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10 ways to prepare your business for Christmas

feature-christmas-200There are just 84 days until Christmas. If that doesn’t fill you with dread, then it should.

Christmas is the biggest time of year not only for customers but for businesses as well. Retailers make the majority of their turnover during the holiday season, as do plenty of services companies.

If you haven’t started planning for the end of year rush, then you need to right now. Not just for things like staffing and inventory, but also more technical problems like AdWords, and search marketing, and even setting your website up for mobile visitors.

Have you even started thinking about what your social media campaign will be?

These techniques can’t be organised on the fly. They require careful planning, and the bigger your business the more important this slice of the year becomes.

So if you haven’t started organising Christmas yet, here are 10 tips to get you going:

1. Start thinking about AdWords yesterday

The best thing about AdWords – and their biggest problem – is that they’re based on demand. So a very popular AdWords campaign is going to cost a lot, while the less popular AdWords won’t cost as much.

That means that if you’re preparing a Christmas campaign in advance, you may end up saving quite a bit of money.

Reseo chief executive Chris Thomas says his clients often see massive benefits without the company having to spend much more money.

“Promotion is the biggest thing, really. So figure out what your offers are going to be and then gear up on AdWords, because there’s a much higher propensity to buy during that time of the year.”

“People act on conversion pressure, so they’re actively looking for gifts.”

Thomas says he sees conversion rates double “with basically no other impact apart from that”.

“Look at your categories, determine those that do well and then try to figure out in which areas you should be spending on AdWords.”

2. Localise your marketing as much as possible

And if you’re using AdWords, then you should be sure you’re localising them as well. Most shoppers are going to be searching in their local areas for deals, so you should be targeting within a certain area, including specific suburbs.

StewArt Media chief executive Jim Stewart says you should target local areas as much as possible.

“You should even start drawing an area the size of a 20 kilometre radius and then start targeting specific areas.”

3. Work out staffing sooner rather than later

The bigger retail chains are already thinking about staffing levels now, and so should you.

If you’re gearing up for a big holiday season, then you need to answer some critical questions. How many staff do you need? Do you have enough already? Is it worth just hiring a few more people to take you throw the rush period?

You need to start thinking about a rostering system that will put those staff to better use. Figure out which times of day you’re going to sell the most product, and maximise your customer service to sales ratio.

4. Fix the parcel backlog

This will be the year of parcels. The post office’s problems with the sheer number of parcels flowing through its doors are well publicised, and customers are fed up with having to retrieve packages on the weekends due to restrictions during business hours.

Failed delivery is one of many problems here, and Parcel Express chief executive Jason Picknell says you need to think about solutions right now.

“You can expect 10% of all orders are going to have problems of one kind or another, create a plan on dealing with those exceptions well.”

“It could be as simple as monitoring delivery to consumers and creating auto alerts to customers of delays to avoid emails and or phone calls, or something along these lines that not only is proactive customer service, but it reduces cost in handling customer complaints or queries.”

5. Figure out your shopping channels

The same goes for shipping. Picknell says you need to work out the kinks in your delivery systems – and that doesn’t just mean how you get customers’ purchases to them in time.

Picknell says you should take the time to delve into your contractors’ order processing and delivery processes, to give you a better understanding of their business.

“Not only will it help you to form a realistic expectation of price and service value, but it may lead to new discussions over opportunities. “

“In peak season, third party logistics providers and final mile providers can suffer from a lack of visibility on what customers are going to provide them tomorrow. If you are in a position to understand your business trends or plan with them for promotion sales, working with them to come up with contingencies or opportunities is a must.”

Continued next page.

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