As winter approaches and images of hot cocoa, snuggling up in cozy blankets, and snow begin to swirl around, so begins our planning of the inevitable last-minute holiday shopping season. For the small business owner, this is both a nerve-wracking and exciting time. With a little preparation, and some extra teamwork, any worries of chaos can easily transform into cheer. As exciting as the impending sounds of a busy store may be, businesses need to be as prepared as possible for the increased customer presence. Here are some strategies that can help you feel as ready as possible for the month ahead:
- Prepare your staff
It’s important that your employees are prepared to greet the influx of shoppers during this holiday season. You may also need to hire seasonal employees to help with the demands of greater foot traffic and potential extended hours. While this can be a huge help to full-year employees, it’s essential to train your new hires early and ensure they continue representing your store with impeccable customer service. Make sure everyone is prepared with the knowledge of seasonal holiday promotions you plan to roll out and possible additional services you may provide, such as gift wrapping.
- Organization is key
When the bustling crowds arrive, the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to find where you placed your box of extra bags, or where your latest shipment of receipt paper disappeared to in your stockroom. Find logical spaces for each necessary item to go before the holiday season arrives and leaves you with stressed employees and customers. Your back room should be your sanctuary during this season - make sure it's well maintained and equipped with all of the essentials. Don’t forget that organization can also include online strategies. Ensure that your software is up to date, that you can easily track inventory, and that your system is up to the challenge of frequent sales.
- Spruce up your space
Although you may have stocked up on additional supplies for the season, make sure to find room for those materials in storage (which should be organized already) and keep the store itself free from clutter. As more customers enter, they should feel free to roam around without too much crowding by other people or the items for sale. In order to avoid chaos, generate intentional spacing for shoppers to easily flow around the store.
- …and then add some festive flourishing!
Avoid being labeled the Grinch of the mall, and be sure to let the holiday spirit shine. Once you feel your store is set up in the best way for sales, it’s time to then enhance it with some decorative pizzazz. Decorating your storefront will draw customers in, and having an inviting ambiance inside will make them want to stay. Plan a night where your employees can stay late to help display holiday garlands and baubles. Create holiday playlists to add festive cheer and watch those bustling shoppers glow in the warmth of feeling merry and bright.
- Create a strong holiday marketing campaign
Whether you use Instagram posts, email updates, or social media ads, it’s necessary to prepare an enticing holiday promotion early on to share through these channels. Think about what kind of sales or freebies you’d like to offer to your customers, and then use your creativity on social media to further attract your audience to visit your shop. Don’t be afraid to post frequently and to highlight what makes your store unique and special during this holiday season. Although there is a clear goal to attract new customers, don’t forget to remind your loyal customers why they should stick around too. Consider a rewards program that can benefit frequent shoppers, perhaps with extra perks during the holiday shopping season.
Remember that a little extra prep work can go a long way in making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible this holiday season. Don’t forget to be proud of the value of your store and services, as well as its traditions that you can continue to enhance during the most wonderful time of the year. ‘Tis the season, and with a few added efforts, this season can be your most successful yet.