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Prepping Your Business for Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020

11 tips for businesses to prepare for the holiday rush

With the ongoing decline of shopping malls and the uncertainty related to COVID-19, the 2020 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

Prepare for the holiday rush: stock up on shipping and mailing supplies

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.

Get your product labels custom printed! When we take on your order, we eliminate the most tedious part of the labeling process for most customers – alignment and printing. Our prints are guaranteed to be high-quality and hassle-free. See how affordable it is to streamline your business, get a custom printed quote.

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. Check out our article on small business tracking so you have these numbers for next year.

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.

Read up on ways to update your website during downtime including improving your listing copy, taking better product photos, and more.

6. Consider Gift-Wrap Options

Prepare for the holiday rush: offer time-saving services like gift-wrapping and/or gift tags

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. Check out more upselling techniques you can use during the holidays and all year long.

Want to add a custom flair to your wrapping paper? Read this article on DIY Christmas gift wrap.

7. Spend on Advertising

Prepare for the holiday rush: promote your sales using in-store and online advertising leading up to the holidays

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.

If you're not selling on online, decide which marketplaces (if any) are right for you.

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. Tip the scales in your favor by reading through our series of public relations articles on how to succeed with the press.

9. Be Active on Social

Prepare for the holiday rush: post on social media so you stay top-of-mind

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

Shopping and shipping are going to look a little different in 2020. Since COVID-19 hit in March, there's been a huge increase in online orders. This has caused severe delays for many of the nation's shipping carriers, as they struggle to keep up with demand.

With regard to the holidays, it's likely more customers will continue to shop online and that the delivery delay with only increase. While they're staffing up themselves and bracing for the predicted escalation, your customers may still feel a lag.

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. This season is unpredictable and it's better to be safe than sorry.

USPS

Service Deadline
Retail Ground® Tuesday, December 15th
First-Class® Mail & Packages Friday, December 18th
Priority Mail® Saturday, December 19th
Priority Mail Express® Wednesday, December 23rd

Get more information on USPS holiday shipping.

FedEx

Service Deadline
SmartPost® Wednesday, December 9th
Ground® Tuesday, December 15th
Express Saver® Monday, December 21st
2Day® Tuesday, December 22nd
Standard Overnight® Wednesday, December 23rd

Get more information on FedEx holiday shipping.

UPS

Service Deadline
Ground® Tuesday, December 15th
3 Day Select® Monday, December 21st
2nd Day Air® Tuesday, December 22nd
Next Day Air® Wednesday, December 23rd

Get more information on UPS holiday shipping.

11. Keep Accurate Records

Your time is valuable, don't spend it searching for 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 sales trail into January, leaving you plenty of opportunities to sell past Cyber Monday. There's a plenty of people 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. Find more articles with business advice and support.

Our customer service team is also available at 1-888-575-2235 to answer any questions you may have.


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