August is upon us and that means we’re inching closer to the busiest shopping season of the year. So I need to ask, “are you ready?”
This year, Thanksgiving falls late which means the period between Black Friday and Christmas is a week shorter. If you’re like me, that means I have even less time to get all my Christmas shopping done. It also means store owners need to plan ahead to make sure they’re ready to take on all those last-minute shoppers.
Here are some of my top tips for making sure you’re ready:
Get Inventory In Place Now – some of your best sellers may be hard to get once the holiday gets closer. If you are anticipating big holiday sales on certain popular items, make sure you’re well-stocked ahead of time to avoid disappointment and lost sales.
Organize Your Warehouse for Quick Picking – get orders picked quickly by placing your most popular items at the front of the pick line so your warehouse staff isn’t wasting time walking long distances to get items. Having hot moving items close by will allow more orders to get out in less time.
Offer Pre-Holiday Deals – there’s nothing wrong with getting ahead of the game by offering your customers special deals and offers to get them to purchase ahead of the rush.
Start Planning Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Promos Now – start negotiating with your manufacturers and suppliers now on what type of promotions you’re going to run for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This gives both of you time to work out the details, make sure inventory will be sufficient, and it’s the best possible deal you can offer.
Negotiate Shipping Rates – this is something you should be doing with UPS and FedEx every year, but with the holiday coming up, it’s a great time to speak with your account representative to discuss options for discounted express delivery.
Get Your Marketing Calendar Finalized – your customers are going to expect to hear from you via email marketing and social media. If you’ve been negligent in managing those channels, now is the time to get back on track. You should be engaging your customers on a very regular basis, not just before the holidays. Create a marketing calendar with dates for social promotions and email blasts and stick to the dates. I recommend at least two email blasts per month and at least three updates per week on your social channels.
Beef Up Staff – this is one area small business owners often ignore. If you’re struggling with getting orders out now, or unable to answer calls and emails in a timely fashion, you’re going to drown during the holiday. If you need additional help in customer service or your warehouse, don’t wait until the last minute to hire. You’re going to have plenty of first-time customers, don’t make them one-and-done customers by providing them with sub-par service because you couldn’t keep up.
Put Together a Shipping Schedule – customers want to know when is the drop-dead date to place an order so it arrives on time. Create a shipping schedule and place it on your site that lets them know the last day they can order per shipping method to guarantee in-time delivery. Keep in mind, you need to abide by it and get those orders out on time!
Finally, here are some important key dates to keep in mind when putting together your holiday game-plan:
- Thursday, November 28, 2019 – Thanksgiving
- Friday, November 29, 2019 – Black Friday
- Saturday, November 30, 2019 – Small Business Saturday
- Monday, December 2, 2019 – Cyber Monday
- Monday, December 9, 2019 – Green Monday
- Tuesday, December 27, 2019 – Free Shipping Day
- December 22 – 30, 2019 – Hanukkah
- Tuesday, December 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve
- Wednesday, December 25, 2019 – Christmas Day
- Tuesday, December 31, 2019 – New Year’s Eve
- Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – New Year’s Day
Have some tips of your own you want to share with other eCommerce store owners? Share them in the comments section!
Scott Sanfilippo began his eCommerce journey in 1994 by co-founding one of the Internet’s first online retailers, TheFerretStore.com, which was acquired by PetCo in 2006. In 2001, he co-founded the eCommerce design and marketing firm Solid Cactus, which was acquired by web.com in 2009. Today, Scott is the General Manager of Your Store Wizards and lives in Delray Beach, FL. Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.