How Prepared is Your Small Business for the Holidays?

 

Consumer interest in holiday shopping is in evidence earlier and earlier each year. Therefore, it makes good sense for small businesses to have a well focused plan for taking full advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the holiday season. Traditionally, the holiday season starts the day after Thanksgiving, but smart small business owners start getting ready around Halloween.

Play to Your Strengths

Research shows that over 90 percent of consumers prefer to shop at small businesses if they can. To compete with the larger companies, small businesses must have innovative promotions that play to their strengths. That means stressing the uniqueness of your products with an added emphasis on superior customer service. According to surveys, 35 percent of holiday shoppers do most of their shopping in local stores, so stress your role in the community around the holiday season. But what about shoppers outside your local area?

Attracting Online Shoppers

The trend to shop online keeps growing every holiday season, making having a good company website absolutely essential to maximizing your holiday sales. Professionalism in both appearance and functionality is a must for your website, as consumers are suspicious of sites that don't seem to have high standards. They also expect some of the same experiences they have in real world shopping, such as holiday specials and cheap or free shipping. Test your website by buying on it yourself, so that you can spot anything that is hard to navigate or confusing. Also, be sure your website works well with mobile devices.

Be Ready for the Rush

Nothing is more frustrating than having a lot of customers but not being able to handle their business. Is your current staff capable of handling a lot more customers? That's something you need to consider before the customers start knocking on your real world and cyber doors. Stress the importance of impressing holiday customers with your service and holiday spirit. Ideally, a good holiday experience may cause them to become year-round customers.

Additional Tips

There are other things you can do to enhance your holiday sales. You can have special products, perhaps with a holiday theme, that you do not offer other times of the year. Another good idea is to offer incentives, such as percentage discounts or buy one get one free offers. If as a rule you don't advertise or send out mailings, perhaps around the holidays is when you should make an exception.

Special Expenses

The holiday can put your business under special financial stresses. Make sure you have the funds on hand for extra expenses. Also, don't forget your hard working employees and include funds in your holiday budget to reward them with a holiday bonus or staff party. The good will and loyalty it will encourage is worth the expense.

For small businesses, the holidays can be a time to make the money that will ensure your business thrives all year long. By following the above advice, you won't be caught unprepared for a potential holiday windfall.