The stretch from Black Friday to Christmas is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. Although the official “holiday season” is only one month long, it accounts for roughly 30 percent of annual retail sales.
Whether you run a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce site, the 30 days after Thanksgiving is when you should be pulling out all the stops.
Though, even if you’re a non-retailer for whom the holidays is the slowest period of the year, you can still use this time to improve your business in creative ways.
Below is a mix of strategies to get started. Implementing these can help you get the most out of the holidays — no matter what your business is.
Holiday Tips for Busy Retailers
We’ll begin with tips that are specific to retailers. All of the strategies below are designed to help you maximize your slice of the multibillion-dollar holiday shopping pie.
1. Plan Well
It’s very important that you greet the holidays well-prepared. If you’ve ever seen a Black Friday montage, you’ll know exactly why. There’s not a whole lot of room for error when dealing with hordes of emotional, bargain-hungry shoppers.
Thorough planning is essential:
- Have all your inventory and decorations lined up long before the holiday season arrives. Placing last-minute orders is both risky and expensive.
- Make sure your website is up to snuff. Download speeds should be fast, and the navigation should be intuitive (especially for mobile users).
- Ensure that your payment processing adheres to the latest PCI compliance standards. Fraud is rampant during the shopping season, so you need to protect your payment environment from chargebacks, data breaches, friendly fraud and other types of abuse.
- Have a customer loyalty program already in place. The holidays may be the busiest shopping period of the year. However, with the right outreach, you can keep customers coming back during the other months, as well.
2. Discount Everything
This one is a no-brainer, but during the holiday season is when you should offer the steepest discounts possible. That’s because Americans are in a spending mood — provided that what you’re selling is on “sale.”
Just to give you an idea, the five-day stretch from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday generated almost $20 billion in 2017.
Many billions more await those retailers that continue offering discounts during the remaining 25 days of the holiday shopping season.
3. Offer Free Shipping
Many retailers cringe at the idea of free shipping, but customers increasingly expect this complimentary service — especially during the holidays.
In fact, there’s even an unofficial National Free Shipping Day sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It consistently outperforms Black Friday when it comes to revenue.
You may be able to save money by not offering free shipping. However, you’ll also lose out on all of that sales potential — both during the holiday season and throughout the rest of the year.
So, it’s worth reconsidering.
Now, let’s dive into more universal holiday tips that any business can use.
Holiday Tips for Everyone Else
Is the holiday season one of the slowest periods for your organization? You can use this annual lull to your advantage by looking for opportunities to make your operations more profitable.
Below are some tips to get you started.
4. Start Planning for Next Year
If business starts to slow down during the holiday season, consider mapping out your goals for 2019 (or beyond). This planning must eventually happen anyway. Starting now means you can hit the ground running when the new year begins.
Not quite sure what your goals are yet?
Not a problem. You can start by:
- Analyzing some of the biggest trouble spots from the previous 12 months
- Monitoring whatever progress you made with 2018’s New Year’s resolutions
- Mapping out a new set of New Year’s resolutions for 2019 and beyond
5. Maximize Time Off
Let’s be honest. With everybody’s minds on family and travel, it’s very difficult to focus on traditional business activities. It’s like trying to teach algebra to a group of high schoolers — in the final days before summer break.
Instead of holding your employees hostage at their desks, let them have a little fun:
- If you’ve been toying with the idea of telecommuting or flextime, the holiday season is the perfect time to start.
- Want to liven up the workplace a little bit? Take some creative cues from National Fun at Work Day.
If at all possible, consider letting your employees start their vacations a little early. They’ll come back from the holidays even more refreshed and productive than ever before.
6. Give, Give and Give
There’s never a bad occasion to donate time and money to those who are less fortunate, but the holidays are tailor-made for charitable giving — whether you want to participate in:
- Food drives for the homeless
- Gift-giving for needy kids
- Fundraising for worthy causes
Countless opportunities to donate already exist, allowing you to get up and running as quickly as possible. Though if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can always launch your own charitable campaign from scratch.
Just make sure that whatever causes you support are aligned with your organization’s values. Doing so maximizes the impact of your efforts. It also makes it easier to raise awareness of whatever issue to which you’re trying to bring attention.
As a bonus, charitable giving is a tax write-off that you can claim right before the calendar year officially ends.
Want More Business Tips for the Holiday Season?
It doesn’t matter if the holiday season is the busiest time of year or the slowest. Using the six strategies outlined above can help make your organization happier, healthier and more profitable.
If you’d like to see even more tips, follow our blog today.