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The 27-Point Checklist You Need to Prepare Your Business For The Holidays

It’s time to start preparing for the holidays!

According to Shopify, “as more shoppers rush online to make their Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases, inventory and shipping constraints will present challenges for retailers of all sizes, but especially for independent businesses.”

As we’ve said before, having a marketing plan isn’t only a good idea – it’s critical. And being prepared for the biggest shopping months of the year can help give your business an advantage to finish the year strong and recoup any lost revenue from the previous quarters.

Check out this handy 27-point checklist to help you make sure your business is equipped for the shopper surge that happens every November and December:

⏳ Planning: Start early and prepare for a longer season

1. Prepare for a busier Cyber Monday

💡 TIP: Make sure your online shop is up and running as this year’s biggest shopping weekend will be dominated by online shopping.

2. Test and ensure your website can handle a surge in traffic

3. Double-down on your top sales channels

💡 TIP: “Some sales channels have a longer lead time for optimal performance. For example, if you’re exploring the Google channel, we recommend installing and setting it up as early as possible. Google’s algorithm takes about 15 days to learn about your online store, and to optimize performance so that your products are shown to the right shoppers.”

4. Keep an eye on the competition

5. Create contingency plans

📦 Products: Prepare for an uptick in demand

6. Make inventory decisions early

💡 TIP: “Picking the products you want to promote for BFCM should be done as early as possible, especially if you rely on suppliers to source or manufacture that inventory. Suppliers have been operating above capacity since the pandemic started and need plenty of leeway to get your products ready.”

7. Consider pandemic product trends

8. Sell gift cards

9. Organize your upcoming sales

💡 TIP: “Look at all of your products and plan your deals and discounts ahead of time instead of putting on a sale last minute, and review your margins and inventory to find suitable discounts.”

10. Optimize your order and fulfillment workflows

💡 TIP: Organize your fulfillment area, hire additional fulfillment staff, over-communicate, and prioritize and organize your orders!

📣 Marketing: Ready your campaigns and creative

11. Craft an irresistible Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer

💡 TIP: “A strategy many retailers use is to run a “jaw-dropping” sale on a popular item to attract customers to their store. Once customers are there for the deep discount, there’s a chance they’ll pick up other items on their way to the checkout. Occasionally, this product serves as a loss leader, with the difference being made up by customers adding more to their cart than they would have without the flagship product’s deep discount.”

12. Create banners and hero images to advertise holiday sale

13. Retarget past visitors and customers

14. Start your email marketing campaigns early

💡 TIP: Begin planning, creating, and scheduling emails long before Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales start. Some tips for a winning BFCM email marketing strategy? Build suspense and buzz around your upcoming sale, send “warm-up” emails in the weeks leading up to BFCM with hints and teasers, thank your customers when your sale ends, and create abandoned cart emails!

15. Leverage your best advertising channels

💡 TIP: Consider teaming up with Step Out Buffalo to promote your business and sales during the holidays! Contact us to see how we can work together.

💌 Customers: Drive repeat purchases and lasting loyalty

16. Reward loyal customers

💡 TIP: “Customer marketing is an opportunity to email and retarget your previous customers with your best deals. Give existing customers the chance to access a sale earlier or offer exclusive sales just for being a subscriber on your email list.”

17. Integrate live chat

18. Ensure you provide prompt and personal support

19. Offer easy and hassle-free returns

📊 Performance: Track everything and optimize for speed

20. Think mobile first

21. Assess your checkout experience

22. Test your site and get feedback

23. Set up Google Analytics

💡 TIP: “Knowledge is power and understanding how your customers shop in your online store is crucial knowledge. Using Google Analytics, a powerful and free traffic tracking tool will allow you to understand your shoppers even more. If you’re not set up with Google Analytics on your store, or you just want to ensure you’re using it correctly, check out our guide to Google Analytics.”

24. Get familiar with your Shopify Reports

25. Set up heatmaps and other tools to understand user behavior

💡 Post BFCM: Retention and reflection 

26. Turn seasonal shoppers into year-round customers

💡 TIP: “Keep your customers engaged year-round by staying active on social media and sending out post-sale emails to your subscribers. If those seasonal, one-time shoppers didn’t sign up to your email list or follow your social media accounts, then retargeting might be your next best option.”

27. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t

Read the full article from Shopify here!

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At Step Out Buffalo, we help businesses promote themselves and their events on our website, email, and social media channels. Our team is comprised of experts who know exactly how to make your business or event stand out, and we’ll put you in all the right places so you get noticed by all the right people. Hit us up if you’d like to learn more about our business and/or events-based promotions – there’s a reason 94% of our readers go places they’ve seen on StepOutBuffalo.com

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Step Out Buffalo Business

Step Out Buffalo Business is a business focused publication featuring tips and tricks for entrepreneurs and small business people in Buffalo & Western New York by the team at Step Out Buffalo. We write what we know and when we don't know, we ask an expert in the field. We've gained our knowledge through experience growing businesses in various industries.

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