Memories of the summer sun beating down, as you sat in your beach chair might still be fresh, but the reality is that the holiday season is just around the corner. Taking time now to set the stage for Black Friday is a decision you will never regret.
Keep Up With Your Competition
One of the biggest reasons to start setting a Black Friday strategy in advance is that your competition is probably already doing the same thing. Whether you sell online, at a brick-and-mortar store or a combination of the two, keeping up with your rivals is more important than ever.
That’s because your customers are savvier. And thanks to the Internet and online mega-giants such as Amazon, it’s easier than ever for them to find the best deal. Figuring out ways to rise above your virtual and real competitors is an absolute must, and it’s not going to happen magically as you take your last bite of turkey on Thanksgiving. These strategies require time, attention and often help from professionals.
Identify Your Customers and Engage Them
You may already have a good idea of who frequents your retail store or shops at your e-commerce site. Often, the very nature of your products dictates who is attracted to purchasing them. Thanks to today’s modern point of sale systems or other retail marketing tools, you can take what you may already know about your most dedicated buyers and easily store it in a loyalty database.
Long before the holiday season arrives, you will be able to tap into this gold mine of contacts, making your most valuable consumers aware of upcoming sales and promotions and even obtaining their opinions about what they would like to see you carry during Black Friday and beyond. Complement this with a dynamic social media campaign, and you can remain a step ahead of your competition when the crucial time comes.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
Many business owners are fully occupied with the countless tasks involved in running their enterprise. You may be one of them if you often put necessary administrative tasks or long-term goals on the back burner because you spent your day running from one fire to the next.
A short-sighted management strategy is harmful in a number of ways. For one thing, it raises your stress level into the stratosphere. Moreover, the quality of what you do is probably not as high if you are constantly rushing from one crisis to the next. In the end, you will put off equally important but less glamorous priorities.
For many entrepreneurs, developing marketing strategies and preparing for tax time are two tasks they often put off. Instead of allowing these vital business tasks to languish, hire professional help. Whatever you may spend to enlist the services of a marketing firm or an accountant may pay for themselves many times over in added sales and financial security.
Do Some Advanced Inventory Planning
Once again, your point of sale system can be the star of the show when it comes to projecting what products you want to stock and in what quantities. Instead of making a blind stab in the dark about what items will fly off the shelves and which will languish, your POS solution has the capability of generating reports from last year and/or showing recent trends.
With just a few clicks, you can print out a spreadsheet that shows in clear detail what worked and what flopped. That will certainly make projecting and ordering much easier. And if you couple that strategy with an active social media presence, you can get a sense from your customers about any tweaks they would like to see you make in your offerings. After all, fads and trends take on lives of their own on the internet, and you would be a fool if you didn’t put your ear to the ground in that respect.
Make Physical and Staff Preparations
It’s never too early to start planning what your virtual or brick-and-mortar store will look like during the holiday season. Start moving things around to ensure that the most sought-after products are visible and within easy reach. Begin thinking about how many sales floor and checkout staff you will require for each shift, hiring new people now before the best ones are snatched up by your competition.
The autumn months also provide you with the calm before the storm, a time when you can provide training in sales procedures, the use of your POS solution and the full range of your product offerings. By planning ahead, you will have competent, relaxed staff and products that customers want the moment your doors open on Black Friday.
Optimize for Smartphones
With each passing year, more of your customers are carrying mobile devices. If you have an e-commerce site, be sure that it is set up for mobile phone purchases. Even if you only have a physical storefront, cash in on the smartphone phenomenon by sending location-based messages to your customers when they come within close range of your store. Take the weeks and months before Black Friday to come up with some eye-catching promotions that will entice your loyal customers to heed your notifications and walk or click into your retail arena to take advantage of promotions or discounts. There is so much money to be made via mobile technology that you definitely cannot afford to pass up this important and profitable avenue.
Don’t let your competition jump ahead of you this year. With some careful planning now during the slower months, you can increase the chances of skyrocketing your profits once the holidays get into full swing. If you play your cards right, this year’s Black Friday might take on a decidedly green hue for you and your business.