If you make the vast majority of your revenue over the holiday season...it game time. Now is the time to be thinking about a few top tasks to make sure you are ready for a rush of customer and have backups resources for everything. Proper planning prevents poor performance. You should be considering things like what you need to stock up on to fill your holiday orders. You also want to organize your marketing plans now. How much budget will you set aside for Google Adwords, Instagram and Facebook ad campaigns. If you are a strictly local business, do you have direct mail offer ready to print. There's also regional cables ads, radio remotes or getting your invites ready to host an open house. if Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, or the day after Christmas are peek business times here are a few things that you'll need to have in place to make your cash register sing this holiday seasons.
Talk With Your Vendors: Start communicating with your manufacturers and distributor partners about your holiday plan. Make sure you have a back-up for your main supplier in case they are backed up with other customers. Manufacturers may hire temporary help too for the holidays, so if you have a product that requires a high-level of detail, you may want to order product early.
Order Inventory Early: Inventory shortages are real issue at holiday time. Look at what your sales were last holiday season to determine what items you need to have in place. Order your packaging, branded shipping boxes and raw materials in advance. Be sure to order extra too. You could be one media mention away from completely being sold out, but that's a good problem to have.
Contact Your Creditcard Processor: If your sales boom over the holidays, you need to make sure that your credit card processor provides a daily limit high enough to process all of the transactions. You might just be fortunate enough to be selling the hot Christmas toy which will generate huge sales, and could shut down your shopping cart.
Line Up Your Seasonal Workers: If you hire for seasonal help, its time to contact those people to plan to bring on. You want to have everyone you need in advance, even your interns. Develop FAQs for phone inquiries, and use step-by-step guides with pictures so that your brand is not damaged by any of your temporary worker. Anyone can stuff a box, so don't be afraid to enlist your family, neighborhood kids, and friends to help get you through the holidays. But do yourself a favor, train them properly before the rush hits.
Layout Packaging Options Now: If your packaging is signature to your brand, set up everything that you can in advance so that you "WoW" the customers with their holiday orders. Get as much ready ahead of time, before the orders start coming. You want to protect your brand so your quality does not suffer in the holiday rush.
Determine End of YEAR Discounts: Figure out now what specials you want push for this holiday season. These are major shopping holidays. You might want to develop special product bundles just for those days, or offer special pricing on your biggest selling items or volume discounts as well.
Develop Your Holiday Shipping Policy: You can offer free shipping which is great marketing idea as shipping costs are one of the top reasons customers abandon shopping carts. This only works if you can find a way to absorb the cost of shipping in your product costs. You could offer (free shipping from Black Friday through Christmas). Offer a flat rate on shipping for purchases of two or more items. You need to make sure you know the average shipping cost of packages at different weights, so that you don't lose your shirt with this. You can also do a direct pass through on shipping. In other words, you can charge what you're charged: This is an expensive strategy, but you won't lose too much on shipping.
Get Shipping Options in Place: Know when you need to have your items ready to ship so they arrive before Christmas. Figure out your best shipping options. Depending on the volume you ship, you should contact your account rep to see if there are any discounts being offered for the holidays. If you belong to a trade organization or association, you may qualify for a discount with express shippers such as FedEx. You can also set up a USPS click-and-ship account so that they will pick up orders from your home or office. You also want to automate as much about your shipping process as possible. Look at options such as Shipstation.com so that you can simplify shipping labels.
The holiday shopping season, is serious business no matter what you sell. It's time to put something on sale in your business, so that you'll be set for the new year sitting on a pile of cash. Make your holidays merry and bright. Planning ahead along with smart marketing will deliver amazing results for your holiday sales.
How are you preparing for your holiday sales?
This was originally published as How to get your business ready for the holiday shopping season on www.succeedasyourownboss.com