The holiday shopping season is in full swing – is your business ready? This is a busy time of year for our customers in many industries, which means extra revenue but also extra stress. Even if things got hectic before you were really prepared, there’s still time to put together a holiday game plan to help you keep the chaos in check. Do these five things to get ready, even if you do nothing else.
1. Get Your Website in Fighting Form
You’ll likely see a big upswing in website traffic during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready to handle the load. The holidays are frantic for everyone, and customers won’t wait around for your website to load – they’ll just go somewhere else. If your site has gotten bogged down with large photos and flashy graphics, now is a good time to clean house. Consider talking with your hosting provider as well to see if upgrading your package could speed things up. If you sell your products or services in an ecommerce store, consider hiring a developer to spruce up the place and make adjustments to the look and feel to help customers find their way around.
2. Keep Excellent Records
Even if you don’t use a fancy CRM system, keeping track of your customers and their purchases is especially important during the holiday season. With business booming, it’s tempting to skip some of the best practices you know you need to do – resist the urge! Like it or not, “returns season” is coming as well-meant gifts make their way back to the store with their sheepish recipients. Knowing exactly who bought what is essential to keeping spirits bright well into the new year.
3. Make Sure Your Team is Ready
Now is the time to prepare your team to tackle the holiday rush. Review store procedures and policies, especially if you are running any seasonal discounts or other promotions. Make sure everyone understands the details of these offers thoroughly so they can confidently discuss them with customers. Let your employees know there may be longer hours, extra shifts, and other surprises in store, and ask them to help each other handle the extra craziness. If you hire seasonal help, make sure you allot plenty of time to train new employees so they are ready to hit the ground running.
4. Manage Inventory and Shipping
If this isn’t your first year in business, you probably have at least some idea of what products and services sell well during the holidays. Stock up on those! If you anticipate a hot new item also selling well, get some more just in case. It’s better to end up with a few extra units of an item than to have to order more on the fly or, even worse, tell a customer you are all sold out. If you’re selling items via your ecommerce store, set clear shipping expectations and stick to them. Everyone gets busy this time of year, and last-minute shoppers will be clicking away right up until the bitter end. Clearly state when orders will arrive, and do everything in your power to stick to it. Nothing ruins Christmas cheer like a late package!
5. Make Sure Your Credit Card Processing is Good to Go
If you’re a 360 Payments customer, you’ve got this one covered already! If not, now’s a good time to get in touch with your credit card processing provider and review your account. Do you need to add a mobile terminal to give your staff more selling power on the floor? Are you confident you’ll get the support you need if your terminal goes down three days before Christmas? Your processing team should be standing by to make sure you’re ready to go. If you don’t think they’re up to the task, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website. We’re ready to help you have your best holiday shopping season yet.
PS – Thinking about launching a gift card program? There’s no time like the holidays!
PPS – Is this your first holiday shopping season? Don’t make these mistakes.