The National Retail Federation’s studies show that retail stores can expect to make roughly 20% of their yearly revenue during the holiday season. That’s a pretty impressive statistic, but the NRF also predicts that some outlets like gaming and toy stores might even be able to make 30% of their yearly revenue in the two months leading up to Christmas. With those kinds of profits, it’s no wonder that businesses everywhere start shaping their holiday game months – or even a year – in advance.

If you’re just starting to get your holiday preparations underway, you may be a little bit behind the curve, but hey – there’s no time like the present.

Is Your Business Prepared for the Holiday Season?

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Your customers, employees, and suppliers will all expect different things from you during this busy time, so you need to be methodical and efficient as you make the most of the time you have left before the holidays. We’ve put together a list of four areas you should focus on in order to get the most out of the season.

  1. Plan Strategically

First off, don’t go into the holiday season blind – you need to make a game plan and stick to it. Start by going over last year’s numbers and analyze what worked and what didn’t. Look at the kind of promotions your competitors are offering, and tweak them to meet your customers’ needs. Keep up to date on this year’s internet trends and adjust your inventory accordingly. The holidays require strong time management, so be sure to order your products early so that you don’t run out or have to pay expedited shipping charges.

You should also take a moment to look over and update your return policy. This may not seem like much of a strategy, but customers who are happy with the return procedure are more likely to revisit your store in the future.

  1. Marketing

The holiday season is full to the rafters with advertising and marketing campaigns with each one trying to outdo the others. You should definitely put some time and effort into making new ads that are eye-catching and shareable. If your business can’t afford to do TV or radio advertising, don’t despair. Social media is an incredible platform that is almost free to use. Your ads should always feature high-quality images (no matter the time of year), but don’t be afraid to include short videos, infographics, and animations to grab your target audience’s attention and convince them 1) to make a purchase and 2) to share your ad with their friends and family.

If you haven’t set up an email campaign, now would be a fantastic time to do so. You could use the holiday season to introduce yourself and your company as well as extend coupons and giveaways as a gesture of goodwill. Encourage your subscribers to enter contests on social media by taking a selfie with your product and using a pre-determined hashtag in exchange for a prize. This tactic will help increase your online reach while costing you very little in comparison.

  1. Employees

As wonderful as the holidays are, they can also be incredibly stressful for your employees. It seems like everyone wants something, and they want it now! Between busy home lives and hectic work demands, the holidays can bring down your employees and their productivity. Go out of your way to help boost morale among your employees. Here are a few ideas to help you do that:

  • Rethink the party: The holidays are jam-packed with festive events that can leave your employees feeling a little breathless. A mandatory work party set outside of working hours can make your employees feel obligated instead of appreciated. If a work party isn’t the best solution for your employees, try to think of another way to celebrate.
  • Decorate and play music: A little bit of decoration goes a long way in helping your customers and employees get into the spirit of the holidays. Put up tasteful decorations around the office and encourage your employees to decorate their desks as well. Play soft holiday music over the intercom to further lighten the mood.
  • Set up a charity fund and match employee donations: One great way to boost morale while helping a good cause is to set up a charity fund and match your employees’ donations. You could even encourage a little bit of friendly competition between departments to see who can donate the most.
  • Give a gift or bonus: Of course, an end-of-year bonus is a perfect way to make all of the stress of the holidays a little bit more bearable. Start your budgeting early in the year, however, so all of those bonus checks don’t take a big chunk out of your bottom line. If you can’t afford to give each employee a bonus, at least give them a personalized gift that shows you appreciate their hard work around the office.

One surefire way to darken the mood around the holidays is to have incompetent temporary staff. To prevent frustration, hire temporary staff early, and focus on training them well. Inept staff can make both your customers and your long-term staff feel angry and unwilling to visit your store in the future.

Lastly, make sure to set your vacation policy well in advance. Give your employees a deadline by which to submit their request for time off, and do everything in your power to be fair and objective. Not everyone can have the whole week off, but by offering incentives for working during the peak times, it can make the inconvenience of working the holidays a little more pleasant.

  1. Website

People are doing more of their holiday shopping online than ever before, so you need to make sure that your website is up-to-date and fast. Make sure that it’s running at optimal speeds, and don’t be afraid to add some holiday touches in the heading and banner.

Minimize stress.  The holidays should be a time of joy and self-reflection as you look back over the past year. By putting in a little bit of effort and planning well, you can make the best out of the most wonderful time of the year.

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