If you’re a shopper you couldn’t have helped but to notice the Christmas decorations going up in stores after Labor Day (in a few places, anyway). No matter how early you start your holidays promotions and how well your business plans, the more you prepare the less ready you feel. We recently had a chance to talk with Fred Lizza, CEO of Dydacomp, to pass on tips on preparation and practices.
The bottom line is, of course, the bottom line. “For some retailers,” says Mr. Lizza, “40 percent of their annual sales occur in the last two months of the year. It is essential that retailers start preparing now to ensure that they can effectively scale their operations to get the most out of the busy holiday season.”
Mr. Lizza suggests three steps to help increase this during the holidays:
- Start Early. This seems to happen earlier each year, but it’s suggested that you start advertising your sales and any specials around late October instead of waiting until you’re on the verge of the season.
- Have Back-Up Plans. Have a plan or two in the wings waiting to be deployed if your sales slip or start to trend down. Consider advertising, coupons, and other deals.
- Be Visible. Make it easy for your customers to find your company, your coupons, your discounts, and your promotions. If they find them, they’ll very likely use them.
When it comes to your website, there are some good tips to keep in mind during the holidays as well:
- Minimize Updates. Better yet, eliminate your site’s updates over the six-week period that follows Cyber Monday. This will remove any chance of your customers being frustrated and looking elsewhere. If you have to perform updates, do it between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.
- Test, Test Again, and Re-Test. Any special holiday-themed changes to your site should be tested multiple times. Ensure your site works across multiple browsers. Have back-up site plans in place in case something goes wrong.
- Prepare for the Best. Ensure your site can handle large numbers of shoppers on it at the same time. There are plenty of third-party software out there that will test your site’s load capacity, such as LoadStorm. More info can be found in the Performance Testing blog.
- Upgrade. Now that Adobe has phased out support for Flash, look to other solutions, such as HTML5.
- Organize Your Data. Ensure your product descriptions, codes, prices, and inventory counts, to name a few, are all up to date. Bad data can mean lost sales.
- Communication. Ensure your suppliers’ contact info is available, including hours of operation and people you should get a hold of when you need something.
The Carolina Cookie Company utilized the services that Dydacomp offers to help automate the back end of their ordering systems, allowing them to bake, pack, and ship cookies the same day they were ordered – allowing them to easily meet the increased demands of holiday sales. You can read all about the Carolina Cookie case study to see for yourself and by embracing at least a few of the tips we’ve noted above, you too may find yourself better prepared, and a little less stressed, this coming holiday season.