Thanks to COVID-19, what we typically think of the holiday rush will look a bit different this year.
Don’t expect a massive crush of humanity swarming your local stores to pick up that $149 big-screen television. Instead, many Americans will look to do their holiday shopping from the comfort of their own home. That doesn’t mean that retailers are writing off the 2020 holiday shopping rush most may plug their e-commerce sites, even more, this year. With 2018 producing holiday season retail e-commerce figures at $119.54 billion, many are expecting the same this year, maybe even more.
Here are some helpful tips that will allow your business to prepare for the coming holiday rush.
Have Your Marketing Team Ready To Go
The pillar for running a successful retail business is marketing. How else can a customer see the deals that your business as if they don’t know there are deals to be had? This is where your marketing team comes in, and you have to get them ready and fired up for a season that is much as unique as it is challenging.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way retailers do business, and it’s even changed how retailers market to customers. For your business to have a successful holiday, consider mobile marketing solutions that will get the word out there to market your holiday deals. This holiday season is going to be challenging, but for those who can be creative with their marketing, this season will pay off handsomely.
Outsource Your Customer Support
This year has been one heck of a challenge for your business, with customers few and far between and profits hard to come by.
While big retailers like Walmart and Home Depot have had banner years, smaller retailers have been in the lurch. That has led to many small businesses doing something they previously never would have thought of: Outsourcing.
As small businesses head what could be a make-or-break holiday season, it may be best to outsource certain aspects of your business so that you can save on the margins, creating more money that can be invested elsewhere like marketing. One way your business that you can easily outsource is customer support, which can be handled by a call center that built its existence to providing that type of service.
Outsourcing voice hosting duties to a call center should be a priority, especially if you’re watching your budget more carefully. You should be able to strike a budget-friendly contract with an outside vendor for your customer support services.
Outsourcing customer support will also save you money on business phone systems, as your phone lines will be freed up to make decisions regarding your business for the holiday rush.
Order Those Holiday Supplies
Before the coming of the holiday rush, make sure you have the supplies needed to handle the rush.
Check your order from last year to see what you will need this year. If 2020 has given your business any hints, it could be less than in 2019, when things were normal. You may have savings in supplies this year because of the slower retail climate.
With so many customers are projected to do their shopping from home, you may not need so many paper towels and toilet paper for your bathrooms or wrapping paper for your brick-and-mortar store. While you may be able to save on those expenses, you may need to bulk up on shipping supplies for the expected jump in online sales for the holidays.
Regardless of if you’re gearing up for in-person shopping on shipping products online, have the supplies ready to deal with the crush of the holiday rush.
Make Sure Your Website Is Lightning Fast
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of customers are planning to shop from the comforts of their own homes this holiday season.
While this trend has been ongoing for at least a decade now, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many more consumers to the world of online shopping. That presents a unique challenge for retailers, especially small retailers, who rely on in-person traffic for the holiday season, but now have to re-tool their business to be more internet-focused.
For the 2020 holiday rush, partner up with a website design company to re-design your website so that it can handle the onslaught of shoppers who will be shopping from home. No customer likes a clunky, slow website, so take the time now to look at your website and contract a professional to spiff it up and make it fast.
Make Sure Your Equipment Is Well-Maintained
It’s pretty hard to run a small business during the holidays with equipment that is giving your constant trouble.
Not only that, but it will drive customers away, something that no small business can afford this holiday season. So now is the best time to contact an equipment specialist to come in and look at your equipment to ensure that it’s ready for the most important shopping season of the year.
Bring Your Social Media A-Game
While there will be customers who won’t break the holiday tradition of shopping in-person, there is much reason to believe that many will forego the in-person shopping experience and do their holiday shopping from home.
We’ve already discussed how your website should be optimized to run at a high level, so now it’s time to talk about your social media game, which should be in top shape for this shopping season. Facebook and Instagram will be important for social media vehicles to increase your business. Use the social media giants to post gift ideas, promote new products that you have instore, and deals that you will be running just for the holiday season.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be great tools to utilize and drive customers to your business. If you’re doing any temporary hiring for the season, consider hiring a worker who has extensive knowledge on how to use social media to the advantage of your business.
Your social media A-game will be very important this holiday season.
