Entrepreneur's Guide: Preparing Your Small Business for the Holiday Season
The week has started whether we like it or not AND we are in the second week of September. The weeks seem to be flying off the shelves like candy on the clearance aisle. I do not know where the time has gone and if you are like me, you may be feeling like you are falling behind. There are so many things to get done in a day and believe it or not, the holiday season is upon us and we need to plan for the seasonal shoppers.
It is time to start preparing your small business for the upcoming holiday season. Honestly, you should have started already. BUT if you haven't, NOW is the time. Over the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this topic and giving you tips that I use to prepare my Etsy shop and main website for the holiday season.
Today I want to focus on your overall strategy for preparing you and your business for the holidays.
Here are five main things that I focus on when I start prepping my business for the holiday season.
1. Ordering SuppliesVendors that you order your supplies from are going to be just as busy as you, if not busier, as we approach the holiday season. To calm your nerves and to set yourself up for success, start stocking up on supplies that you know you will need to create, package, and ship your items. If you have been in business for at least 10 months, and have sales from last year's holiday season, you need to review your numbers. If you don't know much about forecasting, I am going to suggest you do a simplified version of sales forecasting. Sales forecasting is the process of estimating future sales. It gives insight into how you should manage your time (and the time of those that work for you if you have employees or contractors), cash flow, and resources. It allows you to see, based on historical trends, how to plan for future potential holiday sales.
Some of the key things you are looking for are:
- What items sold (even if only a small amount)
- What items sold well (highlight the best sellers)
- What items sold out (you will need to order more supplies for these items for sure)
- What items did not do well (you may want to retire those)
Once you have this information, this will let you know which supplies (based on the items that sold well) and how much (based on the number of items sold) you definitely need to order for this year and I would increase that amount by at least 25%. This is in the hopes that you are reaching more people and growing your business. This percentage will fluctuate from business to business based on the rate at which they are growing. Once you figure out how much you need to order of your various supplies, START ORDERING.
2. Stocking InventoryIf you have items that can be made before a customer orders, start stocking your inventory shelves (even if your shelves are your kitchen cabinets, we have all been there) with those items to help decrease your turnaround time during the holidays and increase sales. People order last minute and they love to find a great product that will also ship within a few days. Plan out what days of the week you are going to focus on creating inventory so that you are not too stressed out and too over worked leading up the holidays.
3. Updating Website(s)Review your website and make any updates that will draw in holiday shoppers. View your website on a desktop, laptop and mobile device to ensure it is easy to navigate, loads quickly, and is mobile friendly.
Some other suggested updates are:
- Change the banner or header picture so that it shows a more holiday appropriate item or theme.
- Optimize your product search keywords for the holidays
- Create a blog (on your site) with gift guides of your product for various members of the family
- Update Bio/About and any outdated information
- Make sure ship times and policies are clearly listed somewhere on your site
- Link all social accounts to your website and include clickable links on your website
- Check for broken links (you can click here to check your site for broken links)
4. Creating a Marketing CampaignTo create a marketing campaign you need to know the key holiday season days. This helps you decide how you want to market your products for the holidays, when to market them, when to do a promotion, and/or when to do a contest and/or giveaway. Create a detailed plan of when you will offer sales, discounts, and other promotions leading up to the holidays. You can use social media platforms, email campaigns, and/or advertising to alert customers of these special holiday offers. Some other great ideas that you may consider including in your roll out are Bundling Options, Gift Wrapping Options, New Collections, and Holiday Specific Items to market to your customers for the holidays. Below are the key dates you need to be aware of to help shape your marketing campaign.
2018 Holiday Season Key Dates:
- November 22 - Thanksgiving (United States)
- November 23 - Black Friday (US)
- November 24 - Small Business Saturday (US)
- November 26- Cyber Monday or Mega Monday (US/United Kingdom/Canada/Australia) Cyber Monday extends to Tuesday in Australia
- December – 12 Days of Christmas (date is based on when a business wants to start the promotional campaign leading up to Christmas)
- December 2 - Advent begins
- December 3 – Manic Monday – a day of great deals b4 Christmas
- December 10 – Green Monday
- December 14 – Free Shipping Day
- December 24 – Advent Ends
- December 24 - Christmas Eve
- December 25 - Christmas Day
- December 31 - New Year’s Eve
- January 1 - New Year’s Day
5. Scheduling Holiday ContentMore and more shoppers are finding businesses online and more specifically on social media. Having a plan for your social media is crucial during the holiday season. I have already started planning my Instagram posts for November and December and I already feel like I am behind. You can use a downloadable calendar, spreadsheet, app or whatever works best for you. The goal is to have a plan and start creating content so that you have plenty on hand when the holidays rush in. Many businesses use sites to help curate and create content. Sites like Canva, Upsplash, Creative Market to name a few, can help provide you with graphics, photos, etc to add to your social media posts.
I hope you are taking notes and that you bookmarked this page to come back and visit when you need to review your, Preparing for the Holiday Season Checklist. Make sure you check out the blog next week when I go over a more detailed review of how to prepare your Etsy shop for the holidays.
Blessings, Peace and Love,