By Rieva Lesonsky
Summer’s almost over and, believe it or not, it is time to plan for the holiday season. Whatever your small business, shoppers are always in a buying mood during the holidays and if you want to grab your share of all that spending, you need to get started early—because your small business success depends on being ahead of the game. Here are five ways to get started:
- Check your mobility. What does your website look like on a smartphone? What about a tablet? Last year 51 percent of shoppers planned to avoid the malls and shop from home, and you can be sure this year those numbers will be even higher. Make sure your mobile website is simple with big icons to click on. Avoid too many graphics or images that take a long time to load. Shoppers won’t wait around for your website to show up; instead, they’ll move on to your competitor’s site.
- Hire for the rush. Do you have enough staff to work during the holidays? Don’t only consider salespeople, but think about having enough staff to fulfill orders, answer customer service questions, send out email marketing messages and handle social media posts (Facebook and Pinterest are the biggest sources of social networking traffic for retail websites.)
- Avoid shopping cart abandonment. There are many solutions available that you can add to your website to keep shoppers engaged until they purchase—and even increase the final purchase amount. Activate add-ons such as real-time popups asking if they have any questions or would like any help, suggestions for similar or complementary items, and follow-up emails reminding shoppers of previous purchases or items they left in their carts.
- Order extras of big sellers. You don’t want to be caught short on your most popular items during the holidays. Check with suppliers to make sure they’ll be able to get you your top sellers in case of sudden high demands. Another smart tip is to take preorders from customers so you know how much to order. Just make sure you can deliver on time.
- Apply for a loan or line of credit. Many small businesses need more cash during the holidays to cover the extra staff and inventory needed. Make sure you have enough working capital on hand to keep the cash flowing and do all the things you need to do. If necessary, apply for a small business loan or line of credit now so money is not an issue come holiday shopping time.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports