Setting up for seasonal success
Here’s how to set yourself up for unparalleled success next quarter.
1. Find out what your customers really want
Lots of guides will tell you to look at last’s year’s sales, industry news, and trade shows. We know you’re already doing that so it’s time to get creative. Dig into your social media engagement, check your site search metrics, or even poll loyal customers to find out if there are any brands or products that they’d love to see added to your offerings.
2. Create your holiday marketing and sales strategy
For many retailers, the holidays mean a revenue boost, but they’re also a prime time for competition. Even if you’re confident in your current marketing and sales strategy, it’s a good idea to review it and make sure it’s holiday-worthy. Take a few minutes to lay out your plan for the holiday season. It might refocus your energy and give you a chance to evaluate how your strategy has served you over the past year.
By identifying your primary marketing and sales tactics, including how they compare to your competition, you can make sure that they support your inventory or vice versa.
As you revise, make sure you account for things like doorbusters, specific brand or product promotions, bundle deals, and unique items that will draw customers to your store instead of to your competition.
3. Cover all your sales channels
It’s one thing to manage sales for your brick and mortar. In theory, you have a general idea of how much foot traffic you can expect and when. But if you have an online presence, things can get a bit more complex.
As you consider your inventory needs, take into account any online traffic and any upcoming online marketing efforts. For instance, will things like Black Friday doorbusters be available to customers online and in store? Will you have different deals and promotions that will impact inventory counts?
Be honest with your expectations. If this is your first year online and you have minimal traffic, unless you plan to make some significant changes or are extending sales to marketplaces like Amazon, you may not see a dramatic lift. On the other hand if you’ve put a lot of effort into growing your online presence, and those efforts have proven to be fruitful, you’ll need to factor that into your inventory needs.
4. Plan for the whole holiday, not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday
First, there was Black Friday, then there was Cyber Monday. And now…well, it seems like there is a themed shopping day once a week. And, since more and more businesses are vying for consumer attention, the traditional “big” shopping days don’t hold as much weight as they once did.
As you make inventory decisions, make sure you factor in additional sales days, like Small Business Saturday and Green Monday, as well as any local or national events that may increase traffic to your store.
A successful holiday season shouldn’t rest squarely on one or two specific days, even if they give your business a bigsales boost. Plan for the whole season, whether that means stocking for the post-Halloween early-bird shopper or the last-minute maverick hitting stores on December 23. Check your sales history to get a good idea of what category your customers fall into.
5. Estimate costs and have a plan for payment
“You have to spend money to make money,” or so they say. And when it comes to holiday planning, the cliche remains true. In perfect times, you’ll have enough working capital to manage an uptick in inventory, marketing, and staffing costs. But for many business owners, that’s just not the case.
One of the most best ways to set yourself up for success is to estimate costs and determine what you can afford and how you’ll pay for it. If you don’t have enough working capital on hand, now is the time to review your funding options.
Not all funding solutions are equal. Some, like business loans from traditional banks and credit unions, may have longer application processes and more stringent eligibility requirements. Others, like QuickBooks Capital, offer lending solutions that fit the needs of a variety of business profiles and can fund loans in as little as 1-2 business days after approval.
If you want to have a record-breaking holiday season, you need to do a fair amount of planning. And if you haven’t started thinking about inventory yet, now’s the time to get started. This can help you lock in the products and deals that you want and prepare you to make important decisions about financing one of the most lucrative times of the year.