How to Prepare Your Small Business for the Holiday Sales Period

The end of the year is approaching fast, meaning the annual Holiday sales rush is about to commence. Kicking off with Black Friday in late November, this six-week sales period represents a crucial opportunity for businesses to attract customers and help improve a bottom line that’s likely still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19.

The good news is, there’s still a window of opportunity to prepare your business – and your website – to make the most of the spending season. Covering everything from operations, to marketing and staffing, we’ve put together a simple to follow guide on how to prepare your business for the Holidays.

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Look to Previous Benchmarks

Unless this is your first Holiday sales period, a thorough audit of how you performed in previous years should be your first priority. Assess your weaknesses, find areas you can improve upon, and continue to build on your strengths. Each year should be considered a learning experience, with special attention paid to any trends, like increasing demand, to inform your choices.

Now is the Time to Think Mobile

The cell phone shopping revolution has arrived, and consumers are increasingly making purchases using their smartphones. Are you catering to this growing audience? To understand how many consumers are accessing your site on their phone, consult with your Google Analytics account. Making tweaks to your site to become more mobile responsive will pay off quickly for your business. According to a recent Salesforce study, 63 per cent of Canadians completed a Boxing Day purchase on their mobile device. That’s a lot of potential sales you will miss out on unless you think mobile.

Don’t have the budget to create a unique mobile website? Many common website platforms like WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace allow you to invest in a cost-effective, off-the-shelf mobile solution that’s customizable to your needs.

The Issue of Capacity

Capacity is an issue that should be top of mind for each business owner, and it’s a broad topic that covers two equally important areas.

Physical Capacity and COVID-19

Despite our best hopes, the pandemic is still very much a factor for Holiday 2021. It’s your obligation as a business owner to create a safe physical space for your staff and customers. This can be achieved by ensuring compliance with mask mandates, physical distancing, and providing hand sanitizer at high touch stations. Ensure your staff are equipped with the PPE (personal protective equipment) they need to stay safe. It’s also important to keep an eye on your capacity during busy times, ensuring enough space is left to facilitate physical distancing.

Online Capacity

If you’ve ever ran into technical difficulties on your website during a sale, don’t fret. Even the big boys go through hiccups from time to time. In 2018, Amazon’s website crashed during their much-publicized Prime Day promotion. That being said, the Holidays are the busiest time of year in eCommerce, and it’s a time where website outages can cost a lot in lost sales.

As a starting point, make sure to stress test your servers. If you saw high numbers of visits last year, it’s likely you will exceed those numbers in the coming years. Consider turning off some features of your website to create a pared back experience that will load faster for customers. If you want to upgrade aspects of your website performance, contact your hosting provider and look to upgrade your server capacity.

Create Marketing Plan

The fact the Holidays are occurring isn’t enough to drive sales. Instead, you should create a dedicated marketing plan across multiple channels. As a marketer, you’ve never had more tools at your disposal to achieve this goal. Does your business have a blog? Prepare some guides, advice or expertise (much like this blog!) to share across your social media channels. This will drive visitors to your website, build recognition of your brand expertise, and work to build your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

How is your email marketing game? Email Marketing is more relevant than ever and shows remarkable conversion rates. Make sure you’re sending out your deals via your email list. Consider staging contests, and even enlisting the help of industry relevant influencers to assist with your marketing effort.

Deploy Your Marketing Plan ASAP

There’s no time like the present to start building your holiday marketing push. If you’re thinking of offering any deals or special offers to entice customers in, let them know in advance through your marketing channels. Don’t fall into the trap of announcing deals at the last minute. Go big and go early with your marketing push. It will serve to build a buzz around your business, increasing exposure and excitement among your customer base.

Prepare for the Holidays with Small Business BC

Is your business ready to make the most of the busy Holiday sales period? At Small Business BC, we’ve got a range of live business webinars, free resource downloads, and one-on-one business advice to help optimize every aspect of your small business.