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9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Sales

By Monique Danao Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Monique Danao
By Monique Danao Reviewed By Mike Lucas

The holiday season offers an opportunity to attract customers and increase profits for small businesses. 

Consider that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday have led to record-breaking sales numbers. 

Cyber Monday generated $10.8 billion in 2020 which makes it the busiest shopping day in U.S. history, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Black Friday came in second with online spend reaching $9 billion despite the economic downturn. Likewise, 56% of Small Business Saturday shoppers reported they purchased online from a small business on the day, according to American Express. 

These statistics may be astounding, but don’t expect to magically attract more customers on the day itself. If you want to benefit from the hype, you need to plan ahead of time. 

Let us help you prepare by sharing the most common tips to ace small business holiday sales.

There’s a small shop with a sign on the window that reads “Holiday Sale.”

1. Set Plans and Seasonal Goals

Create a robust sales and holiday retail marketing strategy. 

Begin by reviewing the results from previous holiday sales. Identify the top-selling products and use this information to decide on deals and inventory. 

Similar to marketing or sales campaigns, set realistic and attainable goals. Don’t focus solely on revenue. Consider other metrics such as social media engagement, conversion rate, customer lifetime value, and return on investment (ROI). While some of these metrics might not directly translate into profit, it’s still important to increase brand awareness and engagement with your target audience. 

In addition, invest in analytics tools to monitor metrics for current and future holiday sales initiatives. You also should monitor the holiday marketing and sales strategy of your competitors. If their previous holiday promotions led to a lot of fanfare, then adopt it in your own strategy, too. 

2. Order Extra Stock 

A few weeks leading up to the small business holiday sale mean less flexibility. As many businesses are scrambling to get more stocks, it could be difficult to replenish your inventory for on-demand items. 

Losing customers because of sold-out products can be devastating so determine the number of stocks you need. Take note of best-selling products or trending goods and order extra quantities. Ordering in bulk also gives you an opportunity to negotiate with vendors for additional discounts. 

3. Secure Sufficient Working Capital

Before the holiday season, small businesses may need extra cash to replenish their stocks and set aside funds for payroll and holiday bonuses. Updating your inventory can substantially decrease your working capital. Last-minute financing options such as personal loans and merchant cash advances could even rack up fees over time. 

The good news is, securing sufficient working capital ahead of time can help you afford stocks and pay debts quickly. Small business owners can secure a short-term loan or reach out to local community lenders or bankers. Legitimate financial institutions and lenders often offer reasonable terms and interest rates. However, be wary of predatory lending and ensure you’re aware of what you’re signing up for. 

Small businesses may have credit processing limits as stipulated by their merchant accounts. There’s nothing worse than failing to process credit card transactions during the biggest shopping event of the year. To accommodate all transactions, get in touch with payment processors to arrange higher credit limits. 

4. Market Products to Loyal Customers

Maximize revenue by focusing on your loyal customers. 

 A study by Bain & Co., cited in the Harvard Business Review, found that increasing customer rates by 5% increased revenue by 25% to 95%. Getting a new customer could even cost 5 to 25 times more than retaining an existing one. 

Not surprisingly, new customers are more likely to remain skeptical. In contrast, loyal shoppers already trust your business and will be more receptive to your marketing effort to focus on this customer segment. 

Create email marketing campaigns promoting gift guides, send personalized discounts, and bolster awareness for online sales. Leverage the purchase history of existing customers and use it to send personalized product recommendations or exclusive offers. 

Small businesses with loyalty programs can revamp their current incentives to encourage shoppers to use their points and make more purchases. 

5. Create an Editorial Schedule 

Content is king, but this is especially true during the holiday season.

To generate awareness for the sales event, create social media posts, publish blog posts and upload video content. 

The thing is, content creators, copywriters and graphic designers won’t come up with holiday promotion ideas on the fly. Marketing teams may need weeks or months to prepare content.

