The holiday season will arrive sooner than you think. Picture your store bustling with happy customers buying gifts and goodies for their loved ones. Sounds nice, doesn't it? You can turn that picture in your mind into reality. With so many retailers and online shops generating a significant chunk of revenue during the holidays, it pays to prepare early.
Over the last few years, eCommerce and retail website traffic has increased. Shoppers are buying online more often, and are beginning to shop earlier each year.
Before the holiday season gears up, there are practical things you can do to get ready.
Prepare Your Website to Handle Heavy Traffic
Online shopping can be a big draw for customers and be a big part of business for every brand—big and small.
To prepare for the influx of shoppers, and to protect their data, it's important that your website is ready to handle increased traffic. If your website is down when your customers are ready to buy, there's a good chance they may not return.
Before the holidays, follow some of these tips:
- Check in with your hosting company and confirm the servers are prepared for more traffic.
- Review your website and update your theme and any plugins.
- Do a few mock stress tests to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Prepare Your Store for Increased Foot Traffic
Just because online traffic has increased, it doesn't mean shoppers aren't still going to be buying the old-fashioned way—in-person in your store. As you start planning, make sure you follow local COVID guidelines for in-person shopping. Some of these strategies can help ensure you're keeping everyone safe and healthy.
To help ease excess foot traffic, consider taking a few ideas from big box stores.
- Offer curbside pickup.
- Allow for online pre-orders your customers can come and get in-store.
- Make sure you have clear signage and instructions to make the process quick and easy.
For in-store customers, develop a game plan:
- Clearly post your store hours, especially if extended for the holidays.
- Remove excess stock and clutter from the floor so it's easier for customers to move around, preventing potential liabilities.
- Create a defined checkout area and separate line.
Decide on the Right Days to Invest In
As a small business owner, you may not have the budget to do a full-out marketing blitz for the entire holiday season.
However, that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to help encourage your customers to shop with you over the competition. The key is to focus on being strategic and choosing the moments that give you an advantage.
Here are some tips small business owners should consider:
- Launch your deals a week early to beat the rush and entice early shoppers.
- Focus on highlighting shipping dates in your emails, and make those the priority. Let customers know the last day to buy to get a package delivered on time.
- Promote your business with Small Business Saturday sales and deals for customers who want to shop locally.
Protect Your Online Store
In all the rush to prepare for the holidays, you might end up forgetting one very important thing—protecting your store from cyberattacks.
If a nefarious hacker manages to infiltrate your site during the holiday season, they can do a lot of damage. They could take your site down, costing you a lot of potential revenue, and even worse, gain access to your customers' private information, exposing it online.
Beyond ensuring that your website is protected with security features, you also want to consider making that a part of your business liability insurance. Speak with your local independent insurance agent about how cyber liability insurance can help you protect your site and your customers from attacks and leaks.
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Make Sure Seasonal Employees Are Well-Trained
With more sales and foot traffic in your stores, it may mean more stress for your employees. That may end up having a negative impact on customer experience.
Since many small business owners hire seasonal employees, you want to ensure you're giving them everything they need to succeed. Here are a few suggestions:
- Have plenty of communication, and make sure all your employees feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.
- Create training materials your new employees can access easily during the onboarding process.
- Encourage teamwork among all your employees—both full-time and seasonal. Learning and training together can help improve employee engagement.
Prepare for Longer Processing and Shipping Times
There are always shipping concerns every holiday season. However, this year many of the major shipping carriers are seeing longer delays.
As you prepare for your holiday sales and events, make sure you are ready with the following tips:
- Communicate with your customers about potential shipping issues and delays ahead of time.
- Let customers know the last day they can buy online to get their packages on time.
- Train your customer support team to handle more "where is my order calls" so they can communicate with customers directly.
A Local Independent Insurance Agent Can Help
With the holidays fast approaching, reach out to your local trustedchoice.com agent to learn more about your insurance options. They can help you beef up your coverage for cyber security and ensure you have shipping protection when you need it.
They're there to support you, answer all of your questions, and ensure that you get coverage for your small business on all of the fronts needed during the holidays. If you don't have one, you can find an independent insurance agent today.