The holidays are coming, and so is the rush for everyone to get ahold of the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Essentially, this is good news for business owners because it means an increase in sales, but because it also means an increase in demands, this season requires a lot of preparation. So what can small business owners do to prepare themselves for the holidays?
#1 Take Inventory
Before the first holiday shopper sets foot in your store, make sure that you have all of the necessary supplies to fulfill potential orders for the coming season. Count all of your current inventory, and at the very least, ensure that minimums are present so that demand will not outweigh your supply, but whenever possible, try to anticipate which products will be your best sellers by analyzing previous inventory data and current trends, and stock up early. Feel free to visit our previous post on streamlining inventory management for more information.
At Tuxedo Impressions LLC™, we aim to help small businesses, freelancers, and solopreneurs alike with inventory management. Knowing what you have on hand is important to customer service and the overall growth of your business.
#2 Revisit Training on Order Fulfillment
There are times that the rush of the holiday season may overwhelm your team, which can lead to incomplete orders, poorly packaged or assembled products, and dissatisfied customers. Therefore, it is important that leadership take charge and get ahead of the game by preparing their team early.
Re-train staff on how to fulfill work orders.
During staff orientation it is likely that you gave each employee handouts or manuals to explain company procedures and expectations. Take some time to revisit those manuals and highlight any areas of confusion or refresh their memory on how they can work together effectively.
Communicate with customers if there are any delays.
There will be times when your small business may endure some delay when it comes to restocking, forcing customers to have to wait for their items. Always be open and honest in your communication with your customers. Keep them informed of where you are in the process when it comes to their orders so they know what to expect and how long will it be.
Make sure packaging is consistent.
Small businesses that have stores, whether online or physical, should have unique packaging to match their identity and brand. In one glance at your product and the way it’s packaged, your customers should be able to get a fairly good sense of who you are as a small business. You want this to be consistent across the board, so educating your staff about proper handling and packaging should be included as a part of the training process.
Pro tip: Let the employees do a demo of the packaging during training so if they commit a mistake, it will be easier to correct them. Make the training session as productive as possible. We suggest role playing. This allows your staff to see things from the customer’s perspective as well.
#3 Clean your Workspace
Having cluttered shelves is a quick way to discourage customers from buying products from your store. Be sure that you have a logical, strategic system in place on how to organize products accordingly. This makes the shopping process easier for both the customers and the staff. Labels can be quite handy as well as barcodes. There are also systems that can automatically categorize each item in the inventory list and then designate where they should be displayed.
After sorting all the items, you will want to make sure that it’s easy for team members and customers alike to find the products they need. You may consider color coding or putting up additional signage to guide shoppers through the store. Remember to educate your team members about how the sorting and classifying was initially done so whenever customers need help, they’re in the know.
After all that traffic has come through your store, there will undoubtedly be dirt from the customers’ shoes and trash scattered around the floor. Every store or workspace needs to be cleaned from time to time, but just like packaging, there should be a standard on how cleaning should be done. Create checklists for the employees to follow in regards to what needs to be cleaned, the products to be used, and the frequency of the cleanings.
As a small business owner, what are you doing to prepare your inventory for sales? How do expect this will help you this holiday season? Share your comments below.
~ Jamara Wilson, Team Tuxedo Impressions LLC™