Overview: The calendar doesn’t say “December” yet. But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to prepare your business for the holiday season! Read on for some tips on how to get ready BEFORE the rush… plus some thoughts on the holidays that come first!
Maybe you did a double-take when you saw the title of this blog post. And yes, we know it’s still only September, and we haven’t even celebrated Halloween yet. But there’s no escaping the reality: The holiday season will be here before we know it — and when Christmas rolls around, it’s going to happen whether we’re ready for it or not!
We’ve recently heard the phrase “Christmas creep” used to describe the phenomenon of Christmas and all its trappings showing up in our lives earlier and earlier every year — or at least, that’s what it feels like. You’re going to start seeing snowmen and elves everywhere you turn in the very near future, if you haven’t already.
The holiday season can be huge for small businesses, especially those that make a lot of their money via e-commerce. If you wait until the last minute to start making plans for the season, chances are you’ll wish you had started sooner. (Just like those last-minute shoppers!)
In this blog post, we’ll help you make a list and check it twice, so your business will have a holiday season that’s not stressful, but nice.
Don’t Forget About Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Hold on a moment. Before we “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow,” let’s take a step back.
Before Christmas time comes along, we have two more big holidays looming on the calendar: Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Halloween brings a whole cauldron full of potential for small businesses to get into the spirit of the holiday. If your business sells any products with logical associations to Halloween, you can promote them, bundle them together, and offer special sales. You could also try giving away some free Halloween candy with each purchase. Who doesn’t like candy?
If you have a brick-and-mortar store or a physical location, decorating for Halloween can bring joy to customers and employees alike. Nothing too scary — just a few bats, skeletons, and plastic jack-o’-lanterns will do the trick. If you really want to go for it, you can even encourage employees to wear (family-friendly) costumes on the big day.
In the social media era, brands have a lot of fun in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Silly-scary profile images, temporary display names, and sharing spooky memes are a few ways you can make the most of October. As with any marketing effort, though, you should be mindful of whether this kind of thing is compatible with your brand voice and the type of business you’re in.
>> Related Reading: How Halloween Inspires E-Commerce Marketing
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is somewhat overshadowed by other holidays, but you can still take advantage of the occasion by letting your customers know that you’re thankful for them. And think about this question: Is your business thematically related to the concepts of togetherness, gratitude, or family?
You can also craft a Thanksgiving-themed email newsletter, highlighting seasonally appropriate products and showing that you’re thankful for your customers by offering them special discounts.
How Can Your Business Prepare for Christmas?
Now that we’ve breezed through the fall holidays, let’s get right down to it: The Christmas shopping season is fast approaching. Is your e-commerce website ready?
No matter what business you’re in, this tells you how important it is to be prepared in advance. Start planning your seasonal sales, including special sales on holiday-related products. Also, look back at the products or services that sold well for you last year at holiday time, and get ready to spotlight those offerings this year.
If your business depends largely on e-commerce, you have another level of things to consider. For example:
Are all your product pages up to date?
Is the cart feature on your site functioning correctly?
Is your website loading quickly?
Are you set up to seamlessly receive online payments from customers?
Is your website mobile-friendly, for those who do their shopping from the comfort of their phones?
Have you prepared any potential festive re-theming of your website and social media accounts?
Plan Early – Don’t Be a Cautionary Tale
We don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but it really is essential to ensure that all of these business considerations are taken care of well in advance of the holiday shopping season. We’d hate for you to become a cautionary tale of Christmas commerce.
A lot of crazy things happen at brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year: Shoppers pushing, shoving, and tackling each other in their efforts to grab that hot new toy or that deeply-discounted blender.
And we’ve also heard about some Black Friday disasters happening to e-commerce businesses. Like the online store whose owners didn’t double-check the back end of their website before Black Friday — and the website crashed, leaving them with untold numbers of lost sales.
>> Related Reading: How a Black Friday Crash Prepped Lowe’s for the Pandemic
Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure the back end of your e-commerce website is shipshape and secure. If you need help with this, drop us a line! With our expertise, we’re like the Santa’s elves of website support and maintenance.
Further Down the Chimney: More Tips on Prepping for the Season
But that’s not all! Here are some more ways you can stay on top of the holiday shopping season:
Take Stock of Your Stock: When you decide which of your popular and seasonal products you’re going to promote heavily, make sure you have plenty of stock. Consider buffer stock for unexpected demand, and keep in touch with your suppliers to ensure timely restocks.
Make Your Return Policy Clear: Explain your return and exchange policies on your website, especially if you adjust them for the holiday season. You don’t want your customers to have any surprises.
>> Related Reading: How to Write a Return Policy
Prepare Your Staff: Based on your expectations of the holiday shopping season, consider whether hiring seasonal help might relieve some of the pressure of fulfilling orders. And make sure all your employees are trained and ready to respond to common customer questions.
Plan Shipping and Delivery: We previously mentioned the importance of ensuring that your customers know exactly what they’re getting. But do you know exactly how you’re getting it to them? Ensure that your shipping system is secured and reliable, and consider offering multiple options — including express shipping, local pick-up, or other methods to cater to last-minute shoppers.
Post-Season Review: After all the holiday madness is said and done, take note of how it went for your business. What went well? Where was there room for improvement? Analyzing this year’s holiday season will help you get an even better head start on next holiday season!
So there you have it! A stocking full of advice on how to prepare your business for the holidays — with a bonus trick-or-treat bag and cornucopia. Not to belabor the point, but we really do recommend getting started on your holiday preparations as soon as possible.
When it comes to fine-tuning your website for the busy season, it can be difficult to go it alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of website maintenance on top of everything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. At MyUnlimitedWP, we have a gift for keeping websites running smoothly — and just like family and friends at holiday time, we loving sharing our gifts!