We're five days into December and as individuals Christmas is well and truly upon us, but as a business Christmas should have been on our minds and haunting our dreams for several months now. No matter what business sector or industry you are in you will undoubtedly be affected by the festive season, especially if yours is a business that can realistically expect a high influx of customers, and relies on this surge to support itself though some of the quieter months of the year.
It doesn't matter if your business is based online or has a physical store front, there are steps that you'll need to take to prepare your business for Christmas. Arguably now may be a little late to be looking into preparing your business for this Christmas, but there is nothing wrong with identifying where you went wrong this year and course correcting in preparation for next year's Christmas season; starting with...
When Should Christmas Preparations Begin?
Short Answer: As early as possible. You can never be too prepared for Christmas, especially if your business belongs to the retail sector, and even if as a person you don't like to pay Christmas any thought until after Halloween at the earliest, as a business this can be a very harmful thought process to have.
You may think that because of the December rush that the majority of consumers like to leave to Christmas shopping until 3 weeks prior to Christmas, but the truth is many people start buying their gifts in October to spread the cost. It might be a good idea therefore to have your plan laid out before the end of September, and begin to drop light Christmas references and deals from then onwards to encourage the early birds to come to you.
How To Promote Your Business & Grow Sales
The sad thing about business is that what is innovative and daring one year is pretty much the norm by the next, which is why all of the January Sales now pretty much start on Boxing Day. If you want to make the most of the festive season then you have got to make yourself stand out and encourage people to come and return to your shop.
Having a sale on when everyone one else has a sale on is not going to do this, it will just not drive people away. Having a sale or promotion leading up to Christmas is a bold move, but one that can pay off, especially if you capitalise on the footfall by offering post-new year discount vouchers to encourage the customer to return in the new year.
Supply & Demand
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to getting in Christmas stock, some companies like to get in double of everything, and others like to be more selective, it really does depend on your business and you ought to know your business better than anyone.
It is wise however to target seasonal products and best sellers, whilst also including a few 'wild card' items that you suspect might do well if given the appropriate push. Don't get carried away though, we all want to push the product with the best margin, but be realistic; it's better to put your support behind a product that will sell well in numbers than to have slow-moving, high-profit product lining your shelves. (which brings us neatly onto...)
Setting up Christmas Displays
A basic Christmas selling tool, your Christmas displays need to be well thought through and must be creative if they are to make an impact. Place your best selling products in prominent positions but don't neglect your other products, which by placing in the general vicinity of some of the more popular products could help to grow interest and generate sales.
Christmas displays are not only great for customers, they are also great for staff to because they are so fun to put together! Christmas can be very hectic and there is no doubt that your staff will be stressed out and stretched thin too. Don't keep all the fun, creative jobs to do yourself, let others help and pitch in to build morale and promote a more relaxed atmosphere.
Infuse Your Website With Christmas Cheer
On the aesthetic side it is always a good idea to decorate your sites landing page, at the very least, with a few Christmas-orientated effects and images, and a banner advertising any deals or offers you have on will certainly not go amiss, especially if its accompanied with a clear call to action.
Another very good idea is include a very prominently placed note informing customers of the last day they can order products and definitely get their order delivered before Christmas. This will help to avoid any complaints and encourage the normally pensive shoppers to act with a greater sense of urgency.
If you're a big e-commerce retailer, to the point that the majority, if not all of your revenue, comes from online sales, then you will want to research and target some Christmas-related keywords to improve your site's SEO, ideally no later than June. You may also want to consider putting aside a Google Adwords budget to promote a particular product or product range during a short-term Christmas Campaign.