by Nellie Akalp
Happy holidays! Too soon? Not really, especially because the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates 2019 holiday retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.2% over last year. In dollars, that means between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. With numbers like those, your business had better be well-organized for the frenetic holiday season ahead. Here are five ways to make sure your business is positioned to take the holidays by the reins!
1)—Get Your House in Order
I don’t know about you, but I can always think clearer with a clean office and ample supplies. The holidays are busy enough without having to run out for copier paper or spend half an hour trying to find an expense report. Obviously, year-end is on the horizon, so you want to be ahead of schedule when it comes to organizing financial documents for taxes, finalizing annual reports and more.
You don’t want to be experimenting with new software when things get busy, so if you’re considering buying any new technology, do it now, or wait until next year. Check with your suppliers to make sure your orders will be delivered on time.
2)—Big Holiday Sales Celebrations
All types of businesses can benefit from the masses of consumers shopping on the big advertised sales days like Black Friday (Nov. 29), Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30), and Cyber Monday (Dec. 2). Even if you’re not in the retail business, you can still offer holiday discounts and specials to attract customers and clients.
If you are a retailer, according to a survey from Shopkick about half of shoppers plan to buy in-store this year, so make sure your brick-and-mortar location and your website are in tip-top shape.
Finally, during this season of giving, be sure to offer a way for your customers to participate in Giving Tuesday—an important day set aside to give back to our communities. Your business can hold a raffle for a local charity, collect toys, clothes or food for kids in need, or come up with your own idea by brainstorming with your employees.
3)—Key in on Your Website
According to the Shopkick survey, 84% of shoppers will use their smartphones to “research, compare prices, find inspiration, read reviews and more.” To make sure consumers can find your website, tune-up your SEO by using the best keywords for your industry. Use a free tool like Wordtracker to research keywords or pay for a more sophisticated version, such as Alexa, which can tell you which keywords are working best for your competitors. For holiday advice from the SEO experts that control your ranking, check out the Holiday Retail Playbook from Google Services.
4)—Social Media Plan of Attack
Social media is a powerful sales tool but can also be an immense time suck. The holidays are definitely not the time to try and master the ins and outs of the social networking world. If you don’t already know how to best utilize social media, outsource it to a trusted employee or a freelance expert. The more you can plan ahead, the better. Once you get your social media posts written and scheduled, you’ll be free to actually interact with customers—in person and on social media.
Make sure you answer questions posted on your social platforms. Even setting up an autoresponder to direct customers where to find answers is better than letting the customer think you don’t care enough to respond.
You can increase social media engagement by running fun holiday contests, posting coupons or even capturing, then sharing your fun holiday promotions and events. Create a social media calendar to ensure you are making the most of the holiday season and staying active across all your channels.
5)—Hire Temporary Staff
If you’re a retailer, it’s likely your store will be open for more hours, so you’ll definitely need to make sure you’re not short-staffed. Other businesses may need to plan around employees who want time off to celebrate the holidays with their families.
To ensure you’re covered, plan ahead by hiring temporary staff. Ask employees to request their days off now; then look for holiday help (no, it’s not too early). In addition to using job search websites, ask your employees if they know anyone looking for holiday employment.
The holidays should be a time of thanks and celebration, so don’t forget to plan a party for your employees and shop for meaningful gifts for clients. By planning ahead, you can reduce holiday stress and your business will benefit, too.
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, business expert, professional speaker, author, and mother of four. She is the Founder and CEO of CorpNet.com, a trusted resource and service provider for business incorporation, LLC filings, and corporate compliance services in all 50 states. Nellie and her team recently launched a partner program for legal, tax and business professionals to help them streamline the business incorporation and compliance process for their clients.