Today’s consumers enjoy shopping small and supporting locally-owned businesses. However, that doesn’t mean small business owners can sit by idly and expect paying customers to show up. If you want to compete with the price and convenience of mass-produced goods, especially during the busy holiday shopping season, your business needs to meet holiday shoppers’ expectations.

Use this checklist to prepare your small business for the holiday shopping season.

Decorating for the Holidays

Appearances matter. Here’s how to get your storefront and website in the holiday spirit:

  • Decorate the storefront: Who can resist stepping into a bright and cheery store when the weather outside is cold and dreary? Make sure your small business appeals to passersby with a festive window display. Capterra’s budget-friendly ideas will get you started. You can get creative to make a Christmas tree, dress up your mannequins or add a touch of holiday wonder to your display window.
  • Update the website: Online shoppers want in on the holiday cheer too. Draw in shoppers and push holiday promotions with seasonal graphics and banner images that incorporate holiday themes while staying on-brand.

Preparing for the Holiday Rush

Shoppers spend billions of dollars during the holiday shopping season. In order for your business to claim a piece of the holiday shopping pie, you need to be prepared for the temporary increase in volume.

  • Test the website: Consumers are shopping locally, but they’re not always doing it in person. In 2017, foot traffic in stores fell 7.5 percent while ecommerce sales grew by 17.8 percent. Make sure your website is ready for the season by improving loading times, fixing broken links, and soliciting genuine reviews of your business and products.
  • Upgrade payment systems: The last thing you want is to lose a sale because you can’t process a customer’s payment method or they don’t trust the security of your payment system. An updated payment system ensures customers can pay you no matter where they shop, whether at your storefront, online, or at a local pop-up event. When choosing a payment system, look for a credit card machine that’s not just easy to use, but also portable, reliable, and secure.
  • Bolster inventory: Carrying too much inventory can cost your business, but so can falling short. If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for at your store, they won’t wait around for you to get it in stock — they’ll go somewhere else. Analyze historical sales data and current shopping trends to calculate this year’s inventory needs (LightspeedHQ explains how). Then, keep close tabs on your stock so you know when to re-order.

Engaging New and Old Customers

Holiday shopping is all about the customer experience. Shoppers are drawn to stores that take part in the holiday cheer with festive decorations, seasonal promotions, and more. Here’s how your business can give people the holiday shopping experience they crave so they come back all year long.

  • Mail holiday cards: Greeting cards may seem like a relic of the past, but modern shoppers still appreciate the personal touch of a mailed card. If physical cards aren’t in the budget, a festive email newsletter can accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the cost.
  • Plan seasonal promotions: Everyone loves a good deal. In fact, 82 percent of shoppers admit to being influenced by promotions like sales, free gifts, and free shipping, according to a survey from Deloitte Insights. If you want to encourage shoppers to choose your business for their holiday purchases, come up with a holiday promotion they can’t resist.
  • Give back: Giving back is one of the most effective ways to make your small business stand out in the local community. Donate a portion of your holiday profits to charity, volunteer with a prominent nonprofit organization, or participate in community events. Afterwards, market your charitable giving humbly, but visibly on social channels.When your business relies on fourth-quarter sales for its bottom line, you can’t afford to miss out on the holiday shopping rush due to outdated payment systems, laggy websites, or lackluster branding. Start tackling this checklist before the season starts so your business makes a positive impression on this year’s holiday shoppers.

Image via Unsplash