Preparing for the Holiday Season – A Checklist for Your Customers

It is almost the most wonderful time of the year which also means the busiest time of the year is quickly approaching for your customers. As an independent sales agent, supporting your customers and providing advice helps build credibility, maintain relationships, and retain customers. Whether your customers run a brick-and-mortar store or operate an online business, helping them prepare for the holiday rush can make it a successful, stress-free holiday season for them.

Here are five tips to share with your customers to help them prepare and get the most out of the 2014 holiday season.

 

1. Stock Up

Empty shelves, backordered items, and out of stock signs during the holiday season is frustrating for both consumers and retailers. Ensure your customers have the appropriate inventory quantities on hand to handle the influx of holiday shoppers. They should stock up on their top selling items, best gift items, and their popular impulse purchases. Analyzing past holiday season sales should help them estimate their volume and necessary quantities. When ordering products, recommend that they take advantage of supplier discounts by ordering in bulk to save some extra money.

 

2. Staff Appropriately

Having enough staff members is critical for the holiday rush. Today’s consumers like immediacy and will not wait in long lines or put up with slow customer service, so retailers should have enough staff members available to help customers in a timely manner.

If extra help is needed, retailers should hire seasonal employees a few weeks prior to the holiday season to allow time for training and preparation. The holiday season can be draining on small business owners, so hiring extra help is a smart business decision to reduce stress during the busy season.

 

3. Use Social Media

 Your customers should take advantage of social media to promote their business, especially around the holidays. They should announce gift ideas, new products, discounts, contests, and holiday shopping events to bring customers into their stores. Creating a social media calendar and scheduling posts in advance will help them stay organized throughout the season

Consumers have various choices when it comes to shopping, so posting on social media will remind them of the store and their unique offerings.  Social media is an essential tool this holiday season for retailers to stay in front of their customers.

 

4. Offer Promotions, Host Holiday Events, and Run Holiday Contests

Small businesses have tough competition around the holiday season with large retailers offering deep discounts and free shipping. Although it may be hard to compete with their prices, small retailers can still remain competitive by offering promotions, hosting events, and running contests.

Retailers can offer low-cost promotions, such as free in-store gift wrapping or a free small gift. Even if it is as small as a free cup of hot chocolate, consumers love free items and these types of promotions will draw them into the store. 

Your customers can boost sales by hosting two to three hour holiday shopping events where they offer discounts and provide free food and drinks to their customers. This will help bring in customers and it encourages them to stay longer, allowing retailers to connect with their customers on a more personal level.

Retailers can boost customer engagement and increase excitement by creating a holiday contest.  Some small businesses run simple, low-cost contests, such as a guessing game of how many candy canes are in a jar. Asking customers to enter a contest gives retailers the opportunity to collect more customer information, including email addresses, to stay in touch. Plus, giving a gift card to the store as a prize brings customers back in for more.

 

5. Participate in Small Business Saturday

 Shop local days are great opportunities for small retailers to build awareness and grow their business. Retailers should check their local community calendars to participate in these days year round.

One of the greatest opportunities for small businesses is the annual American Express Small Business Saturday which will be held on Saturday, November 29, 2014. This day is for individuals to celebrate and show appreciation for their local, small businesses. Given that it falls right during the peak time for holiday shopping, it’s a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to promote their business and gain new customers.

 

Now is the time to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year. Make this the most productive holiday season for your customers!