Six steps to cope with the Christmas shopping madness

How do you cope with Christmas shopping madness?

Christmas season is undoubtedly one of the best times for businesses.

People are generally happy because of the long holidays, and more importantly – ready to spend their hard earned money on themselves and others.

And judging from the “Click Frenzy” brouhaha last week, we know that consumers are mad about online shopping.

According to a report by Getprice, more than 80 percent of consumers research online before making a purchase. Thus, it’s no surprise that MYOB research also shows that SMEs with a website were 53 percent more likely to see a rise in revenue.

However, there’s usually more competition for the shopper dollar this Christmas season so companies should plan a range of tactics to attract customers.

Try raising your profile via targeted marketing, advertising and promotions to help gain a competitive advantage. They don’t have to cost a bomb – try public relation activities or strategic partnership.

In addition, here are 6 steps you can do to gear up for success this silly season.

1.    Review and learn from last year’s activities

Take a look at the performance of the last festive season to pinpoint the positive and negative aspects. How well did each of your products, services and promotions perform? What about other operational aspects? Did you cope with the extra volume of customers or increased web traffic? Think about what you can do this year to improve results such as using social media, new promotions, working a niche target group or changing the layout of your shop.

2.    Get online

Establish a simple website or revamp your existing one as it’s a powerful tool to help increase awareness and sales. An easy-to-use website builder such as MYOB Atlas helps you create an attractive website with its own .com.au domain name and email in 15 minutes. It’s free for the first year, pre-configured for Google searches, and includes ecommerce functionality via PayPal.

3.    Shout from the rooftops

Don’t be shy about making your business as visible as possible. Promote your unique selling points (most value or choice, best service, longest warranties, local, eco-friendly, etc.) to remind loyal customers and attract potential ones. Consider adding limited-time discounts or expanding your sales/marketing channels.

4.    Boost staffing resources if required

Hiring extra staff can help with the extra volume of customers in the lead up to Christmas. The tax-free threshold increase to $18,200 should encourage more part time workers to return to the workforce as it becomes more financially viable, so SMEs might be able to draw from a larger group of skilled candidates.

5.    Prepare your team to up the client service ante

Get your team ready via briefings on all store policies, service and complaint procedures, promotional stock and other important business aspects. Conduct training sessions to prepare them for the extra volume of customer and supplier interactions. They will be under more pressure than usual but so will shoppers. A smile and a positive, helpful attitude will make the busy period more pleasant for all.

6.    Keep your business house in order

There will likely be an abundance of gift wrapping paper, boxes, etc. as well as more paperwork. Get organised to reduce admin time and stress levels. Up to date accounting software, such as MYOB LiveAccounts or AccountRight Live, acts like a virtual assistant by automating many aspects of this. It also gives you a comprehensive snapshot of your business at any time to help you better control things like your cash flow, payroll, inventory and invoices.

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, perform a business health check with your business adviser to help kick start your path to financial success in the New Year. Finally, business tends to be quieter post-Christmas so if possible, take some time off for a holiday to unwind and reinvigorate. You definitely deserve it.