The holiday season is practically upon us, and it’s coming sooner than retailers think.
Many consider Black Friday the official start of the holiday shopping season, but retailers shouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to maximize sales on Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day. The average consumer plans to spend $1,175 on holiday shopping this year, according to the Rubicon Project, making it a critical time for brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce sites to bring in as much revenue as possible.
To keep up with this intense shopping season, business owners are going to need more capital to maintain appropriate inventory and staff levels, in addition to launching new marketing campaigns. In fact, 59 percent of small business owners plan to borrow money this holiday season, according to a Business Insider report.This means owners should consider getting a small business loan to have enough cash to fund an increase in inventory, hire temporary staff and ramp up their promotional efforts during this busy retail period.
Don’t run out of supplies
Nothing will put a damper on retail sales faster than a “Sold Out” sign in a store’s front window. It won’t matter how many customers come through a business’ doors if there isn’t enough inventory to meet the demand. Retailers who fail to accommodate the burst of demand that inevitably comes with the last two months of the year will be missing out on a huge opportunity to make some money, which could be helpful later on if the store experiences a slow period. And research is showing that entrepreneurs are concerned about bringing in money during this pivotal time.
According to an Office Depot survey, 32 percent of small business owners view cash flow as their most pressing problem during this busy shopping season. For owners worried about keeping up with increased demand in November and December, it’s important to overestimate the amount of inventory you will need to make sure you never run out. If there are leftover products, retailers can always think of creative ways to sell them later.
Small business loans from alternative lenders are a great way for owners to get cash quickly to make preparations for this busy time. Unlike traditional banks that can take up to one month to issue an approval, alternative lending sources can get business owners the money they need to order more revenue in as little as 24 hours.
Don’t skimp on manpower
Another way to hurt holiday sales is through bad customer service. Consumers don’t want to endlessly wait in line to check out, or sit unattended if they have a question or concern about a product before purchasing. Having too few staff working in the store might lead to consumer walk-outs or bad word of mouth about a customer’s experience in the store. In addition to the boosted demand for products, it’s more than likely that business owners are going to need to hire temporary staff to deal with the bigger holiday crowds.
To avoid these pitfalls, managers should be ready to hire temporary staff to ensure that there will be an adequate number of team members working at all times. Target is planning to hire 70,000 temporary workers to accommodate the holiday rush this year, Fortune reported. And although your company probably isn’t as big as Target, it’s worthwhile for small businesses to follow the retail giant’s lead. In fact, 30 percent of small business owners believe that hiring temporary workers will benefit them this holiday season, according to the Office Depot survey.
This doesn’t just go for brick-and-mortar stores either. E-commerce businesses should consider beefing up the number of employees working in their warehouse and distribution centers to make sure that orders are packaged and shipped in a timely manner. Small business financing from an alternative lender is the easiest way to gather the money necessary to pay these extra workers.
Ramp up marketing efforts
Everyone loves a deal, especially during the holidays. To maximize the amount of traffic a business sees during these busy months, owners should invest heavily in merchandising and marketing efforts that draws in as many consumers as possible. This is also an opportunity to show customers who might not visit the store often what it can offer them.
To capitalize on this potential for new business, retailers need to ensure that they have the highest quality products, attractive merchandising displays and top-notch deals that will keep buyers coming back for more. The holidays are an ideal time to debut a new item at a discounted price to gauge consumer interest and introduce them to a product that could be sold in slower months as well.
Whatever your business strategy is for the end of the year, owners should examine the benefits of a small business loan to make sure they don’t miss out on sales opportunities during this boom time for retailers.