For many retail business owners, the 4th Quarter is their busiest and most profitable time of the year. For some retailers, the 4th Quarter can generate the same amount of sales as the 9 months prior to that. This makes for a very busy last quarter! Whether you have that kind of volume in Q4 or not, most retailers are busy, so you need to do some holiday prep for the busy season!
Before you start preparing, be sure to sit back and think about your last holiday season. What worked well, what didn’t, where did you need help, where could you make improvements, what were your customers asking for or what feedback did you receive, what do your inventory reports tell you, etc. It’s important to take these things into consideration before you start holiday prep for the upcoming holiday season.
Whether this is your first holiday season in a brick-and-mortar store or you’re a seasoned veteran, here are some holiday prep tips to help you start preparing now.
#1: CREATE A MARKETING AND EVENTS CALENDAR
You can do this digitally or on a paper calendar. Start planning your events, extended holiday hours, and holiday-related events like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. You’ll feel more prepared and organized with this all written down. Plus, it helps with social media posting and scheduling, too.
#2: ORDER MARKETING MATERIALS
Postcards, promotional scratch-off cards, flyers, brochures. Whether you design these yourself or have someone design them for you, get started early and have these printed before it gets too busy.
#3: ORDER GIFT WRAP AND TISSUE
This is a nice perk to offer your customers. If you don’t have the staff or space to offer gift wrapping, consider purchasing some holiday tissue to add to your shopping bags. Your customers will appreciate one less gift to wrap!
#4: PLAN YOUR FLOOR LAYOUT
Start planning the layout of your store for the holiday season. Giving your store a fresh look is always a good idea. For the holiday season, you might shift some merchandise displays around or add some extra display space near your cash wrap for stocking stuffers or small ornaments. These last-second small purchases can add up for your business over the holiday season.
#5: DESIGN WINDOW DISPLAYS AND IN-STORE DECORATIONS
4th Quarter is the ideal season to invest a little more into your window display! With so many people shopping for the holidays, you want to draw customers into your store with an eye-catching window display. Cover all of the senses and keep the holiday cheer going in-store with decorations, holiday music and a nice scent in your shop.
#6: PREP INVENTORY
Foot traffic will increase and you don’t want to be in your backroom working on inventory during the holiday season. Hopefully, you are starting to receive your holiday merchandise now and if you are, you want to start unboxing, pricing, and organizing this merchandise so it’s easy to find and bring out as the season moves along.
Inventory management is extremely important in a retail business. You’ll want to log the products in your Point of Sale system, track the cost of goods, and run reports so you know what’s selling well and what might need to be marked down so you aren’t stuck with it at the end of the season.
#7: SHOP CLOSEOUTS FOR PROMOTIONS AND GIVEAWAYS
You might be in the habit of offering a percentage discount to your customers during a holiday store event, but customers love FREE. Take the time to look at your vendor’s closeout offers now. Look for some great deals on items that you can give your customers for FREE with an in-store purchase.
#8: PLAN ADVERTISING
Get your print ads and social media ads ready! You’ll want to work on advertisements for Facebook, Instagram, local bulletins, neighborhood newspapers, magazines, and more. Don’t have a graphic designer? Use Canva!
#9: SCHEDULE A PHOTOSHOOT
Images from a professional photographer are ideal for social media and can help fill up your posting schedule on Facebook and Instagram!
New, fresh, and branded photos are a great way to promote your store, holiday merchandise, your staff, and you too. Believe it or not, your customers WANT to know about YOU. If it’s in your budget, schedule a photo shoot for your store. If it’s not in your budget, ask a friend or family member who’s good with a camera to take some pictures for you.
#10: CREATE A HOLIDAY SELFIE-STATION IN YOUR STORE!
Give your customers a reason to take photos in your store and share them on social media. There’s no better way to do this than with a selfie station or photo backdrop in your store. Click here for tips on how to create this fun and affordable marketing tool for your business.
#11: PLAN FOR EXTENDED STORE HOURS
It may not make sense to have extended hours all-year long, however offering more hours in the evening or extending weekend hours (ie. Opening on Sundays) will help you serve your customers better and it will most likely generate more revenue in your business, particularly in December.
#12 HIRE SEASONAL HELP
Based on your current staffing and your expected sales, you might need to hire some additional help. Start planning for this now. Post an ad, share on social media that you’re hiring, post a sign in your store and start interviewing. You want to find the right person for your brand and your store so invest some time in this process. That way, you don’t feel rushed into hiring the first person that applies.
My most important piece of holiday prep advice is to get AHEAD of the holiday season! It’s important that you take care of yourself and enjoy it too.