As you retailers prepare for some of the busiest and most frenzied shopping days of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – here is a last-minute checklist to make sure you and your staff are ready.
Be ready for orders before Black Friday.
As Jim Dougherty points out on the Vocus blog, “ start far ahead of Black Friday.” His assessment stems from IBM’s 2012 Digital Analytics Benchmark Black Friday Report.
According to the report, online sales on Thanksgiving Day hit record numbers last year with sales growing 17.4% compared to 2011. Other retailers are preparing to open stores on Turkey Day or have some sort of online special.
Furthermore, a 2013 Accenture study found that 38 percent of shoppers said they were likely to shop on Thanksgiving.
As you’re preparing your business for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, don’t be surprised to find yourself busy fulfilling orders on Thanksgiving, especially if you’re offering any promotions then.
Take one last look at the numbers.
Were there any surprises in last year’s holiday sales? Have you found solutions for any problems you faced?
What items have been hot sellers for you this year? Do you have a strategy to capitalize on their popularity?
To prevent any unpleasant déjà vu moments, you can – at the very least – have an awareness of potential problems before you open the doors or publish online specials for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Best case scenario, you will have solutions when similar problems arise.
Check your inventory and processes.
Know what you have on hand and what you don’t. Taking this even further, have plans or systems in place if customers want to buy something that is out of stock.
Can you give customers a voucher that honors the discount if they purchase a product or service before the end of the year? Can you record their contact information so you can reach out to them when the product is available?
Know your alternate plans of action before the day arrives. Also make sure that you’ve communicated to yourabout what to do in those circumstances – and more importantly – that everyone understands the procedures you want them to follow.
Finalize all discounts.
This dovetails off the two preceding items on the preparation checklist. With knowledge of the current inventory and a look at the last year’s numbers, you should be ready to put the final stamp of approval on all promotions. Make sure that any last-minute promotions are communicated to customers in some way – whether that is through in-store signs, emails or.
Also, while this is not a last-minute item, it’s too important not to note: Consider offering free shipping for online orders if you haven’t already. It’s a proven winner.
Finalize staffing schedule.
Do your employees know when they are expected to work? Have you confirmed that they still can work at the assigned time? Do you have backups in case of illness? If you are allowing any paid time off to your associates, have you asked them advance to let you know the dates so you can factor this into your staffing? Remember, this is a great time of the year to hire temps to back up your staff who might also want to spend time with family these holidays.
Put the finishing touches on your staffing schedule and make sure a master list is handy for Black Friday.
Have food orders lined up to help employees stay hydrated and full of energy.
No matter if you’re a pure online retailer or a hybrid that sells products or services online and in brick-and-mortar locations, your employees are your vital assets during this busy, and hopefully profitable, time.
Take care of them. Offer a wakeup call if they fear they might not make it to work on time. Do you what you can as a business owner and leader to show your support. Say “thank you” often, reward hard work, and don’t forget to smile.
Other In-Store Preparations
- Make sure all signs reflect accurate store hours.
- Prepare all your promotional signage and whatever is needed to display it – tape, racks, digital displays, etc. Have extra supplies on hand.
- Have a hefty stock of gift cards. Are they in a place that’s easily accessible by customers and employees?
- Make sure if you are using temporary staffing that they are adequately trained and can handle questions and the volume you anticipate. Remember many of the shoppers entering your store may be first timers; you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
- Schedule social media posts that provide standard information – time-conditional discounts, store hours, etc.
- Update any PPC ads based on inventory and specials.
- Set up email campaigns to existing customers. This is also a good time to give your loyal subscribers an exclusive discount, which will help them feel valued and appreciated.
- Finalize all graphics for website, including specific, hard-to-miss calls to action.
- Test all promo codes to ensure that they are active or ready to go.
- Make sure ordering gift cards is visible on the site and easy to do.
- Finally, be sure to test your site. Make sure that it is ready to handle an increase in volume.
- Ensure that your security software for your site is updated; this time of year is a hacker’s dream as credit card numbers are flying through cyberspace.
What’s on your last-minute checklist that prepares your business for Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday?
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