holiday_marketing.jpgWinter is coming, and so is the big holiday season. Once Halloween has passed, it's full steam ahead for retailers. You'll be hearing "Jingle Bells" before it's even Thanksgiving, wondering if you're really, ready for the rush.

You and your team can either tremble in fear (and inaction) or get to work preparing for the holiday sales. Here's how to take the latter course of action.

Be Ready for Customer Research

Your current and future customers are doing more preliminary research these days on what they might buy around the holidays. And they're doing this research online, likely through their smartphones or other handheld devices. To be ready for all this searching, you want to make sure your online retail presence is research-ready by:

  • Freshening up your product descriptions (and images).
  • Optimizing your product descriptions around popular holiday search terms.
  • Looking over competitor sites for ideas.
  • Adding seasonal terms to your pages.

You want your products and pages to come up high on the screen when your potential customer searches online. And you want to make a good first impression when customers land at your digital storefront.

Watch Small Biz Saturday Webinar

Add Personnel and Suppliers

With all those prospective customers visiting your site, for pre-sale research and to make actual purchases, you're going to see an upward spike in demand for customer service. You'll need more people answering questions, making recommendations, and arranging purchases. The social media team is going to get busier, too, with all the promotional tweets and promos and blog articles you're putting out.

Get started now staffing up, or otherwise arranging personnel and suppliers outside your team, to meet these added seasonal demands.

Gear Up for Before, During, and After the Holidays

Your customers aren't done shopping when they receive their gifts. In fact, according to research, almost two-thirds of them plan to keep on after the holidays. You could be processing gift cards and dealing with returns for weeks and months. All that staffing up you're doing for the holidays may be tapering off afterward, but not disappearing altogether. Some holiday season personnel, depending on how well they work out with your regular team, might be asked to hang around a little longer.

While you're working up holiday sales promotions keep an eye on the post-holiday season. Can you easily make the transition from one pitch to the next?

Ramp Up Your In-Store Accessibility

In this digital age, your customers are increasingly going online while they're in your physical store to research the products they see on your shelves. Many do this through your retail app. Cater to this virtually-hybrid crowd with free in-store WiFi, online promos, and easy access to product reviews.