The festive season is a busy time of year where most businesses see a huge increase in cash flow and customer presence, starting with the Black Friday sales and continuing through Christmas, Boxing Day and into the January sales period.
As a small business it is crucial to be prepared for an influx of traffic and have strategies in place to maximise the increase in sales volume. With Covid-19 lockdowns this year, customers are exercising their ability to shop in store, so being prepared will help your operations run smoothly.
In this blog post, we will be sharing some tips on how small businesses can prepare themselves for the busiest time of year and efficiently maximise trade.
Assess your staffing levels
The first step in making sure you are ready for the busy season is ensuring you have an appropriate level of staffing.
It is important to train staff in the lead up to the busy season on any covid protocols or technical systems and ensure any newly hired staff members have polished their customer service skills, ready to deal with the expected influx of customers.
During the busy season, cash flow tends to also drastically increase. While this means more money coming into your business, it also means higher demands placed on your checkout counter and processes. Hiring some additional casual staff over the peak shopping season may help alleviate any in store strain.
Ensure proper payment processing is in place
The ideal payment processing setup allows customers to quickly pay in a variety of ways, from cash to contactless cards and app-based payment solutions like Apple Wallet or Android Pay to help reduce the length of register lines. An increase in card transactions and a shift to a cashless society, presents an increase in EFTPOS transaction fees coming out of merchants’ bottom lines. Smartpay offers a Zero Cost EFTPOS solution which helps you save on these merchant transaction fees, putting the money back into your business.
With the increase in customers, businesses should also test any in-store technology, including their POS system and EFTPOS terminal to ensure any connection issues are addressed.
Stock levels, supply chain issues & shopping sooner
With the increase in customers, businesses should prepare early and make sure they have enough stock levels to cover demand. Getting your stock levels right during the holiday season can be tricky but looking at past sales records can help you predict and plan. However, with multiple news headlines warning shoppers to start their Christmas shopping as soon as lockdowns lifted, it’s almost inevitable that the impact of Covid-19 would also impact supply chains.
Port backlogs, high gas prices and lengthy delivery times for foreign made goods are just some of the issues affecting the holiday shopping season this year. As a business, continuing to restock as soon as your products arrive and immediately contacting any customers on a waitlist should help ease some stresses. Try to rearrange stock to keep shelves looking full, communicate with consumers around timelines for item deliveries and ensure staff recommend similar substitutes if an item is sold out or heavily delayed.
Importantly, you should consider extending your opening hours a few weeks earlier this season. In the week leading up to Christmas, most retailers offer longer trading hours, however doing it sooner this year will not only help sales volumes but also allow customers to spread out their shopping visits, avoiding a last minute rush and potential disappointment if an item is out of stock.
Customer safety remains paramount
Continue to put your staff and customers’ safety first by ensuring your business remains COVID-safe so your shoppers remain confident. Here are some tips to consider:
- Make sure that alcohol-based hand sanitiser is placed at high traffic locations around your store, such as the entrances and exits, cash registers and changing rooms.
- Increase the regularity of cleaning and disinfecting objects that are in regular contact with your staff and customers, such as EFTPOS terminals, handrails, door handles, shopping trolleys, tables, chairs, etc.
- Make sure that staff and customers are encouraged to stick to official social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between people and wearing a mask or face covering. It is important to have adequate signage and floor markings to make this process easier for your customers.
Enjoy the season
Finally, remember that busy periods are busy for a reason but try to enjoy it – they’re the time when customers want to spend money on your goods and services and make the most of in store shopping, especially post lockdowns, ultimately supporting your business. This represents an excellent opportunity for your small business to make the most of the busy season rush and close off the year with solid sales.