Preparing your business for the festive season
Christmas is, for most service and product-based businesses, a magical time of year and also one of the most important times for sales and customer engagement in business. In order to maximise its potential, you need to be ready to deliver.
Christmas is a stressful time of year for your customers who are already juggling jobs/families/businesses/festivity planning. They have the pressures of getting the right present, having the best time and looking their best on an evening out and finding the most delicious food and drink to be the ‘host with the most’. They are looking for something a little bit special both in terms of products and services as well as the experience that these bring. They want to feel festive, they want to feel the magic, and they are looking for stress-free experiences. So, are you able to deliver this?
This requires planning and the preparation is a full-time task. If you haven’t started preparing your business for Christmas yet, get onto it right away! Timing is critical as you need to ensure you have the right stock, the right services, delivered at the right time and displayed in ways that both engage and excite your customers. You will also need to make sure your customers are aware of your festive offers, so having a marketing campaign that reaches out to your customers is a must if you want to take advantage of the increased sales that the festive season can bring.
Things to do for Christmas:
Write a festive newsletter to keep your customers up to date with any offers that you are promoting during the Christmas period. It is the best way to get hold of as many of your past customers as possible without investing too much money. Make sure you have the right permissions on your customer database and use this to maximise the reach of the campaign.
Offering discounts on deliveries during the run up to Christmas is a great way to get your customers to talk about you and to recommend you to their friends. If you can afford to offer free delivery, then do so. It’s one of the defining factors for customers to make a decision on whether to purchase from you or not and at a time where there are many businesses competing for every customer they can get. Consider offering ‘Next Day Deliveries’ at a discount price, this is always an attractive offer for those last-minute shoppers!
Offer a Christmas promotional calendar. Offering a discount on certain items for just one day or week and that changes every day is a great way to have shoppers coming back for more every day to see what they next offer might be. It’s also a great way to build your database and encourage return custom.
Remember to ask newly registering customers if you can market to them moving forward.
Christmas themed blog posts are a nice way to engage with your customers. Outline your offers, write about great present ideas or maybe just talk about topical themes that will entice your customers to your business. Things that I like to read about are guest etiquette, Christmas traditions and Christmas party ideas. Think carefully about your audience and the topics that might attract them to your business.
Using social media during the Christmas time this is crucial and will get you great results if done well.
It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a significant audience and there are so many different options to explore. Twitter is an easy way to keep your customers up-to-date on your latest offers, you could use Facebook to get the word out about a competition that you might be running at the moment in the run up to Christmas. You can use Instagram to post pictures of Christmas present ideas that you might have for your customers and of your products set in a Christmas setting. With Pinterest you’re able to make holiday specific boards where you can pin products from your shop with a creative description of the products, the price and how that product would be an ideal present. Think carefully about the media channels that fit in with your business and use these to their full advantage.
Christmas shapes the business year and for many businesses, determines whether they’re going to end up being profitable in any given year. When you have a retail or online store, the week after Christmas can make or break your entire year. Prepare to make the most of it by having a plan for the new year. Post-season for most businesses starts 2nd January. It is important that you include post season in your plan so that you are ready to make the most of the New Year opportunities including taking down festive decorations, putting on sales, new displays and offers.
Remember, credit card fraud tends to increase over the festive season and fraudsters are always at the ready to cash in on unsuspecting customers.
Make sure you have the right technical and organisational measures in place to protect any data that you are processing on your customer’s behalf and be prepared for action if you find you have a data breach. Mitigating losses is always down to how quickly you and your business react when you detect a breach and doing this well will enhance your customers’ experience. One way that your business can help prevent credit card fraud is by ensuring that all your staff are aware of these suspicious behaviours that may indicate someone’s about to try paying for a purchase with a counterfeit or stolen credit card.
Think carefully about your terms and conditions and refund/exchange policies. Are these legally compliant and will you be changing them to accommodate festive shoppers? Customer Service is a huge opportunity for your business to shine; delivering excellent customer service will not only help your tills to ring but will ultimately bring those customers back in the New Year. Make sure you have staff to cover to festive period to deliver your customer service standards.
Above all, remember, customers are not just for Christmas!