Sell Online

Holiday Season: Prepare Now, Profit Later

Article Rating: 3 / 5 Votes: 22

Category: Sell Online , Developing An Ecommerce Strategy

If you're a small business owner, odds are you've already started thinking about the upcoming holiday season. It may still be summer, but the perfect time to prepare your ecommerce business for the holiday rush is right now. By starting early, you can increase your chances of profiting later.

Summer is the perfect time to begin planning your business's holiday-season strategy. Since most shoppers usually wait until November to make the bulk of their holiday purchases, you still have time to research, plan, and prepare your business for a successful holiday rush.

So what should you start doing in August? Here are a few suggestions:

*Determine your target audience. August is the perfect month to figure out who your potential customers will be. Take a look at who your current customers are, and who your customers were during previous holiday seasons. By using this information, you can adjust your advertising and marketing campaigns to better appeal to your projected audience.

*Determine what your best-selling products will be. First, take a look at your inventory. Your current best-sellers could very well maintain this status during the holiday season, so promote them. If you have any new products that look promising, promote them as well. If your customers keep asking if you carry Product X, then by all means start stocking and promoting Product X.

Next, do a little research. Ask your customers, friends, and family what kind of gifts they're going to look for this holiday season. Browse the Internet for products that are starting to garner a lot of buzz, look up the current gift-giving trends, and look for articles that predict trends for the holiday season. Compare these results with your targeted customer demographic: If you have the products they're going to want, then promote them; if you don't have them, get them and start promoting.

*Increase your customer reach. If your business doesn't have a social media presence, now is the perfect time to get involved. Most social media outlets are free-TwitterTM, Facebook®, MySpace®, and LinkedIn® are all 100% free services that are actually effective. Once you join these sites, you can start conversations with potential customers and keep them updated on your store's new products, sales, promotions, and so forth. You can also use these sites to research product trends, as discussed above.

*Cater to pre-shoppers. Although a lot of shoppers wait to actually purchase gifts until later in the fall, their research begins much sooner than that. With the economy in its current state, consumers want to be sure that they are spending their money wisely. They want to feel confident that the products they purchase are both high in quality and worth their cost, so they turn to the Internet for gift ideas, product reviews, and price comparisons.

If your business has a website or an ecommerce store, you can include SEO-friendly content that appeals to your target audience. Do a little keyword research, and include relevant keywords in your product descriptions and site content. Offer shopping advice, promote hot products, and include a ‘related items' list for each product in your inventory. By making more of your products visible, you're exposing your customers to more possible gift ideas. This can result in more sales for your store.

If you own a brick-and-mortar store, find a way to feature promising products. This can be done via an email newsletter, through in-store ads, on your business' website, or through product recommendations by in-store sales associates. Never underestimate the power of persuasion: If your customers feel that you are truly passionate about Product X, they will be more likely to consider purchasing Product X.

*Adjust your budget. The holiday season is not the time to skimp on spending. Think about all the costs that could-and probably will-go up: shipping costs will rise; you may need to keep your business open for longer hours, resulting in more pay to your employees; you may need to hire extra staff to keep up with order demand; and it is critical to boost your advertising efforts during the holidays. As the old adage goes, "You need to spend money to make money." By preparing your business for an increase in costs, you're also improving your chances for an increase in revenue.

*Plan your promotions. Since August is a little early to start running holiday shopping promotions, use this month to plan them. First make a list of promotions that will work for your store. Some popular promotions include free shipping offers, ‘spend more, save more' deals, percentage-off sales, and ‘deal-of-the-week' promotions. After you decide which promotions you'd like to utilize, figure out when you're going to implement them, and determine how you're going to market these promotions. Include your promotions everywhere you can-on your website, via email newsletters, in newspaper advertisements, through customer mail, via your Facebook® page and other social media outlets, and so on. If your customers are not aware of your promotions, your business will not benefit from them.

The holidays can be stressful for everyone, especially retailers. With so much potential profit on the line, it's best to start thinking about the holiday season while it's still months away. Preparing your small business for a successful, profitable holiday season doesn't have to be hard-think ahead, start planning, and get ready to profit!