holiday season

The 12 Days of Business: Last-Minute Holiday Season Advice for Business Owners

Overview: We’re well into the holiday shopping season. Have you been taking advantage of the seasonal opportunities to promote your business? If not, there are still a few things you can do. Read on to learn more! 

There are only a few shopping days left until Christmas. For many businesses, the holiday season is a huge time of year. But sometimes the time slips away from us. If you feel like you haven’t done enough to take advantage of the season this year, read on for our advice on what you can do with the remaining days!

It’s Not Too Late for Seasonal Marketing 

We’re a few weeks into December now, and the big day is right around the corner. Did it just dawn on you that you’ve yet to implement any seasonal holiday marketing? It’s not too late!

If your business involves customers ordering products and you shipping them out, it will be trickier to pull off a successful strategy (see “Set Realistic Expectations” below for more on this). But there’s still time to engage in some holiday marketing — especially if your products and services don’t depend on shipping times.

You can whip up some special sales on your most popular items. And you can create some holiday discount codes for your customers to use at checkout on your e-commerce store or when placing an order on the phone or in person. (For example, “Enter discount code RUDOLPH at checkout!” or “Tell your sales associate Fred the Elf sent you for 10% off!”)

You also have just enough time to assemble a holiday newsletter using a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact! Make it festive with a red and green color scheme, and use it to alert all your followers to those sales and discount codes!

So what are you waiting for? Make some marketing magic!

>> Related Reading: Holiday Marketing Campaigns from Brands We Love

Set Realistic Expectations for Shipping 

As we alluded to in the previous section, it’s fairly straightforward to accelerate your holiday shopping season efforts if your business relies mostly on in-person sales. Customers will come to you, and you’ll sell them what they need — as long as you have it in stock!

If your business primarily ships products to customers, you’ll need to proceed with caution. Take a good, long look at your shipping logistics: If a customer orders a product from you today, will they receive it by Christmas day? If not, what’s the earliest date they could receive it?

If the answers are “No, they won’t receive it by Christmas day” and “I have no idea how soon they would receive it,” make sure you clearly communicate that to your customers! They might be disappointed to learn that their items won’t arrive before the holiday — but they’ll be even more upset if they were given unrealistic expectations that fail to pan out!

>> Related Reading: The Dangers of Over-Promising and Under-Delivering

Make Your Return Policy Clear  

And on the subject of clear communication with customers: How confident are you that your customers can easily locate and understand your return policy?

This is especially important during the holiday season, when many items bought as gifts will later be returned. We’ve all been there… It was the wrong size. It was the wrong color. Or… it was just plain wrong. There are many reasons a customer might come back seeking to return one of your products.

Whatever your return policy is, put it in a prominent place on your website. And reiterate it in the confirmation email you send when your customer places their order. Your goal should be to leave little to no possibility of confusion or frustration — for yourself AND your customers!

Is Your E-Commerce Store Working? 

So far, much of this blog post has covered areas where business owners who haven’t been pushing their offerings during the holiday season can make improvements. But maybe you have been making an effort, and your online holiday sales are still not quite what you expected them to be. If that’s the case, there might be a problem with your e-commerce store!

One quick and easy way to test your online store is to give it a spin as if you were a customer. Visit your website on a computer, and then on a mobile device, and see how it works. When you click on a product, does it take you to the correct page? Are all the images displaying properly? Does the checkout process happen smoothly and with minimal loading times?

If any of these elements are going wrong, it can be a major deterrent to would-be customers. To ensure a successful holiday shopping season, make sure your online shop is in excellent shape!

If your e-commerce store is on the fritz, we’re here to help! Website support is what we do. Drop us a line to find out how we can resolve your issues in time to fill those stockings!

Don’t Forget Your Holiday Party 

And now for a fun one!

With the holiday season comes the end of the year, which is a perfect time for business owners to show their appreciation for their employees. After all, without your team members, your business couldn’t keep running. You’d be stuck like Santa on that foggy Christmas Eve before Rudolph showed up!

So before the year ends, think about how you can show your team how much you value them and the work they do. Of course, holiday bonuses are always nice… but unfortunately, they’re not always practical for small businesses.

One thing you can do is host a holiday party for your staff. It can be as modest or elaborate as you can make it. You could reserve a party room at a nice restaurant and allow plus-ones, or you could just close up early one afternoon and order some delivery.

If your team works remotely, there are still things you can do! Play some online games, host a casual Zoom chat. The possibilities are endless!

>> Related Reading: Office Holiday Parties on a Budget

Is It Time to Rethink Your Record-Keeping? 

It’s time now to shift to some more practical concerns as we make our way through the holiday business season.

As you track your sales, invoices, debts, inventory, and so on, do you find that your end-of-the-year business records are in disarray? If so, it’s time to come up with a plan to improve your system in the new year!

That might mean coming up with a better way of organizing your files (physical, digital, or both). It might mean re-training your team on how records should be kept. Or it might mean switching to a completely new system. However you do it, now’s the time to start making a plan so your 2024 records will be neat and tidy!  

Wrap Up  Administrative Tasks 

Don’t get caught staying late at the office on Christmas Eve! Now’s the time to finish off any outstanding administrative work you need to do before the end of the year.

This might include conducting employee evaluations and performance reviews, outlining plans for hiring employees in the new year, and double-checking the status of your employee benefit packages.

These tasks are not exactly fun to do while you have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head — but they are necessary!

Giving Back and Community Engagement 

The holidays are a time of giving. If you’ve been meaning to engage in charitable giving, now’s the perfect time!

Consider ways your business can contribute to the community, like donating to toy drives, children’s charities, and local shelters for unhoused people. You can also encourage your employees to do volunteer work, and even set aside some company time to volunteering as a team.

In Conclusion 

If you think you haven’t done enough for your business this holiday shopping season, don’t despair! From marketing to e-commerce to celebrations to charitable giving, there are still many steps you can take to make it a jolly holiday.

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