Now’s the time to start preparing for November’s most popular shopping weekend. Whether your customers are more likely to show up for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, they’re ready to shop. According to the National Retail Federation, 40% of customers start their holiday shopping even before Halloween. Investing in holiday preparedness helps you make the most of the long shopping weekend. Here are five ways to get started.
Identify Room for Improvement
Spend time assessing last year’s holiday season. Look at your sales numbers. Review your notes for recurring concerns, such as technical difficulties or issues with a shipping partner. Ask your employees what went well and where you could improve. Use data to identify what worked last holiday season, as well as what’s working now, and put a plan in place to solve priority challenges. Making data-driven decisions can help you direct limited resources to issues that most impact your bottom line.
Scale Up Your Staffing
There’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen come holiday time. Consider looking at your data from last year’s holiday season to see if you experienced staffing issues. Talk with existing employees or seasonal staff about schedules, coverage and expectations. If you need to hire and train temporary staff, do it early so they’re ready to go when shoppers start pouring in. Don’t forget that you’ll also need customer support staff. In a landscape where customer experience is everything, investing a bit more in your staff numbers and training reaps dividends to your revenue and profits.
Stress Test Your Website
Make sure your website is in top shape before the orders start rolling in. If your promotions go well and you have a flood of online visitors, can your current hosting plan support the volume? It’s also important to trial the purchase process and see if you need to make any improvements. Finally, examine your newsletter and social channels. Consider trying out processes that let you create content in batches and schedule posts ahead of time. That way, your digital marketing keeps moving forward even when you’re busy serving customers.
Evaluate Your Shipping Plan
Get your online business ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday by making sure your shipping infrastructure is ready to rock. For example, do you offer enough shipping options? Do you have a communication solution that can automate order confirmations, shipping updates and returns? Even if you don’t sell online, your in-store customers may want to have gifts shipped directly to their family members or friends. If you offer this service, streamline the shipping process before you send out that first order to ensure timely delivery.
Prepare Inventory and Cash Flow Support
You can’t sell inventory you don’t have on hand, so make sure you’re stocked to meet any customer demand. Black Friday and Cyber Monday often reveal breakaway successes that may mean the opportunity to capitalize on trends.
Many successful businesses have a two-pronged approach to inventory management. First, they order what they know they’ll need well in advance to have in-demand products on hand. Second, they arrange for a small business loan so they’ll have the resources needed to fund smooth operations during the holiday shopping season.
Your best step toward total holiday preparedness is thinking strategically in advance. For fast-growing stores, reaching customers during these high-spend times lets you build a robust cash cushion for the next year and fuel your business growth to a whole new level.