It might sound a little too soon to be talking about the Christmas season, but many people are already making plans for their holidays. The time when you should begin prepping your business for Christmas depends on the size of your company and what industry you are in. If you rely on products coming from overseas, for example, then you will obviously want to get started earlier than others. No matter when you begin preparing, preparation is always key at this time of year; especially for customers interested in picking up promotional gifts for customers and employees.
So, just when should you think about planning? Well, the answer is “as soon as possible”. It’s impossible to be over-prepared for Christmas after all. Even if you spent months preparing, there’s still a good chance that you will be overwhelmed by the Christmas rush. One of the most important reasons for preparing early is that your customers are going to expect you to do it. A PwC report on Christmas shopping habits from last year showed that customers primarily handle their Christmas shopping during November, with some planning as early as September. Everyone, including your customers, want to be prepared for the holidays. Everyone tries their best to avoid a last minute rush and, given that other companies are offering early discounts and deals, why shouldn’t you get involved?
If you’re starting to panic about not preparing yet, then don’t worry! We’ve put together a great list on how to prepare your business for Christmas.
Start out by running some early teasers for Christmas discounts and special products available over the holidays to generate some buzz and excitement leading up to Christmas. Consider setting up a calendar filled with special offers for Christmas, revealing new products or offers each day leading up to Christmas; like an advent calendar of sales. Counting down to Christmas is the perfect way to keep customers engaged and get them checking back with you across the Christmas period. It also makes planning much easier for yourself. Once you start planning what to offer each day, you’re going to naturally think about all the other stuff you plan on doing over Christmas and plan for that too.
Start spreading the word about your holiday plans and promotions through newsletters and emails. This might sound like something obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who forget about sending out Christmas emails or don’t send enough of them out in the lead-up to the big day. Given that everyone is competing for the attention of their busy customers, you’d be amazed at how far a few emails can go.
The PwC report about Christmas habits we mentioned before also showed the problems people have with shopping over Christmas. The primary concern was packages having delayed or missed deliveries. It’s no wonder that people are going to keep a close eye on promotions and delivery services for businesses, particularly during the Christmas period. Be that safe haven of delivery that customers can rely on over Christmas, and consider offering discounted – if not free – delivery if you are able to. Be sure to also offer next day delivery for packages. If you have a store and an ecommerce site, then you should consider arranging click-and-collect to give your customers extra flexibility. While it’s always great to have those services on offer, always be sure to be honest and upfront about what you can do. Outline all the terms and conditions and potential delivery issues as Christmas approaches to ensure customers are aware of what may happen, and encourage them to order as early as possible to avoid such problems.
Offering customers a free giveaway is one of the best possible ways to show them your appreciation and – hopefully – encourage them to keep coming back to do business with you. Offering these promotions could cost some money of course, but that generosity will pay for itself in spades over time. Handing out free Christmas gifts such as advent calendars could be just what makes your business stand out from the competition and get customers coming to you when they are ready to make a purchase.
If it is possible for you to do so, then you definitely want to consider offering gift-wrapping services to customers. Christmas is busy enough as it is, and so everyone wants to find something that will make things that much quicker and easier for them. Gift-wrapping is a simple service that could be one of the deciding factors that get a customer to choose your business over someone else. Plus, no one really likes wrapping presents anyway. People are willing to pay to have someone else do it for them. So take advantage of that.
It can feel at times like we’ve got an endless list of people that we have to buy presents for over Christmas. That makes it the ideal time to scour the internet looking for some interesting ideas and gift inspiration. Social networks like Pinterest are an ideal place for that kind of shopping behavior as people searching for gift ideas are able to click through to the website that the product is being sold on. Be sure to take advantage of all the social channels that you can, but place a special focus on networks like Instagram and Pinterest, which are perfect for showing off Christmassy images of your latest and greatest products.
Although we already mentioned it earlier, we simply can’t stress how important planning is to succeeding over Christmas. There are so many things that could go wrong, and an angry customer over Christmas is likely to become an angry customer for life. They’ll never forget how you let them down at such an important time. Don’t risk letting your customers down (and losing them) over Christmas by following these simple steps:
Don’t forget that Christmas is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year. No matter how chaotic it could get behind the scenes, don’t let customers see you sweating. They want someone reliable to give them one less thing to worry about over the busy Christmas period. Put together an action plan and do all the preparation you need to stay on top of things this Christmas.