- Get supplier affairs in order: Your suppliers are going to be just as busy - if not busier - than you during the Holiday rush and shortly before it. You need dependable suppliers that are going to be able to handle the demand during this time. It's advised to reach out to your suppliers and have a conversation with them. Ask them how they handle the Holiday season and what their game plan is for this year. If you're having trouble during normal business operating times with your supplier I'd be weary of depending on them to come through in clutch times such as the Holidays. If you're not completely sold on your supplier or at least want to take a look at some backup options, check out one of our recommended wholesale directories to build your supplier network.
- Analyze current sales trends: Forecasting your sales for the Holiday season can be difficult but there are some general guidelines I tend to follow that always tend to work out for me. I always plan on sales increasing by approximately 4x the normal during the Holiday season. That's correct, 400%. It is estimated that Holiday sales typically account for 20-40% of the total retail sales during a normal year. Take a close look at your sales to date and see which items have been selling the best, which have the highest profit margin, and which items are easy to ship and have a low return rate. These are the items you're going to want to make sure you don't run low on because they'll continue to be your best sellers and least-stressful sales.
- Prepare marketing campaigns: Just about every business out there is going to have some kind of sale(s) going on for the holiday season. It doesn't matter how you advertise or if you advertise at all, I highly recommend putting on some kind of special during this time or else you'll lose sales to your competitors that are advertising specials. Prepare your website, create graphics, prepare your coupons and special promotion codes in your admin area. Create targeted campaigns for your PPC accounts, if you have them. Start building your Holiday emails now and have them ready to blast out to your list so they can stay up to speed with your specials.
- Capitalize: Don't think of this time simply as an opportunity to make higher than average sales and profits, it's much more than that. There is no better time than the Holiday rush to significantly beef up your customer base. Remember this statistic: It costs 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current customer. As opposed to other times of the year when you have to go get the customer, the majority of customers will come seek you out and find you. Even if you do limited advertising they will still find you and you will see a significant increase in sales. However, you want to capture these customers and retain them for life (best case scenario). This is why it is so important to have the items that your customers want in stock and be ready to deliver them in a timely fashion before the Holidays. Take some time to follow up with your Holiday customers after the Holidays and ensure they - and the person they gifted to - are satisfied with your service and products. Also, offer them a discount on their next order to attract them back.
This time of the year can be very exciting, rewarding, and lucrative if done right. I hope you now have a better idea as to why I consider now the time to start preparing for the Holiday season as opposed to any later date. I also hope you found this information informative. As always, if you have any questions or need advice, please don't hesitate to contact me.