Are you ready for the Christmas crush?

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Getting ready for Christmas, especially in retail, takes more than putting up some Christmas decorations – and it’s vital that you get it right.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, retail spending in December last year hit $25.6 billion with figures trending to hit this mark again this year.

However, for retailers it’s the work they put in right now which will determine just how much of that pool they’re able to grab come Christmas.

Here are four key ways you can prepare for the Christmas rush not just to survive, but thrive.

1. Deliver a personal service

Everybody talks about how all Christmas shopping is done with online-only retailers, but the situation on the ground is a bit different to that.

According to KPMG, 44 percent of Australians made their last online purchase from a ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer’s online store – compared to 35 percent who purchased from an online-only retailer.

Apart from showing the need consider both online and offline, it demonstrates that people are still buying into a more traditional retail experience.

That means things like having sales stuff who know their stuff and delivering a best-in-class service.

Holiday shopping can be super-stressful for shoppers, and having a great service can mean that they leave your store with a smile on their faces and more likely to come back in the new year.

2. Get your inventory sorted

There’s nothing worse than going into a store with an idea of what you want to buy, only to find that they’ve run out of it.

In fact, it’s infuriating.

Having the right amount of stock in the storeroom is the simple solution to this problem.

You can use analysis based on the previous year’s sales to give you some good insights into how people shop. For example, did you find that last year you really got a rush on Christmas Eve? Make sure you’re in a position to have stock on hand at that time this year.

READ: A quick guide to business forecasting

On the flip-side, if you’re being a little bit short on stock come Christmas time and you’re also a bit strapped for cash, you can miss out on an opportunity.

A solution like MYOB Loans Powered by OnDeck can provide fast and flexible funding in as fast as one business day.

3. Hire enough staff

Customers also hate it when they get to a store, but they can’t find anyone to help them – so it’s a good idea to make sure you have enough staff on hand to cater to demand.

Securing casual staff well in advance will give you enough time to train them up adequately.

There are sites like Jora Local which can help you secure casual staff.

However, as any small business owner will know – onboarding a whole bunch of new employees at once (casual or otherwise) can be a headache of paperwork and data entry into your payroll solution.

Try a solution like TANDA, which in itself is a great staffing solution, but has also recently come up with something really cool:

Paperless onboarding.

It basically cuts down on the data entry for managers, as staff can enter their own details, which then feed into the software to make sure they’re getting the right award and well as lodge TFN declarations online directly with the ATO. This removes the requirement for paper copies, ensuring everything’s hunky-dory.

4. Get paid what you’re owed

Christmas maybe the season of generosity, but it’s also when a lot of business owners find the amount of money owed to them piles up as people start to close up shop for the end of the year.

This obviously hits cash flow (which is a cause of 90 percent of small business failures) into the new year.

Normally making sure you’ve chased up all your customers for payment takes a lot of leg-work and a lot of time on the phone making super-awkward phone calls.

Luckily, there are tools like ezyCollect out there which can take the awkward out of the situation by automating follow-up to customers.

This will allow you to focus on maximising sales during the Christmas period, while giving you the best possible shot at starting the new year in a better cash position.

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