It’s almost that time of the year again! The holiday season is edging forward, and with it comes the need to think about how to prepare your business for sales in order to enjoy a big uptick.
Small businesses make the majority of their money from around Halloween to New Year’s. With holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas peppered in between these two holiday season bookends, you should start preparing now for the holiday sales coming up.
On average, consumers spend around $1,000 during the holiday sales seasons. This is a figure that has been steadily rising over the past decade.
Even during the 2008 Great Recession, the amount people spent over the holidays only dipped slightly. While it’s likely that there will be a similar dip this year due to the pandemic, it’s still going to be a major chunk of the annual sales your business makes.
In fact, between 20%-40% of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retail businesses occur during the last 3-4 months of the year.
The outcome of COVID19
With COVID-19 very likely having an effect on holiday sales coming up, a large number of SMBs are turning to sell more online than ever before. The shift toward online shopping happened sometime in March, and increased every month since then.
Studies say that it takes anywhere from two weeks to a couple of months for consumer behaviors to change. With all the talk of the “new normal” you should anticipate that this major shift toward online shopping will become permanent.
How do you prepare your business for sales that will occur during the holiday season? We’ve got some helpful tips that will help you to position your small business in the best way, so you can take advantage of all the holiday spending that will be going on.
1. Determine and Set Seasonal Goals
There are plenty of holidays to choose from. Instead of spreading yourself too thin, select the holiday sales your company will be investing in. If you think that you will benefit the most from Black Friday sales, focus on that holiday sale. If it’s Christmas, put your attention on that one instead.
Speaking of spreading yourself too thin, you’re probably going to find it becomes more challenging to stay productive during the holidays. Yet, this is the time that will require the most of your time and attention out of the entire year! The holiday season is your cash cow, so make sure that you are firing on all cylinders and running at your peak level of performance and productivity.
If you have a business that is mostly, or entirely online, then it makes the most sense for you to lock in on Black Friday or Cyber Monday to grab the attention of your customers and audience.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar store that has local customers, then Thanksgiving is a great holiday to put your energy toward. It will show your local community how thankful you are by offering them generous discounts. It all depends on how you want to frame the holiday season and which one works best for your type of business.
What to Avoid:
Avoid trying to celebrate all the holidays. Pick a few that make the most sense for your business to focus on, and plan them using your full attention.
2. Stock Up for the In-Coming Increase in Sales
If you think you know what to expect regarding your sales every month, then think again. The holiday season will see sky-high demand for your products and services compared to the rest of the year. That is why you should make sure that you have all the resources and inventory necessary to keep up with the demand. Make sure there will be ample availability for your customers.
You should also give out consistent information across all your communication channels, such as email and social media, to make sure your messaging is all the same. Sticking to the same coherent message will avoid any potential confusion down the road once things pick up for the holidays.
What to Avoid:
Avoid offering products or services that you do not have enough inventory for. If you end up having to cancel an order due to running out of it prematurely, you are unlikely to ever see that customer again. It gives off a sense of unprofessionalism that won’t be rewarded.
3. Use Social Media to Promote Your Brand
Create social media campaigns and come up with different kinds of ways that you can express your brand creatively. There’s plenty of great ideas you can source online, so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
It would be a good idea to decide which holiday events are the ones that you will offer discounts, coupons, gift cards, and giveaways for. For every social media campaign that you create, make sure they are unique and different from the rest. Let your creativity run wild! Have some fun with it so that you get more people engaged.
You should also pay special attention to your newsletter because it will be an incredibly effective marketing tool. Email still has the highest engagement rates and reach, so if you have built up a solid newsletter, you are able to use it to promote your brand. When you prepare your newsletter for the holidays, you all but guarantee that your sales will increase over the holiday season.
What to Avoid:
Avoid using the same banners and graphics from last year for this year’s holiday sales coming up. Also, avoid creating the same campaign for each event. If you do, customers are going to catch on, resulting in fewer sales for you.
4. Prioritize Your High-Value Customers
Every business has its high-value customers that either keep coming back to buy something or buy high-ticket items. Stay on top of your high-value customers and place most of your focus on them. These could even be people who have never purchased anything from you before, but they are your niched down target audience that is the most likely to buy something from you.
People who have already bought something from you have a high likelihood of coming back. That’s why you should offer them an excellent deal, coupon, or discount on something. Also, you want to make sure that their buying experience is top-notch. It’s very likely that they will pass on the info to their friends, family, and co-workers.
What to Avoid:
Avoid trying to target everyone. Attempting to use a broad net will lead to actually getting fewer sales than if you were to become very focused on your target audience. If you try to target everyone, all you’re going to do is end up losing a whole lot of sales during this critical holiday season.
5. Conduct A/B Testing and Set Up Alternatives
Altering and updating your web pages, product listings, and service packages take time. That’s why you want to stay away from putting updates off until the last minute. When you scramble to make last-minute changes, you may end up waiting too long and lose potential sales.
Things seldom go as planned because there are a lot of moving parts. That’s why you should have multiple alternatives. This means providing your customers with a few different ways to access your products and services. You should also offer multiple payment methods. You don’t want to lose sales because you didn’t set up your Stripe payment method correctly!
Split testing, or A/B testing, is another helpful strategy to take advantage of to prepare your business for sales. This involves having two versions of the same web page and seeing which one leads to more sales. You can use a heat map as well, which will show exactly where customers are clicking and looking.
What to Avoid:
Avoid waiting too long before updating product pages, web pages, and service packages. The longer you wait, the more potential sales you lose to not being prepared.
The end-of-year holiday season is rapidly approaching. That means you should prepare your business for sales to skyrocket. If you’re not ready for the influx of customers, you may end up losing out on sales you could have had.
The tail end of the year, from Halloween all the way to New Year’s and Boxing Day, is when you can expect most of your sales to come through. That means everything needs to be ready and done properly.
Even with COVID-19 leaving millions unemployed, there has been a massive shift toward online shopping. This has led to small business sales for businesses selling online to sharply increase.
If you’re a small business and you want to get a slice of that sales pie, then you should follow the tips laid out in this article. When you do, you will have your best year yet. It’s not too late to get going on this, so get started on preparing for the holiday sales coming up today!