It’s hard to believe how time flies, days get longer but years seem to get shorter and we are now rapidly approaching another busy Holiday season.
As a small business we know how important it is to be ready for the most important sales period of the year.
So how about we take a few minutes together and double check some key areas to make this Holiday season a great one for you.
We are sure you keep tweaking it, you keep updating it, you keep working it, but are there vital areas you forgot to change or improve on your site?
When you look at something every day, believe us , it is easy to omit the static sections and now is a good time to double check everything is in order.
This is the big one, confirm your phone number is prominently shown on every page and if you extended your phone hours, update and market that information.
Take a look at your About Us page, is it correct, and if you have a story on that page about your business, is there anything you need to add.
Use the auto-responder function of your email software or service to acknowledge receipt of emails and inform your customers you will answer them shortly.
Did you know that online buyers love online chat and this is an easy way to extend your business hours with so many chat services now offering apps for your smartphone.
You can implement a simple chat service into your website in a matter of minutes.
Look at your automated emails, do they have the right information and change the copy to include the extended phone hours, and don’t forget to wish your customers Happy Holidays!
Review your return policy page and if you extended your return policy for the Holidays, something we really highly recommend you do , make sure you set an end date.
Market the extended return policy on your front page, it will make buyers feel more comfortable about buying Christmas presents from your store.
Theme and Banners
We love the Holiday season and it’s so important to get your customers into that Holiday spirit by making small changes to your website theme and banners.
There are thousands of free Christmas and Holiday graphics on pixabay.com to dress up your website, banners, and emails.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are a fantastic way to cover the most important questions your customers may ask.
Do you have friends or family that know nothing about your industry or business ?
If so, get them to help you identify the obvious questions and include them in your FAQ.
Don’t go overboard on the number of questions in your FAQ, 10 to 15 is a good number, more than that and people will stop reading.
Your Marketplace Listings
If you control the look of your listings, such as eBay listings, create a seasonal graphics update to your products. Remember, build a mood!
Dedicate specific staff members to handle marketplaces inquiries.
Buyers will ask questions and the more they see they are talking with the same person on the marketplace message platform, the more comfortable they will be buying from your store.
Oh yeah, go to your marketplaces and actually check all your anticipated hot selling products are running with sufficient inventory for customers to buy.
A daft one, but snafus happen!
Your Business Operation
Now we will look at some key areas of your business operation to ensure you have everything in place and are ready to go for the Holidays.
Is Your Customer Service Department Up To Speed?
Review new products, features, and benefits with your customer service staff and highlight items you expect to be big sellers.
- Role play various questions and situations with your staff, including your veterans.
If you made operational changes in your warehouse or in purchasing, communicate these changes to your customer service staff, so they can communicate correct delivery information to your customers.
Now Is Your Shipping Department Ready?
At this point you really need to have enough shipping supplies on hand to get you through the Holiday season, especially if you are using free boxes from carriers such as Fedex, UPS, or the postal service.
Many carriers and shipping supply companies warn of longer delivery times during the Holiday season for supplies and some carriers even stop sending out free supplies for a period of time to reserve delivery capacity for Holiday packages.
Don’t get caught out!
Here is a brief checklist we like to use:
- Boxes, especially odd size boxes that are not as common
- Tape and tape guns
- Filler materials
- Carrier specific packaging, especially flat rate boxes
- Knives and blades
- Pens, Markers and other small supplies used in the warehouse
- Labels for your label printer
- Promotional materials that you include with every shipment
Review your staffing plan and make a draft work schedule from now until the end of the year so that your staff knows what you are expecting of them.
Confirm with your veteran staff members that seasonal help you may have hired is fully trained on the tasks you are asking them to perform.
Identify staff members that may speak a foreign language and make sure all your staff knows who they are.
Yes , even a warehouse person can help you make a sale!
Have A Plan For The Unexpected
What will you do if any of the following happens during your busy season:
- Severe weather
- Internet outage
- Phone outage
- Website outage
- Server capacity (ask your host how quickly you could scale)
- Veteran staff member unexpectedly leaves your business
- Personal emergency, include yourself in this
- Product recall
- Product theft and vandalism
We hate losing valuable sales and operations time fixing an unexpected problem.
Have a plan for each item listed, put it in writing, and share it with at least one of your trusted staff members.
It Is Never Too Late
Do you feel ready for the Holiday season or did we point out a couple problem areas for you to address? No worries, you still got the time to fix them now.
About the Author:
Richard Meldner’s first encounter with Marketplaces began in 2001 enforcing his then employer’s intellectual property rights on eBay and Yahoo. Ironically a short stint as an employee instead of an entrepreneur. In 2004 he and a friend started a regional automotive distribution business in Miami, Florida. They used eBay to sell non-moving inventory, but over time turned it into a full scale eCommerce business. We believe his experience and American insights, actually he is a German living in Amerika (not everyone can be perfect), will be interesting to other eCommerce sellers.