How to get ready for the holidays in retail

September just got here – is it really time to start getting ready for the holidays?

For a wide variety of retailers, the answer is a resounding yes.

So How Should You Start Preparing?
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything now. But if you’re a retailer you should be thinking about the important steps you’ll need to take over the next few months in order to gear up for a smooth Black Friday and beyond. After all, this is the “make-or-break” time that can help determine success or failure for the year. And like it or not, November is just around the corner.

So, what should you be thinking about now as you get ready to ramp up into the holidays?

1. Ensure you'll have enough staffing.
Many companies need additional employees during, or even leading up to, the holiday season. Some hire new full-time employees and keep them on into the next year, some hire temporary workers from agencies that deal with the holiday surge every year.

If you’ve used a temp agency before, make sure you’re in contact with them to keep them informed of your upcoming staffing needs. And if you haven’t used one, but anticipate needing one, do your research now, well ahead of time. Consult with other businesses about who they’ve used; talk with local agencies to see if they’ll have enough workers to suit your needs; research possibilities online.

2. Start working on proper inventory levels.
Black Friday and the holiday season varies in significance from industry to industry—some industries do most of their business during this brief window, while other industries aren’t significantly affected. A Christmas tree pop-up shop relies more on the holidays than, say, an auto parts store.

But even an auto parts store will have certain items that are more popular during the holiday season. Anything that can be a gift or a luxury is going to increase in sales during the holiday season, and companies should stock up on it. To gain solid insights, take a look at last year’s sales, and keep a watchful eye on which items are popular so far this year.

3. Start talking about schedules.
Holidays are not only the busiest time of year for businesses—many employees will be looking to take time off as well. Make expectations clear to employees and ask for plenty of notice about when they’ll need time off, so that you can plan around their schedule and be fully staffed at all times. And if the holidays require a lot of overtime from your best employees, always make sure they’re well rewarded once things settle down, whether that’s with a bonus or a different sign of appreciation.

4. Make sure your website is up-to-date, especially if you have e-commerce.
E-commerce is still a fraction of holiday sales compared to in-person retail, but it’s growing steadily. That trend shows no sign of stopping this year, so make sure your website helps you sell. If you don’t have e-commerce, make sure you’re at least showing your products, hours, and location for marketing purposes. And if you do have e-commerce, make sure your inventory is always up to date, your payment solution works smoothly, and that you have effective online fraud prevention measures in place.

5. Above all: start early, so you see any potential problems early.
The holidays bring plenty more that you should be ready for. Do your customers ask for gifts to be wrapped? Do you ship items remotely? Will you be decorating for the season? Plan now for everything you can think of, because there are bound to be unexpected hiccups, once the holidays get rolling.

​​It’s Already Time To Prepare For The Holidays In Retail

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