How to Prepare Your Business for the Christmas Period

With the end of the year fast approaching, businesses need to be getting ready for the holiday season and the mad retail rush to Christmas day.

25 November 2019 by Tanya Milazzi

Preparing for the end of the year is something all business should be planning for months even a year ahead. It can be one of the busiest times for small to medium-sized retail businesses, with around 20-40% of yearly sales occurring in the last two months of the year. Australian consumers are set to grow sales by 2.6%, spending over $52 billion this holiday season, $20 billion on gifts alone. Consumers will be splurging on food, household goods, decorations, hospitality and apparel for the upcoming holiday season. Your business needs to be organised, competitive, have enough stock and staff and make sure you embrace the festivities and make your customers feel valued. Whether you’re already putting the finishing touches on your preparations or just getting started, here are some reminders to check of your list in the coming weeks.

Planning out the next couple of months is the best way to tackle the upcoming festive season, organising for the next year can start as early as January 1st, it is important to set up strategies of how your business will endure the season differentiate what strategies worked last year and which ones did not. You will be able to focus all your resources and time on the strategies that worked, improving last years performance, and hopefully improve customer traffic and satisfaction. If you are getting ready for an increase in website traffic, make sure your servers can handle the increase and any updates are completed before the season starts. During this peak retail season, everyone will be looking for a bargain, keep tabs on your competitors and what strategies they are promoting for the season. Customers will be comparing and looking for the best deal so be ready to counter offer and compete for your customers, a great way to do this is by enhancing your Christmas marketing and adding value to your products.

Your business should Embrace the giving season and opt for deals where the customer feels that it is an act of kindness if you are an electrician offer a free safety check for Christmas lights or hand out flyers with “tips for putting up your Christmas lights”. Everyone will be looking for the best price and value for their money, start optimising for promotional keywords such as “sale” or “discount” to increase website traffic. Since it is the season of giving send out an e-card for Christmas to your customers offering special Christmas offers and discounts to bring them to your store before looking elsewhere. Bundling products and offering personalisation such as naming, or gift wrapping is a great way to embrace the festivities and enhance your customer’s experience. Offering free delivery with any online purchase will add value to your products and could sway customers to purchase from you rather than a competitor. Christmas shopping can be stressful, by creating a helpful and easy experience for the shopper will keep your business in mind for next year.

Competition is fierce during the holiday season so have your marketing strategies planned out ahead of time and ready to roll out as soon as possible. Put your business in the best position for the Christmas rush. You may need to increase your marketing budget to enable your business to compete with the competition. You want your store to stand out and be first to come up in google searches and stand out. A great way to optimise your website is by creating festive headings and promoting “gift ideas” and “Christmas bundles”. BOPIS is becoming extremely popular for online shoppers, with limited time over the holiday period consumers are wanting to research products and find the best products online, then pick them up in-store, this eliminates the wait for delivery times. Customers want the guarantee of the product there when they go to the store and be able to look at their purchase in-store, especially if it is a more expensive product, easing the customer’s mind.

With an increase in customer activity, your business needs to be ready with the appropriate inventory and make sure stock is organised. Double-check you have enough stock to last over the Christmas period and to last into the new year. If your business is offering special deals or personalisation such as gift boxes and wrapping hold the required stock to fulfil these promises, this may take some time to organise so start early. You can use last year’s data but also consider that there may be differences and if you are using new strategies and suppliers this data could be irrelevant. When organising stock and suppliers make sure you have considered boxing day sales and understand that some suppliers may be closed over the new year break.

Staffing can also be a nightmare as people may go away for the Christmas break and the increase in business activity may require you to hire more. Hiring over the Christmas period will take the stress out of doing it all yourself and putting your existing staff under pressure. Determine how many extra employees you will need and hire earlier rather than later as other businesses will be doing the same. Once you have acquired new staff ensure they are well trained and informed of all the Christmas promotions and understand all levels of the business, this will be a good time for existing staff to brush up on their knowledge and skills too. Cross-training staff will make the workdays easier and flow smoothly through the busy months as anyone will be able to help out where it is needed.

While you may be busy organising the behind the scenes of your business remember to keep your customers in mind. This is a great time to attract new customers and understand your target market better. Takedown new data and analytics for future marketing and next years strategies. With more traffic coming through your doors it will give you more opportunities to understand your customer needs and what strategies they respond to best. When completing a purchase many are happy to answer a few questions such as how they found your store and why they chose to shop here. Take advantage of the rush, connect with your customers and start creating relationships. By creating a shopping experience that is stress-free and easy will resonate with your customers and hopefully take new customers into the new year. You could also create gifts for new and existing customers such as calendars or diaries for the new year, throwing in a gift that they will use throughout the year means your business will constantly be in their view.

Lastly, if you choose to close over the Christmas and New Year break make sure your business is in order and that employees know in advance. Make sure your customers and suppliers are aware that you will be closing and inform them of your re-open day. A great idea is to set up message bots, on your website to reply to inquires while you are away. Make sure to mention when you will be back to respond to them. Preparing to close over the break also includes preparing to re-open in the new year, don’t leave everything to the last minute, re-open your business with everything ready to go so there is no chaos and stress when the time comes to re-open.

Having a business can make the end of year period the most stressful time of year, which can take the fun out of Christmas, being organised and prepared will enable you to enjoy the festivities with your customers and start the new year better than ever.