Create an editorial calendar to guarantee you’ll have ample content to reinforce your sales strategy. If you want to collaborate with influencers, then reach out months before to iron out the details and negotiate rates. As the holiday season approaches, modify your calendar and check up on deliverables to guarantee everyone on the team is on track. 

For example, West Elm’s “12 Days of Christmas” campaign featured limited-time offers that incite urgency. While this could be an effective way to attract publicity, it also requires planning ahead.

West Elm’s “12 Days of Christmas'' campaign featured limited-time offers that incite urgency.

6. Optimize Store 

Holiday sales will attract more traffic to your store but is your website capable enough to handle it?

Before the onslaught of customers, optimize your website and fix bugs. Peak small business holidays such as Black Friday can attract upward of 3 times more traffic than usual, so make sure that your website can handle at least a 200% bump in traffic. 

About 25% of small businesses estimate the per-hour cost of downtime is roughly $20,000 to $40,000 per while 26% believe the loss could amount to $10,000 to $20,000 per hour. However, the losses may be greater if downtime happens during holiday sales. 

Take for instance Gymshark, which crashed for eight hours during Black Friday. The fitness apparel and accessories brand estimates it lost  £100,000 (about $137,000) in sales. 

When your site lacks security, you could risk sensitive customer data and put customers at risk for fraud. Minimize this potential risk by conducting security checks, following the Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance regulations, and using end-to-end encryption. 

7. Update Order Policies

Holiday sales give you an opportunity to attract new shoppers to your online store. How do you encourage them to make a purchase? 

Update your order policy. Offer free or discounted shipping to incentivize first-time buyers. Add a special gift or freebies to make it more enticing. 

For example, online printing service Smartpress offers free paper sample books as a part of their onboarding process. Free samples are an effective incentive to convince potential customers to try a service.

Online printing company Smartpress offers free paper sample books as a part of their onboarding process.

8. Provide Exceptional Customer Service

The ongoing pandemic has led to a massive shift to online and ecommerce channels. When the pandemic ends, plenty of shoppers still will prefer online shopping for its speed and convenience. 

For a seamless shopping experience, train sales agents and support staff to efficiently address complaints. If you think you’ll be short on staff on the holiday itself, outsource sales reps to accommodate the onslaught of customers. 

9. Offer Competitive Shipping Options

Customers want packages to arrive quickly, especially during the end-of-year holidays. Most of the items bought could be gifts for loved ones so they must arrive on time. 

Since holiday sales mean a lot more orders, assess your shipping and delivery process. List down the steps involved in your shipping or fulfillment process and evaluate whether it is still relevant during the peak season. 

At the same time, recall how long it takes to complete each step and look for potential bottlenecks. Maybe you can save time by purchasing and printing multiple shipping labels in bulk. Fast-growing businesses can get in touch with a third-party logistics company for their shipping and warehousing needs. 

Speeding up the shipping and fulfillment process by a few minutes may not seem significant. However, it will make a difference when you’re handling dozens or hundreds of orders in a day. 

Brick and mortar stores can tap into local delivery service options within their community to speed up their service. Contemplate having an in-store pickup option that lets local customers save up on shipping costs. 

Time to Assess Your Holiday Sales Strategy

Now that you’ve learned some tips to prep your business for holiday company sales, it’s time to make it a reality. 

List down your top-selling products to predict which items need extra stock. Secure sufficient working capital to ensure reasonable interest rates and payment terms. Market products to loyal customers and offer incentives to first-time shoppers to close more deals. Optimize your website and fix bugs to avoid crashes during the biggest holiday sales of the year. 

Customers won’t snag your products if you don’t promote them. Create an editorial calendar and give your marketing team ample time to prepare promotional content. 

They say opportunities come to those who are prepared. So, if you want to make the most out of the holiday season, then devising a strategy ahead of time will be the key to success.

Monique Danao Monique Danao
Monique Danao is a contributing writer for Fast Capital 360. She writes about social media, content marketing, search engine optimization and ecommerce.
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