The holidays are generally busy for businesses, often leading to the entire year’s highest profit margins. Autumn brings a new school year and Halloween, Hannukkah, Christmas, and the New Year. But the holidays don’t have to be sink or swim. By preparing for them in advance, your business can better handle the onslaught of orders and shipping chaos while increasing profits.
Before getting started, ask yourself what kind of customer you are hoping to attract and what your business can offer around this time of year that may be unique compared to other, similar businesses. What would you like your branding to reflect on your business’s values and goals at this time of year? Consider what your customers are looking for in a product like yours. What do your products offer? Lastly, what kind of timeline are you looking to achieve with your holiday campaign? Use October and early November to polish your campaign and steel up your business for the holiday rush.
Here are five-holiday business tips from Clothing Shop Online on how to prepare your small business for the holidays:
1. Get Organized
As pressure increases on shippers to deliver on-time in an increasingly digital world, there are several steps that you need to take to reduce potential holiday turbulence.
a. Create a holiday promotion calendar and shipping schedules.
Either in Google Spreadsheets or Excel, create a print-out of shipping schedules from different providers so that you can quickly calculate weight and rush-fees across the country and any other shipping details that might increase your bottom line. Additionally, create a separate print-out of a holiday promotion calendar that tracks different campaigns that you’re running. Enter both schedules into your Google Calendar, which you can link with your cell phone so that you not only receive automatic updates. But, always have crucial information at your fingertips so that you’re not wasting any time when you’re trying to figure out if you’ve covered your bases.
b. Scheduling social media posts
The fabulous thing about Google Calendar, or even a calendar print-out, is that you can combine all of your schedules within one calendar by creating separate events in different colors. Considering when you’d like to schedule your social media posts ahead of time, and you’ll save yourself time.
Enter your social media posts into a social media post manager so that you can automate your posts ahead of time as you get busier. This way, you’ll be able to stay on top of your digital marketing campaign, whether you’re marketing on Instagram or Facebook when you have tons of orders to fill.
c. Define how you are going to communicate with your customers during this time
To better clarify here, what lines do you need to draw? Would you like your clients to reach you immediately by phone, or would you prefer to answer them by email or DM? The latter approach affords you the ability to document all correspondence in real-time if disputes arise. On the other hand, answering phone calls offers you a more personal approach. Remember that personal calls can be time-consuming and, if you’re a one-person business, can be challenging to stay on top of – especially if you receive more phone calls than you can keep ahead of while filling orders.
2. Start Early
It’sIt’s tempting, but leaving things for the last minute could cost you not only potential customers and positive reviews but also eat into your valuable personal life. We have only one life to live, so consider how you’d like to balance your calendars to accommodate all of your business and personal needs.
a. Account for shipping times, inventory restocks/supply deliveries, etc.
Consult the spreadsheets and calendars you’ve created for your campaigns to plan your inventory restocks, as well as replenishing any raw materials you may need if you sell out. Start at least a month out, if not more, to prepare your small business for the holidays. For instance, if you’re concerned about Black Friday, starting around Thanksgiving, start implementing your plan. The earlier, the better so that you can fine-tune any kinks and consider potential issues.
3. Stock Up Your Inventory
Estimating how many raw materials and popular store items (for instance, t-shirts in specific colors and sizes) can be challenging.
a. Know your popular store items
Create a list of popular items and shipping times from your suppliers so that you can better understand what gaps you may need to fill when orders are flying.
b. Stock inventory and materials
Wherever you stock your items, make sure your merchandise is well-organized and easily visible so that you don’t stress about pumping out orders. Keep an evolving spreadsheet of items so that you know how much you have stocked at any given time. In this way, you won’t risk having too much inventory after the holidays are over. If you’re concerned about tariffs or supply shortages, you can stock some minimal supplies if you have the resources and storage space.
4. Remember Important Shopping Days
With Thanksgiving around the corner, businesses are preparing for Black Friday, which includes Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday. Cyber Monday is quickly replacing Black Friday and extending deals well after Thanksgiving. Luckily, Small Business Saturday is now sandwiched in between, giving small retailers more visibility.
5. Update Your Social Media
Your holiday marketing strategy should reflect your branding. Whether you choose Instagram, Facebook, or other social media outlets, your message should reflect your business’s mission.
Creating holiday graphics
You can feature holiday graphics inspired by your logo in the signature of your holiday business emails and across your media for consistency. Feature your products alongside holiday décor with a neutral background, preferably photographed outside, for the best-lit photos. Emphasize shipping deadlines or details about sales where appropriate.
a. Having giveaways
Implement charitable marketing for a certain amount that clients spend. Studies show that donating part of your holiday business sales to charity not only supports your community but also drives more sales. Donate your products to causes that are important to you. Or find a non-profit organization for which you could make a limited edition product to giveaway. Invite your followers to tag a friend and like a post. This not only drives likes but also brings more attention to your business. Free products act as emotional triggers that also reflect urgency, incentivizing your customer to act.
b. Giving customers who follow you a discount
Periodic discounts, especially around the holidays, help close the deal for many customers who’ve been waiting all year to take advantage of the best deals. Use your social media or, if you have your website, invest in developing an email marketing campaign to email discount offers to your subscribers.
The holidays don’t have to be as stressful for you or your small business if you prepare ahead of time with these holiday tips from Clothing Shop Online!