Preparing Your Retail Business for the Holiday Season: 5 Tips
The holidays represent retail’s busiest season and their best opportunity to make money. Although historians have debunked the tale that the term Black Friday originated because that’s when many businesses go from red to black, this period nevertheless represents a crucial period in your company’s ongoing viability.
Therefore, you must start planning well to maximize this valuable time. Here are five steps for preparing your retail business for the holiday season.
1. Get Your Logistics in Order
The holidays mean shipping. Even if you operate out of a storefront, you’re sure to have orders from out-of-towners looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind gift only you can deliver. However, winter weather can make travel hazardous for trucks, meaning you have to take extra steps to ensure no logistical snags leave your well-meant presents arriving after the big day.
If you have a dedicated fleet, it’s time to schedule comprehensive maintenance on your vehicles, including checking tire pressure and tread, headlight condition, battery strength and antifreeze. You may need to apply chains in some states like Colorado that require them on commercial vehicles.
If you outsource your delivery operations, check with your subcontractors early. Experts expect the continued upheavals at ports and warehouses during the pandemic to extend for several years. If your contractors need additional time to deliver goods that impact your operations, ensure you have adequate stock.
Another must — broadcast anticipated shipping times on your website. That way, your customers know when they must place their orders to get them delivered before the holidays.
2. Analyze Your Target Market
If you haven’t performed a comprehensive market analysis in some time, it’s wise to do so in the months leading up to the busy holiday season. You want to know who is most likely to purchase your goods and what motivates them to do so.
Eco-friendliness is a huge trend, as today’s generations realize only a collective effort will stop the worst ravages of climate change. What sustainability benefits do your products offer? Highlighting these could increase sales.
3. Stock Up for the Last-Minute Rush
Few things frustrate last-minute shoppers more than finding nothing but empty shelves as they scramble to find an acceptable gift. Although it’s dangerous to overstock and risk loss, you should analyze last year’s sales reports to ensure an adequate supply — particularly of best-selling items.
As signs show the nation and globe potentially hurtling toward a recession, let item price influence which ones you stock up on most. You may see greater demand for mid-priced items over the costlier bestsellers of a year ago.
The holidays are also a peak season for thieves. It’s easy for sleight of hand to go undetected amid the big crowds, so double-check your surveillance equipment and ensure all cameras remain in working order. If nothing else, the footage can help law enforcement locate the people responsible, potentially minimizing shrink.
4. Hire Additional Associates
You need adequate staff to ensure a pleasant customer shopping experience. Running your retail team ragged can result in justifiable complaints, mainly from exhaustion and burnout.
If you hope to find the best seasonal support staff, be transparent in your job advertisements. Refrain from using phrases like “career positions available” if you only anticipate roles remaining open for a few weeks. That way, you can recruit those who only want part-time seasonal work and avoid disappointing those in desperate need of full-time employment.
5. Keep Your Staff and Customers Safe
Local governments have lifted pandemic restrictions nearly everywhere. However, you still have a responsibility to do what you can to keep your customers and staff safe.
If you have immunocompromised team members, consider extending the use of masks and protective barriers for additional protection against infectious diseases. You can make face coverings optional, leaving a sanitation station and extra disposables at the entryway for conscientious shoppers.
Preparing Your Retail Business for the Holiday Season
The holidays are a make-or-break season for many retailers, so you should start your preparations well in advance. Follow the tips above to prepare your retail business for the holiday season. Here’s to your most successful quarter so far this year.
Meet The Blogger
Martin Banks grew up outside of Chicago and covers all things small-business related, as well as the world’s best hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks
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