Holiday sales can bring cheer to the heart of any small business owner. However, you need more than Santa's magic to have a successful holiday season. Good preparation is one of the key ingredients to produce record-breaking holiday sales for your business.

Prepare Your Inventory

There are usually new trends each year. Before stocking inventory for your business, pay attention to what customers want and stock up on those items. If you don't, you might have items on shelves for quite some time or items that customers want that you don't have on hand. Check with the sales representatives of your most important vendors; they may be running holiday specials of their own to make it easier for you to stock up ahead of the holiday season.

Decorate

Whether you have an online store or a brick-and-mortar store, decorate for the holidays. Customers often enjoy seeing twinkling lights, wreaths, Santa Claus, menorahs, kinaras, countdown clocks and snowflakes while they are shopping. Maybe even offer some warm apple cider at the door!

If your store is online, then consider using holiday-themed banners or images on webpages so customers can enjoy the season online too.

Plan Promotions

Promotions are an excellent way to attract new customers and bring back former customers. For online sales, free or reduced shipping is always an attractive choice. You can also offer coupons and discounts on orders. You'll also need to decide if you want to offer special deals on popular shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Once you've decided on your promotions, you can use your social media profiles to advertise your special deals and keep your customers in the loop about shipping deadlines and your store's holiday hours.

Defend Yourself and Your Customers Against Fraud

Because of the high volume of credit card purchases around the holidays, fraudsters target businesses and individuals the most at this time. Remind your customers to keep their credit card information safe, and make sure you’re signed up for our Advanced Fraud Detection Suite—it’s included with your payment gateway account, and protects merchants year-round with a complex algorithm and customizable fraud filters. The businesses most at risk tend to be those who takes donations or large lump sums, like nonprofits, service providers and specialty item stores. This is because the transactions are frequent and/or have a high price tag.

Add Flexible Payment Options

During the holidays, your customers may feel stressed with party planning and long shopping lists to complete. Offering easy and flexible payment options is a great way to remove some of the stress from holiday shopping. With Authorize.Net you can accept payments anywhere. Accept credit cards and eCheck.Net® on your website. Accept payments in person using the Authorize.Net mPOS mobile app and secure card reader available here. Or set up Visa Checkout where your customers can easily pay online with a single sign in.

Hire Seasonal Employees

Seasonal employees are a great way to handle the extra large crowds that often accompany the holiday season. Carefully consider where you need the most help; you may need extra hands on deck to staff your warehouse or run the cash registers. Hiring extra help before the holiday shopping season starts can give your temporary hires time to become fully trained before the rush of crowds overwhelms your business.

Brush Up Customer Service Skills

Good customer service is always a plus, but during the holiday season your customers will appreciate it even more. Take time to work with your employees to instill a positive customer service attitude and teach them conflict-resolution techniques. Delight your customers with candy canes in their shipments or hot apple cider in store. Employees who can handle difficult situations with a smile will be remembered by your customers and boost your company's reputation.

 

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.