If you are like us, it seems like we're just barely recovering from the last Christmas season when we suddenly realize that next Christmas is right around the corner!
There is a lot of planning that goes into a great Christmas Season, and we'd like to share some of the things that we do to make the holidays a success.
The fact is that this reflection should really happen in January or February, but if you're just getting around to it in August, that is okay. The key is to look back on last year's Q4 and see what went well, and what may need to be adjusted. For example, did you have enough sales staff to fill in during extended sales hours?
Did you run out of any supplies like shopping bags or worse, did you run out of inventory (more on that later)? Did you extend shopping hours, and did you see sufficient sales during those hours to justify the same hours this year? These are all questions that help you really be prepared for the upcoming sales season, and we encourage you to spend some time looking back and reflecting on what went well, and what can be improved.
2- Create your holiday schedule
Once you know what worked last year, take a look at the calendar for this coming year and create a proposed schedule so that you can plan for holiday staffing levels. This helps you know if you need to hire anyone for the holidays, and gives your current employees some awareness of expectations.
It is nice to do this as early as you can because you'll want those new staff members fully trained in time for the holiday crowds!
3- Check and refresh your holiday decorations
Not only can your decorations suffer from normal wear and tear, but sometimes you've held on to decorations long enough that they start to look outdated. Your holiday decorations are a great way to strengthen your brand and so keeping them looking nice and fresh is important.
We'll usually do this a little later in Q3 since many places that we get new decor from don't start selling Christmas stuff until September or October. That said, we want to make sure we have a well thought out shopping list by that time!
4- Plan your marketing campaign
Are you going to send out emails to a mailing list? What about your local newspaper or community publications? You might also have a chance to hand out flyers or some other way to drive traffic. Late summer is definitely time to start making those plans. Don't forget social media and your website. make sure all the images are fresh and show product you still carry. Make sure that links work, and you are posting on social media consistently to get the algorithms to show your posts to your customers.
5-Plan your big events
Do you do a big sale on Black Friday? Or maybe you do a 12 days of Christmas sale during the first few days of December.
One thing that can be successful depending on your area is attending a local Christmas fair. It is important to plan in advance what your sales will be so that you can make sure you have enough inventory, which leads us into the final and most important topic...
6- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH INVENTORY!
We've all been burned by running out of best sellers way too early. In some cases, you can lead a customer to an alternative, but we've all had that experience of seeing the customer turn right back around and leaving the store if we are out of the thing they planned on buying. You'll also find that your manufacturers will run out of items as the season goes along. Ordering early can make a huge difference in whether you get the product you need in time.
Hopefully this helps as you plan for your holiday season!