn't be impersonal. When you are addressing new potential customers, make sure to keep your tone warm and familiar. Be careful to ensure that your email stands out from the typical mass email. Taking a small amount of time to make your message unique will keep it from being deleted. When you address an existing customer, be sure to lend a personal touch to your communication, such as following up on their purchase, or offering a special discount directly connected to their receipt.

If you currently have a small customer base, you could even take this one step further by actually sending a handwritten card through the mail. Little personal touches like these are sure to make an impression and are even likely to gain some word-of-mouth advertising for you.

Improving Your Store Layout and Optimizing Your Inventory

When embarking upon their holiday shopping, most customers are in a buy-happy mode. They're in the holiday spirit and ready to purchase. Make the most of this! Your store's floor plan dictates which products are most visible to the customers. Moving displays around lends a fresh look to your entire store, and adding a few new eye-catching "centerpiece" displays will help boost sales on key products.

When arranging your displays and shelves, plan ahead for the register lines. Not only is it important to leave enough space to accommodate long check-out lines, but these lines offer a great opportunity to gain a few more sales. A few strategically placed displays of smaller, less expensive gift items are perfect for grabbing those last-second impulse buys.

Optimize your storage space by discounting the last of your summer items (and whatever else you may find hidden in there) early. By taking the opportunity to clear out and organize your storage area, you will give yourself the needed space to stock up on the key products that are likely to be your highest sellers over Black Friday Weekend. Don't miss out on sales because you didn't have the space for a large enough inventory to meet demand.

Related Article: The Ultimate Holiday How-to for Social Media Promotion

Proactively Hire and Train Seasonal Staffers

Whether you have a retail store, a website, or both, it is important to be adequately staffed with well-trained employees throughout the holiday season. Pushing for a rush of holiday sales without preparing for the rise in customer needs will only set you up for disappointment.

Hiring a few extra employees to help handle the crowds will make sure that each customer has the personal service needed to make their experience with you a pleasant one. Be careful to make these staff additions early enough for adequate training. A multitude of employees who haven't had time to learn the ropes will only lead to chaos, especially when you experience the seasonal rush.

When it comes to boosting your holiday sales numbers, a small amount of preparation can go a long way. Implementing these few simple techniques are a great way to ensure the best possible holiday shopping season for your business.

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