We’re about to enter mid-November, which means you’ve probably begun ramping up for the holiday season, a bustling time when shopping and family is on everyone’s minds — even beyond Small Business Saturday.
In, fact, the International Council of Shopping Centers predicts that shoppers will spend $807 billion this holiday season, with $685 billion spent on gifts and other holiday items and $122 billion on food and beverage.
And, as a small business, you’re ready to get your share of the pie. Ensure a larger share of success this holiday season by avoiding these mistakes:
1. Start Too Late
Holidays like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday get a lot of hype, but many shoppers actually start way before then. Nearly 45 percent of respondents of a RetailMeNot survey said they plan to start holiday shopping before Nov. 1 even.
And, if consumers are starting early, it means you’ve got to have your business ready to go by then! What all does that entail? Know what sales and promotions you’re going to have and when, how you’re going to let shoppers know about them and ensure you have enough in stock to last you through the holiday season.
2. Think Your Staffing Levels Will Do
Think you have enough staff to get you through the season? Think again. The last thing you’ll want is to have too few employees to service customers — whether in-store, online or both — during your peak hours and days. A bad customer experience can last long after the holiday season. (Read our pointers on seasonal hiring here.)
3. Run Out of Stock and Other Supplies
There are many ways to keep track of your inventory. If you’ve got a management system, create alerts when items get low or even set up automatic reordering. If not, be sure to keep daily tabs on your stock so you’re not caught off guard.
And, while you may be keying in on the products and services you sell, don’t forget your regular, run-of-the-mill items, like office supplies or packaging.
4. Reduce Your Advertising and/or Marketing Budget
If you’re thinking this is the time of year to reduce your advertising and marketing budget, you’re wrong. Nearly half of the RetailMeNot survey respondents said that they will choose to shop at a store based on the deals they find. But, how will anyone find your deals if you’re not advertising them?
Also, keep in mind that today’s consumers are as informed as ever, doing research about the products and services in which they’re interested before buying. And rounding back to our first point, don’t wait too late to start getting your business out there: the longer you wait, the more likely it is that your consumers will have already purchased what they want or need.
5. Stay Away from Digital
There are a few facets to this one, with one of the most important being to make sure that your website is updated with your latest products and promotions, in part because some experts, like Deloitte, expect more than half of holiday spending to come from online shopping.
Add in the fact that most consumer research on products and services will take place online, and you’ll see why this is not a space to dismiss. Place ads for your target audiences, use social media to promote your business, design holiday-themed landing pages, start holiday-themed email campaigns and even offer digital coupons — all on your Kinetic Internet; the possibilities are endless!
6. Forget about the Customer Experience
A good customer experience for a first-timer to your store can be the foundation to a long-lasting relationship. That said, this is where you can shine over your retail-giant competitors. Small businesses have the magic touch of personalization — whether it’s an end-of-year “thank you” card, providing small gifts or even sustenance like hot chocolate and having a special sale for your loyal customers. A little bit can go a long way.
7. Forget about Life after the Holidays
The fourth quarter may seem completely holiday-centric, but remember there’s life outside of these dates! For one, you may have more consumers aware of your business and brand because of holiday shopping. Nurture them so they, too, become loyal customers.
And, the end of a year means you’re likely seeing how your budgeted income stacked up with your actual bottom line. Start getting those numbers in order for the impending tax season!
Dodge these bullets this holiday season to make the most of these next few months.
And let our Kinetic Business by Windstream team help give your business a competitive edge with products and services, including our newest — Always-On — to ensure your network never fails in one of the most important times of the year.