We’re hurtling towards Christmas fast, just like every year. From now until December 24, you can expect to serve a steady flow of customers hunting for gifts, stocking up on food & drink or simply looking for that festive feeling. If there’s one way to stay organised and productive through the rush, it’s to write a checklist.
Forecast your busiest times
Data is your best friend when preparing for the Christmas shopping period. Ideally, every small business’s point-of-sale software should provide access to an online dashboard that’s kitted out with analytics tools. There are two types of data you can put to use:
- Historical data that reveals past trends and periods where you could have made better decisions.
- Real-time data that lets you view that same performance as it’s happening, allowing you to make adjustments as soon as they’re needed.
The challenge as a business owner is learning how to blend the two. Whilst historical data allows you to prepare in advance, you need to be agile. And whilst it’s great to act on-the-fly, the right preparations are needed to support reactive management.
(If you don’t already have point-of-sale software)
- Download point-of-sale software to track sales, inventory and employees
- Set up employee management so that staff can take payments
- Add your inventory
(If you already have point-of-sale software)
- Identify Q4 2017’s busiest periods and days (for your online and offline stores)
- Note periods of low inventory
- Note items that went out of stock
- Order stock (comparing past trends with business growth)
- Review staff performance during past busy periods
- Create a staff rota and share in advance
- Include staff to help with online customer support if you have a website or use social media
- Finalise time-off requests
- Analyse any customer feedback you received via digital receipts
- Implement suggestions that make sense for your business
- Review your current busiest periods in real-time
- Adjust your opening hours accordingly
- Create an efficient ordering system so you can respond to real-time low inventory alerts
Increase the ways you can take payments
A queue out the door is a great thing for business, but impatient customers aren’t. You can prepare yourself for bigger crowds of shoppers by both speeding up the checkout process and offering customers more ways to pay.
- Order more handheld readers so you can serve more than one customer on the shop floor
- Get a stand for your iPad to create a secure point-of-sale
- Get set up with virtual terminal software so that you can take payments remotely
- Offer invoicing options for high-value items
For more tips on queue-busting, read our post on 6 Ways to Improve Your Checkout Speed.
Now is the time to get everything in place for your team to sell efficiently during busy periods. In your point-of-sale system, make sure all the inventory is good to go.
- Delete inventory items that you no longer sell
- Add new inventory (making sure that items are named correctly)
- Make sure all pricing and offers are up to date
- Include photos for all items
If you have special Christmas opening hours or you’re running promotions, make sure your website and social media reflect them. The real-time insights provided by your point-of-sale system might result in last minute changes, so use these channels to let people know as soon as you do.
- Update your store opening hours
- Add festive imagery to your website and social media cover photos
- Add some seasonal touches to your company “About” section
- Post regularly on social media with company updates or offers
- Start using Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers
- Theme your online advertising and social marketing campaigns
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