Summer may only just be behind us, but the holiday season is closer than you think. A small business can live and die based on how it performs during these crucial months of the year, so it’s essential that you prepare your business so that you’re ready for what lies ahead.
Consider the times
A crucial step when prepping for the 2021 holiday shopping season is the current state of the world. With COVID-19 still very much a global concern, it’s imperative you let your customers know their health and safety are top priorities.
Ted Waldron and James Wetherbe, both professors for the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, suggest several strategies in an article on the Harvard Business Review. This includes humanizing your company by expressing empathy and understanding, which you can do by telling customers what your business is doing to adapt in the face of change. Reassure your customers you are adhering to certain safety protocols in your physical space, including mask policies, sanitizing, cleaning, and spacing.
You should also be clear and forthcoming about how the pandemic is affecting your business as it relates to hours, staffing, production, prices, and shipping among other things. Though things may seem somewhat rosier than they did last holiday season, it’s critical you reinforce the ways that your business is taking the pandemic seriously.
Start staffing early
If you tend to hire seasonal employees for your business, don’t wait until right before Black Friday to bring in the help that you need. Holly Hanchey writes for the Yelp blog that seasonal employees will need more time than usual for onboarding because you’ll need to bring them up to speed on both business-specific procedures and COVID-19 protocols.
Treat the process of hiring seasonal workers the same as you would with year-round hourly employees. You can also think of it as an opportunity to bring in fresh talent who could potentially stay on and help grow your business after the holiday season. If you’re merely looking for a few extra hands to get through a couple of months, however, A.J. Agrawal writes for Inc. that you could use a temporary employment agency or service for seasonal hiring needs.
Tidy up your web presence
Irrespective of COVID-19, more consumers are doing the bulk of their shopping and research online. This means it’s essential your business listings and website are current and accurate. A great place to start, Hanchey notes, is to check your Yelp Business Page and Google Business listing for information that might need updating.
Business strategist Katie Hunt of Entrepreneur writes that updating your website should be one of your top priorities ahead of the holiday season. This should include making sure your hours, prices, and contact information are correct. You’ll also want to test out online shopping functionality so you can be confident that customers have a smooth end-to-end experience. Hunt also suggests considering adding extra payment options and automating emails to customers who leave your website without checking out to encourage them to come back to their carts.
If you take action before the temperatures even have the chance to drop, you’ll be in the driver’s seat and well ahead of the rush. With proper preparation, you can be confident your holiday season will prove a fruitful one for your business.