Summer is nearly over already and it’s time to start seriously thinking about the upcoming holiday season. And it’s never too early to start the prep work. Black Friday may signal the unofficial start of the shopping season, but if you’re waiting until then to plan for the business, you might as well lock the front doors and hunker down in the corner.
Heck, even some shoppers are already gearing up for holiday deals. So why aren’t you?
One of the most effective things you can do is review your last year in order to get a rough idea of what this season is going to look like. You should have, or pretty easily create, a general high-concept overview of what you’ll really need in terms of staffing, stock, and specials.
Of course, you’ll need to tweak this overview as crunch time closes in, but for now you’re just doing the prep work—laying the groundwork for a successful season.
Whether you’re a year-round shop, a seasonal restaurant, a hotelier, tire retailer, or airport service, below you’ll find seven steps that will help you create an effective plan of attack for the holiday season.
Every year there seems to be a prevailing trend that absolutely every retailer jumps on. From Tickle Me Elmo to Keurig brewing machines, you can bet that this holiday season won’t be any different. If you want to secure a steady supply chain, you’re going to have to start researching those trends early. The last thing you want to do is run out of that one item that can make or break your profitability.
Plan Your Holiday Placement
Rearranging your store may seem like a hassle, but if you don’t take the effort to place the hot items in plain view, you may be missing out on a huge profit center. One method of cashing in is to highlight those items that everyone will be looking for. This may be easy or tricky depending on your industry and market trends.
Another method is to use effective cross selling, and highlight low-cost/high-profit items that will make a hefty clink in your cash register at the checkout.
Secure Your Supply Chains
Restaurants, hard goods retailers, and even grocers are going to want to secure their supply chains now in order to ensure they have enough of the essential products to satisfy customer demand. It’s important that you look over last year’s numbers and see how much you sold of what.
The next step is getting in touch with your wholesaler and ensuring there will be enough of everything to go around. Sometimes you can even negotiate a better price when you buy in bulk. If your current supplier isn’t able to meet the demand, for whatever reason, find an alternative supplier or an alternative product pronto.
You have to have something to fill that gap, or else it’s money out of your pocket.
Consumers are now relying on their mobile devices not only for pre-shopping activities like planning sales and collecting coupons, but now for shopping in the store as well. That’s why it behooves your retail business to “get appy.”
If you don’t have the funds to build an in-store app from the ground up, use already existing apps like Foursquare, Red Laser, and Aislebuyer to allow your shoppers to get the most out of your brick and mortar storefront.
Arrange for Storage Solutions
Chances are you’re going to be buying in bulk if you plan on doing any sort of business this holiday season. More than likely, you won’t have the room to store all of that product in-house. That means it’s time to negotiate a storage facility or think about the options you have available to you.
For smaller retailers, simply using the spare bedroom in your home might be an optimal solution. For larger retailers, you’re going to need to secure storage units, warehouse space, or even refrigerated semitrailers to temporarily house everything you plan on selling.
It’s time to speak with service providers in your area to lock in your spot—and your prices—for the upcoming season.
Hire On The Help
Now is the time to secure your seasonal help. Unless you’re bringing back returning crew members, you’re going to need time for orientation, training, and onboarding before your new hires are up to speed.
While it may seem like a bit of an unnecessary expense to bring seasonal individuals on this early, you’ll see the ROI when their improved efficiency and effectiveness translate into fewer billable hours and happier customers.
Plan for the Worst
Holiday season is retail crunch time. Unfortunately, that means that even the tiniest of setbacks, like an employee call-out or a misplaced order, can cripple a retailer if they’re not prepared to compensate.
You should always plan for the worst. Whether than means having extra, expendable employees in-store or having ready access to a list of willing volunteers to fill the holes, you need to have your plan in place now.
Your staff really is the backbone of your company. Employees affect everything from gross sales to customer satisfaction, so it’s really worth your time to place extra emphasis on staffing needs. While you can recover from ordering missteps fairly easily, losing one or more of your seasonal workers partway into the holiday rush could signal disaster—and more than few late nights.
One pro tip is to hire soon, train vigorously, and reward your seasonal workers well. It may seem unfair, but you may even want to consider compensating them above and beyond what your regular employees might currently make—they will, after all, be carrying the brunt of your holiday business.
Nothing worth having comes easy. The holiday shopping season may sometimes end up being a nightmare, but it can also be one of the most lucrative times of the year for your business. Take the steps to prepare your store well before Black Friday rolls around, and you may even be feeling a little jolly yourself.7 Steps to Effective Black Friday Prep Chad Halvorson