Make Sure Your Displays Are Nice And Not Naughty
There will be some customers who will still prefer to shop in-person for the holidays, so while you’re busy getting your digital store ready, don’t ignore your physical store as well.
Check your displays and decorations to see if they’re up and ready to go. Make sure your store is organized and not cluttered. Also, make sure that your store is easy to navigate for customers. Your physical store should be ready just in case you have an uptick in in-person shopping this holiday season. No customer wants to visit a store that’s been more naughty than nice this year.
Have Your Backup Systems Ready
The holiday season is a very special time of the year when happiness filling the air and shoppers gearing up to empty their wallets in stores large and small to put presents under the tree.
While you’re envisioning the sweet sound of your register dinging constantly, don’t forget that this is the winter season, and along with that joyfulness comes about of winter weather. Snows and ice storms have the power to knock out electricity for some time, and without lights, it will be hard to sell your products. Make sure that you have a backup power source ready to go just in case the weather knocks out the power. Now would be a great time to invest in a generator that can keep the lights on and the cash register dinging even during a snowstorm.
Make Sure Your Store Is Warm And Toasty
You don’t have to be told that it will feel like an ice chest outside during the holiday season.
No holiday shopper wants to shop in a cold store, so make sure that your heating unit is working the way it should so that it will stay warm and toasty in your store for the holidays. HVAC services can come out and inspect your heating unit to ensure there are not any problems with your heating unit.
Of course, repairing the heating unit will be pretty pointless if your store or office building has poor insulation. Bad insulation will allow the warm air to escape your building, so contact a roofing service to check the roof to see if there is any damage that needs to be repaired. Also, check your windows to ensure there are not any drafts coming into the business. If so, contact a professional to do window glass repair to keep the cold air out.
Make Out Those Holiday Schedules
In some parts of the country, you may not have a choice as to how long you can stay open for the holidays.
Some municipalities have instituted business restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The problem with these restrictions is that it could put a damper on your holiday profits. Businesses stay open later to accommodate the large number of customers that do their shopping during the holidays. Now, that may not be the case, depending on where your business resides.
Now that that’s out of the way, you should still craft a holiday schedule to determine how long you will be open to accommodate shoppers, especially in markers where business restrictions are less stringent or completely non-existent. Make sure that you let your staff and customers know of your holiday schedule and make that schedule so that you can maximize your holiday profits.
Make Sure The Parking Lot Is Safe
As is always the case during the holidays, the more shoppers who are out and about spending money on gifts, the more opportunity Grinch-like characters and events have to spoil your holiday.
Safety is a top concern among many holiday shoppers, not just in crime, but in general safety as well. In colder climates, you will more-than-likely be dealing with snow and ice, so make sure your business’ parking lot is shoveled and plowed so that customers can navigate it safely. Also, make sure your vinyl railing is de-iced and safe for customers to grab and shovel and salt the walkways.
In addition to those safety features, make sure that your parking light is well-lighted so that it will be a deterrent to pickpocketers who are looking for an opportunity to spoil the holiday spirit.
Do A Holiday Test Run
Before you open your doors open for the holiday rush, this could be a great time to test out your gameplan before the season begin.
Test out some holiday deals beforehand to see how much reach they get. If it doesn’t get the reach you desire, you will have time to tweak the campaign before the test truly begins. Give yourself at least a two-month window before the shopping season truly begins to see if your store is ready for the holiday season. Again, giving your business this time will allow you to see what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do to make changes to the system so that you can be ready for the holidays.
In the end, the holiday season is an important barometer for the success of your business. For many small businesses, the holiday shopping season can make-or-break a business. No time is that ever-critical than now as the pandemic has wrecked all sorts of havoc on small businesses across the country, cutting into profit margins and driving away customers.
It’s been bad, for sure, but having a great holiday rush plan could be the cure to those 2020 ills. Make sure your marketing game is strong. Put more focus on your digital experience to put the business in a position to capture the shop-from-home audience. Create a catchy and effective marketing campaign that will remind customers of your business magic and utilize social media to drive that point home.
Yes, it has been a surreal year in the small business world, but if you use these steps, you can bring a sense of normalcy to your business for the holidays.
The Grinch has already stolen most of your business this year, but the holidays are your time, and it’s time to go out and make the most of it.