Ensure your business is ready for Christmas & New Year

The last quarter of the year is the most critical period of the year for many small businesses.

On one hand, it presents an excellent opportunity to boost sales significantly with a typical UK household spending more than £500 on Christmas shopping. On the other hand, competition can be stiff, and it takes a lot of planning and preparation to make the most out of the season.

So what can small businesses do ahead of time to ensure they’re prepared for the busy festive season? We’ve compiled some of the most important things to do now so that your business is ready for Christmas and New Year.

Manage your stock smartly

Ordering new stock for Christmas? Start by revisiting your sales data from last year to determine your most likely best sellers, and combine these insights with a close look at current consumer trends. What flew off the shelves last Christmas? Could you reach new customers by offering new products?

Reach out to your suppliers as soon as possible - by acting early, you’ll leave yourself wiggle room to shop around for alternative suppliers if needed. An inventory management tool can make monitoring your existing stock a lot easier.

Schedule your employee rota efficiently

Understaffing puts a limit on the number of sales you can make, so try to ensure that you’ll always have enough staff at busy times. Turn to a rota management solution such as Findmyshift to simplify the process. A rota planning tool allows you to manage shifts with ease, deal with unexpected changes promptly, and see at a glance when you need to hire additional staff.

Invest in your online presence

The run-up to Christmas is a good time to revamp your website and reach out to old and new customers alike through your social media accounts. Last year, 42% of Christmas shopping in the UK was done online, so test your website well ahead of the peak shopping period to make sure that everything is running smoothly. Check that your website is mobile friendly too, or you could risk pushing 50% of your customers away.

Use social media to showcase your products and increase the visibility of your brand. Competitions and giveaways work particularly well on sites like Facebook and Instagram and can encourage people to share your content. Email campaigns are still effective too, so send out a festive newsletter to your mailing list.

Use promotions and other incentives

71% of British shoppers actively look for deals when Christmas shopping, so a well-timed sale or promotion could put you ahead of competition. Experiment with different strategies, such as vouchers, discounts, and free shipping. And be sure to get the word out early - 37% of Brits start buying gifts in November.

In the last few days before Christmas, woo any last minute shoppers with options that take the stress out of gift buying. Capture this market with a prominent display of ready-to-go gifts, or offer a gift-wrapping service in store. For online customers, consider offering click-and-collect as an alternative to home delivery.

Wrap the year up with a business health check

Do you want 2020 to be your best year in business yet? Prepare to put some time aside at the end of the year to take a good look at the previous 12 months. Analyse your sales data and expense figures to identify if profitability could be improved and how. Pay particular attention to past marketing efforts and promotional campaigns. Identify your most successful strategies and use your failures as signposts to new and improved tactics.

Take all these tips to heart and you can get your business ready for Christmas and New Year way ahead of time, giving you the edge on your competition as well as making the festive period itself a far less stressful time for you and your employees.  

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