The holiday season accounts for 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales, and it is responsible for up to 30% of some individual retailers’ total sales. Are you prepared?
The accompanying infographic, Small Business Holiday Prep Guide, is intended to serve as a holiday preparation checklist when it comes to two of the most important things you need to think about at this time: improving payment security and planning your marketing strategy. The included tips are relevant to businesses that operate wholly on-site or online, as well as those who manage both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce stores.
The goals of preparation, of course, are to (1) increase and drive holiday and future sales to your store, and (2) to ensure that your customers and your business experience safe, secure transactions with no delays, disruptions or fraudulent activities.
Use this infographic to start planning now for a successful holiday season. The best gift you could give yourself, your business and your employees is a very happy and prosperous holiday season.
The Busiest Shopping Days
The 10 busiest shopping days of the year fall between Black Friday and the end of December:
- November — Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving)
- November — Saturday after Thanksgiving
- December — Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)
- December — First Saturday in December
- December — Second Saturday in December
- December — Friday before Christmas
- December — Super Saturday (Saturday before Christmas)
- December — Third Saturday in December
- December — Sunday before Christmas
- December — Day after Christmas
Total holiday retail sales crossed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2018. The average American holiday shopper purchased about 16 gifts, spending approximately $846. To get a share of the holiday pie, careful planning is a must. This includes firming up your messaging, marketing channels, and strategies. Start planning early so you’re in full holiday mode by Thanksgiving.
- Review last year’s marketing data so to better align with customer needs
- Determine key dates, including dates for special sales and in-store holiday events
- Work with suppliers and order enough inventory to avoid running out of top-selling products mid-season
- Research and write high-quality content, including ads, videos, and gift guides that will connect with your audience
- Prepare sufficient advertising materials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (flyers, brochures, online ads, emails, social media ads, in-store signs and posters, etc.)
- Finalize email, social media, tests, online ads, catalog, and in-store strategies
- Create unique holiday promotions and schedule them throughout the season
- Decorate your store or website with holiday designs; add in-store holiday music
- Test your online checkout and ramp up in-store staff to meet expected demand (how efficiently your customers can check out, make a payment and complete their transactions)
- Plan for Small Business Saturday (held the Saturday after Thanksgiving) with a local strategy that includes in-store events; send coupons to cell phones of shoppers in the vicinity of your store in real-time via geo-location marketing
- Begin or enhance a social cause campaign and ask audience members to contribute; after the holidays, be sure to share the results (how much was collected, how it helped others)
- Implement a loyalty program to keep customers coming back (if you don’t have one)
- Be sure to stock enough decorations, wrapping paper, gift cards, and receipt paper
- Spread your holiday messages to potential customers through all media channels (email blasts, online ads, social media ads and posts, gift guides, test message blasts, mailers, in-store messaging)
- Extend shipping cut-off dates and speed the time from purchase to shipping
- Get ready to offer steep discounts; shoppers may be in a spending mood, but they are looking for deals during the holidays
- Host a special holiday in-store or online event to thank customers for their support
While Americans spent over $1 trillion during the 2018 holiday season, 71% were concerned that their financial and personal data could be compromised. Further, 83% were hesitant to make a purchase from a company that experienced a data breach in the past.* Fraudulent attempts rise during the holiday season, so do everything you can to protect your customers’ personal information.
- Ensure that your payment processing adheres to the latest PCI compliance standards
- Keep adding security layers (tokenization, point-to-point encryption, and fraud management tools)
- Upgrade software continually; perform regular security inspections online and in-store before and after the holiday season
- Invest time in training and reinforcing security tactics well before the holidays begin; explain how fraud is committed and be sure your staff understands cyber vulnerabilities and risks
- Explain to staff how to detect POS tampering and signs of online transaction fraud; consider augmented reality training so staff can practice responding to suspicious situations and improve the way they handle them
- Don’t keep credit card numbers; store only data necessary for tracking shipments and handling returns; storing credit card numbers brings your payment environment into PCI scope
- Combat “card not present” fraud by using an Address Verification Service (AVS) and use a Card Verification Value (CVV) filter to verify the security code on the back of the card
- Crackdown on fraudsters by sharing threat data with other retailers via open-source threat intelligence communities
- Protect against e-gift card fraud by inspecting names and email addresses; looking out for “no shipping address required” or “instant delivery”; watching for numerous e-gift card transfers
Ready, Set, GO!
While the holiday season can be a challenging time of the year, planning ahead helps you maximize your sales opportunities. Following our tips can help you thrive — not just survive — the holidays!
Author bio: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a leading provider of small business merchant services. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing.