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Tips for Preparing Your Business for the Christmas Period

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by Startacus Admin

Tips for preparing your business for the Christmas Period
Christmas. A time for giving and sharing and forgiving and loving and sobbing over your bank statements. For many businesses, it could be a time to - in a very Christmas-spirited way of course - make lots of money. But if you aren’t careful about it, you could still end up crying over your books and statements. Here are some tips for preparing for the Christmas period, in the hopes of avoiding the latter scenario.


Batten down the e-hatches 

Everybody knows that the run up Christmas is at least one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, and this applies as much online as it does offline. Without repeating too much of what we have gone over in our article about preparing for Black Friday, there are some things you need to think about when you conduct sales online.

Is your website prepared for a sudden increase in traffic? It doesn’t matter how unlikely it is that several million people will suddenly decide they want to buy their Christmas presents from you. You need to be sure that, if there is a surge in traffic, your website won’t curl up into the foetal position and refuse to do anything.

Fraud is rampant during times like this, so you also need to ensure your security is up to scratch, to protect both your website and customers’ information and payment details. It’s unlikely that you will be hit by DDoS attacks if you are a small business, but it would be prudent to check out your website’s host - find out how prepared they are for dealing with these attacks, how long they generally take to get affected websites back up and running, etc. Most offer extra protection against such things, or can direct you to third party companies to do that.


Christmas it up

We’re sure your website (and/or physical shop) is just lovely, but have you considered giving it a temporary redesign? It would be unwise to go over the top at this stage and completely redesign the site, change menus, headers, etc., as you don’t want repeat customers to get confused or put off by the sudden change. However, giving your site a tasteful Christmas theme wouldn’t go amiss. If you can give your shop - online and offline - a theme that instills a real sense of something special, of that bit of Christmas magic that we all want to feel at that time of year, then your browsers will become customers. Unless you sell plumbing supplies, in which case you might be out of luck.

Consider offering discounts and other kinds of deals - some play on the 12 days of Christmas which is always good. Always keep in mind the question of why people should shop with you. Unless your product in totally unique, you need to come up with other ways to entice people to your business and to your checkout.

Christmas is a particularly good time to offer gift wrapping, where applicable. Teach yourself how to nicely wrap, and offer it either as an extra or included in the price. Plenty of people are too busy or so bad at wrapping that they will look out for a gift wrapping option and will usually be happy to pay a little extra for it.

A popular thing for smaller retailers to do is put together their own gift packs. This means taking products you already have and packaging them with complementary products. An obvious example of this is if you sell things like soap, bath bombs, candles, etc., put together a gift pack for beleaguered parents who will need some relaxation once Christmas is over. In this way, you can offer gift-like stuff, but if you don’t sell out, you can just unpack them and sell them individually again (just don’t be stingy about it, Scrooge). Which brings us to…

 Tips for preparing your business for the Christmas Period

Be optimistically realistic

If you have been in business for awhile, you will probably have a decent idea of how Christmas goes for your business. It can be easy to imagine droves of people flooding your shop or your website, ravaging the shelves, and leaving your cash register fit to burst. It can be equally easy to imagine that this will never happen to your business, so what’s the point in preparing. Find a balance in which you are prepared for Christmas shoppers without finding yourself out of pocket come January. Choose your own purchases carefully - if this shipment of products doesn’t sell at Christmas, can it be sold afterwards or is it too seasonal; if these don’t sell, will they keep until next year, etc. Also check with suppliers to find out how quickly they can restock you if necessary.

Be prepared for shipping. Costs may go up and delivery schedules may change. Stay on top of your shipping options to ensure that not only do you not start losing money on it, but that customers’ purchases actually reach them in time for Christmas. Check reviews on your courier’s performance over previous Christmases. Make sure it is displayed clearly that, according to your chosen courier service, the last day for shipping is X. You don’t want to find yourself inundated with complaints, returns, and social media fury over something this simple.


Be a people person

If you work in retail, you may need an extra pair of hands. If you are rushed off your feet most normal shopping days, it’s probably a good idea to bring in some help for Christmas. At the very least, arrange for someone to be available on short notice if needed. And don’t forget to ensure every staff member knows about the deals you are offering, the extras such as wrapping, and so on. The calmer you and your staff are, the smoother you all operate, the more confident and competent you come across, the more likely your customers are to return after Christmas.

Lastly, no matter what your business is, you need to be prepared for people wanting to take Christmas off work. This means any employees, yes, but also outside entities you work with such as suppliers, manufacturers, freelancers, and your clients and customers. Feel free to wish any or all of them a Merry Christmas or a PC Happy Holiday, but don’t bother them with advertising once the rush for Christmas shopping is up. Time your resumption of such things well, and bear in mind how many people don’t like to admit too soon that things have to go back to normal.

Tips for preparing your business for the Christmas Period

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Published on: 21st November 2016

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