With 2023 just around the corner, the time to start preparing for the holiday season is now. The way you run your small business during the holidays can make or break your end-of-the-year revenue and determine whether you start the new year strong. Competing to make sales with big names and brands can seem impossible, but taking a page out of the big box retailer holiday strategy will be your ticket to the top!
There are a lot of strategies you can adopt as your own, and the best ways to stand out are staying organized with your inventory, preparing for additional staff, bolstering your e-commerce game, and providing personalized customer service.
If you’ve ever wondered how larger retailers can achieve such high levels of sales during the holiday season, the answer often lies in their inventory management and organization techniques.
Your small business may not be ready for the inventory levels that larger retailers have had years to prepare and adapt for; but having a go-to system in place before your sales volume increases will help you and your staff stay on top of sales.
You may be overwhelmed with the idea of having the perfect inventory system ready to go, but the first step in creating an efficient system should be to look at your business’s past trends and sales goals. This strategy helps you determine a ballpark for the inventory you should carry higher stock of. Integrating a SKU system can help with tracking automation and keep the inventory you’ve yet to display organized and easily accessible.
A challenging aspect of inventory management can be dealing with last year’s inventory. Dedicate time to take inventory of your products to help you manage expectations for hitting sales goals and determine where you should focus your marketing efforts.
Evaluating your inventory can be a daunting task if you plan to do it alone, but assigning certain areas of your inventory storage to your staff so each member of your team is responsible for counting a small part, can save you time and eliminate any miscalculations.
A big step in preparing your business for holiday hours is hiring additional staff. Larger companies can achieve higher customer satisfaction during the holidays because they can bring on seasonal staff to support their team. Adding more employees to your payroll during the holidays can be tough on your finances, but extra hands can make a difference to your workflow and give you an advantage during busy times. Seek out additional funding to cover expenses that may arise during the search for employees, onboarding, training, and payroll stages. This financial buffer can provide you peace of mind as you head into the holiday season!
The process of hiring additional staff should be different from that of hiring nonseasonal staff. Make sure to include a clear start and end date for the job listing you’re creating. The time to start your search should be as soon as possible, as it’ll take time for new employees to get acclimated to the role and accustomed to the heavier workload that typically comes with the season.
Use your local community as an advantage in your search. Many people that will be looking for seasonal employment can be college students or older adults looking for ways to provide for their families during the holiday time, so it’s important to be sensitive about scheduling. Letting people know in advance that they’ll have to work specialized hours ahead of time will allow your employees some flexibility to adapt to their prior commitments and can be a great management technique.
The e-commerce business model has exploded since the pandemic and bigger retailers have taken notice. For your small business to stand out amongst the millions of other small businesses and larger retailers utilizing e-commerce as a sales booster, you should make sure your website is optimized for large amounts of traffic.
Brand visibility is everything in the e-commerce space, especially with the rise of impulse shopping; so, you’ll want to make sure you have a shopping cart system that’s easy to navigate and will help shoppers carry through with their purchase. Customers will shy away from your website if pages load too slowly and your website isn’t equipped to handle the seasonal traffic.
A lot of bigger retailers have already updated their websites with seasonally themed banners to alert people of their holiday deals and implemented discounts their customers can look forward to. Creating a seasonal campaign for online shopping experiences will catch the eye of online shopping browsers and show people that your business is paying attention to what’s on the minds of shoppers, as well as the competition.
Larger retailers may be able to provide customers with better deals, but many people would rather support the shop local and small business movement during this time. With that in mind, it’s ok to lean into the shop small mentality in your e-commerce space.
Providing quality customer service that makes your customers feel seen, heard, and understood should be a large component of your holiday strategy. A little more than 40% of shoppers prefer to shop small because they receive better customer service than with larger businesses. This statistic can be attributed to the large number of retailers that have automated their customer service with phone systems or chatbots, resulting in customers becoming less satisfied with their shopping experiences. This is just another way your small business can pick up the slack left by bigger retailers.
Maintaining an active presence on social media encourages your audience and customer base to interact with your business and gives them the opportunity to participate in your business’s core values. This can also help them feel a sense of community surrounding your brand. Responding to comments in real-time and offering timely assistance can bring customer loyalty to a new level, which can last far beyond the holiday season.
Customer service doesn’t just have to be online. In-store customer service is just as important and can be as simple as greeting people as they walk through the door or striking up a conversation. Making sure your staff is friendly and approachable when someone is in need of help can go a long way, as larger stores no longer offer these kinds of services. Understand the needs of your customers and they’ll appreciate the service you provide them.
Now that you know the secrets big box retailers use to increase their holiday needs, you’re ready to execute your holiday business plan. By taking the time to prepare for all aspects of the holiday rush, your small business can hit the ground running today!
Keetria is an entrepreneur, wellness advocate, and brand strategy coach for creatives & entrepreneurs with 16 years of public relations expertise working with some of the world’s leading brands, startups, media personalities, and entertainers. If you want to work together, don’t hesitate to reach out!