Prepping Your Business for Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2023
With the ongoing decline of shopping malls, and the increasing number of consumers opting for an online shopping experience, the holiday season could pose several new challenges for retailers. Yet, consumers are still hungry for good deals and interested in locally made products. As such, an influx of orders could be coming your way. Is your business prepared?
Below we cover 11 steps your business can take to stay organized, sane, and fully stocked during the holiday season.
Wondering when you should start preparing for the holidays? Most businesses kick things into gear between Summer and Fall.
1. Stock Up On Packing Supplies & Inventory
Having orders is great, but not if you run out of the essentials to complete them.
Analyze what supplies are needed to fulfill your orders. Besides the products themselves, do you need packing tape, tissue paper, shipping labels, shopping bags, product labels, etc?
Make sure you have enough, and well before the holiday season starts. Stores and carriers are overwhelmed (sometimes running weeks or months behind due to shutdowns and backlogged orders), which could mean your regular products are out of stock or have a significantly delayed delivery time. Getting everything in-hand ahead of time could save you a lot of headaches.
2. Pre-Produce Your Products
For a lot of small businesses, products aren't made until the order comes through. But with double or triple the sales coming through during the holiday rush, it's easy to get overwhelmed.
You may want to consider pre-producing your offerings leading up to big shopping days. It would speed up your fulfillment process and help relieve some of your stress.
Before making excess of every product you offer, though, evaluate your sales in the months and year(s) prior. What's your top-selling item? Are you discounting one item above the rest? Use these strategic questions to decide what inventory is worth over-producing.
3. Organize Your Inventory
There's more to fulfilling orders than just having your supply on-hand. With product building up in your home or stockroom, it can be hectic trying to find what you're looking for at the drop of a hat.
Try using inventory labels to stay organized. Shelf labels can help direct you and your team where to find an item quickly and easy.
You may also consider grouping items based on relevant categories like size or color if you don't have shelving in your storage area.
4. Staff Up
Seasonal employees are in high demand, and many are lining up for the opportunity. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 675,000 seasonal positions open during the holidays.
Start early so your team is trained and well-versed in the tasks and products at-hand. College students, neighborhood teenagers, and staffing agencies are great resources.
Note: This step doesn't just apply to businesses with brick and mortar storefronts. While retailers with a local presence may need to hire additional salespeople, ecommerce business owners should consider hiring a team to help make, pack, and ship products.
5. Update Your Website
Make sure your website is accurate and up to date. This includes rereading your product descriptions, retaking photos, and double-checking holiday hours and pricing. Websites with accurate information tell customers your company is active, engaged, and ready to handle their business.
Take your website preparations a step further and make sure you're optimized for mobile use. People are turning to their smartphones more and more – when they're searching for your product or business, you want to be ready.
6. Consider Gift-Wrap Options
Buying, wrapping, and sending presents takes time. Offer to take this stress off your customers' shoulders, for a price. Add additional finishing options for gift tags, gift receipts, personalized cards, and gift wrapping.
It may make your brand and products more attractive to potential customers and the convenience might just be worth that upcharge. If you're not a fan of this, there are tons of other upselling techniques you can use during the holidays and all year long.
7. Spend on Advertising
Many people begin their holiday shopping online. Ramping up your advertising spend on Google, Etsy, or Amazon in preparation for the holidays could help build awareness of your brand and product. Then, when it's time to buy, you'll be top of mind.
8. Get Some Hype
There are tons of websites that list great products and deals during the holidays. Reach out to some of the authors and see if they'll include your product! News outlets love to feature local entrepreneurs and small businesses as well. See if they too would be willing to host a segment about your business or product.
It doesn't hurt to ask, it may just work out in your favor.
If it makes sense with what you sell, we also highly recommend hiring influencers in your space to talk about your product.
9. Be Active on Social
Social media is a great place to promote sales & promotions, limited-time products, or specialty services (like the popular upsell of giftwrapping) that you're offering during the holidays.
It's also an easy way to drum up demand and keep customers informed about out-of-stock items, hours, and more. If your content is engaging and timely, people will keep coming back.
You can also use social media to provide customer service. Customers love the 24/7 nature of social media, and if nothing else, it may keep your phone from ringing a little less often.
10. Know Your Deadlines
To prevent your packages from arriving after December 25th, note the following dates provided by USPS, FedEx, and UPS. They have released a list of drop-dead dates for each of their delivery types. Knowing, anticipating, and promoting these dates on your website will help everyone. You can help usher in orders, allow customers to set appropriate expectations, and ensure your end-recipient gets your incredible product on-time.
Of course, it never hurts to leave a little wiggle-room – even with the carrier's stated times.
|Retail Ground®||Thursday, December 15th|
|First-Class® Mail & Packages||Friday, December 16th|
|Priority Mail®||Monday, December 19th|
|Priority Mail Express®||Thursday, December 23rd|
Get more information on USPS holiday shipping.
The USPS has raised shipping rates for the 2022 holiday season. The rate adjustments will affect Priority Mail Express (PME), Priority Mail (PM), First-Class Package Service (FCPS), Parcel Select and USPS Retail Ground. These new rates will go into affect at 12 a.m. Central on Oct. 2 and end at 12 a.m. Central on Jan. 22, 2023.
|SmartPost®||Friday, December 9th|
|Ground®||Thursday, December 15th|
|Express Saver®||Wednesday, December 21st|
|2Day®||Thursday, December 22nd|
|Standard Overnight®||Friday, December 23rd|
Get more information on FedEx holiday shipping.
|Ground®||Sunday, December 11th|
|3 Day Select®||Wednesday, December 21st|
|2nd Day Air®||Thursday, December 22nd|
|Next Day Air®||Friday, December 23rd|
Get more information on UPS holiday shipping.
11. Keep Accurate Records
Your time is valuable, don't spend it searching for a product you don't have. We recommend creating an inventory management system for your business. Learn more about inventory barcoding and point-of-sale systems with inventory tracking. Showing customers your inventory count in certain instances can spur them to act, too! Scarcity is a powerful motivator.
Bonus: After The Holidays
While it may be tempting to kick off your shoes and close-up shop once December passes, don't dip off! Research has shown that sales trail into January, leaving you plenty of opportunities to sell past Cyber Monday. There are plenty of people who are still on the hunt for a good deal and many will want to use the gift cards and cash they received as presents.
Don't let the holidays stress you out. Start preparing early and consider the tips above for an organized, sane, and strong holiday season.
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