For most businesses Christmas is the busiest time of the year. Whether you are selling to consumers or B2B, the increase in activity can be overwhelming for businesses that aren’t prepared. The key to having a successful Christmas period is proper planning. We have highlighted the four biggest issues that businesses will need to plan for over Christmas.
1. Inventory Management
It’s always important to properly manage your stock, but this becomes even more important over the Christmas period. The two biggest worries when it comes to stock are having too much stock leftover after Christmas and not having enough stock to keep up with customer demand. These problems can be avoided by properly forecasting sales. Looking at how much product you sold last year, whether your overall sales have grown throughout the year, and what increase in sales you expect from marketing efforts are all important questions that need to be factored into your inventory decisions.
Are you appropriately staffed for the Christmas rush? Customers still expect good service over the Christmas period even if your store is packed with shoppers. Having a bad experience at a store or online can put them off ever shopping at your store again so it’s critical that your staff are well trained, know what they are doing and are able to serve customers quickly. If an experienced staff member has to spend time training and teaching new staff, they will have less time to look after customers. Another important staff consideration is Holiday leave, are any of your full time or casual staff going away over Christmas? If so, their shifts will need to be covered and the impact this has on cash flow and other parts of the business need to be considered.
3. Christmas Promotions
Christmas is one of the most competitive times of the year for retail businesses as everyone competes for consumers’ Christmas dollars, it’s almost expected that retailers will have some kind of Christmas special going. Discounts, gift-wrapping and free shipping are just a few of the promotions used by retailers to gain the attention of consumers. Starting promotions early can help you get a head start on the competition, and online advertising can help spread the word about your specials at a relatively low cost. In a recent social media report Yellow found that 62% of consumers who follow a brand on Facebook are most interested in learning about discounts, so taking advantage of free advertising on social media is a must.
4. Organise Refunds
If customers are giving your products away as Christmas gifts then there is always a chance that they may want to return or exchange the item, and if you do not have a clearly set out return/refund policy then you may encounter some customer service problems down the road. Make sure that if the customer is buying a present for someone, they have a clear idea of if and how the product can be exchanged or refunded.