holiday salesHoliday season is upon us, which means a huge boost in sales for retailers. According to Inc., holiday sales in 2014 are expected to increase by 4.1% over 2013 and E-commerce is also expected to rise 9-12%. Not only is it the ideal buying time for consumers with Black Friday and Christmas shopping, it also allows companies to get creative with their holiday marketing campaigns.

While everyone loves revenue and a boost in sales, it's important to plan ahead to ensure your business can meet the holiday rush. Paying attention to customer service and other customer touch-points that may need scaling is vital to ensure great buying experiences for your customers.

Here are five things you can do to help you plan properly for the holiday sales rush:

1. Develop your strategy early. Analyze your 2013 holiday sales. Identify the strategies that worked, and adjust those that didn’t. You need to be able to move and make changes as quickly and easily as your customers. Create a marketing calendar and budget to cover the entire holiday shopping season. Use all of your channels to engage and convert audiences. Offer specials and other incentives to reach new and existing customers. Daily social media deals attract customers, and rewards keep customers coming back.

2. Prepare your business and your staff. Ensure that they are ready to offer excellent customer service, and to deal with frustrated customers. You may need to provide additional training or hire more people to meet the needs generated by the holiday rush. Prepare your website and social media pages. They need to be able to handle high traffic, and your directory listings must be updated with accurate information. Use customer data to create direct mail and email lists for greater success in your campaigns. Manage your inventory, ensuring that top-selling items are in abundant supply. Update your website so online shoppers are aware of sales and can access product information.

3. Keep your existing customers coming back. Send them personalized emails and invite them to special events. Use social media to build trust, engage your customers and make them aware of new offerings. Send personal greeting cards to loyal customers during the holidays, and include coupons to direct them back to your store.

4. Attract new customers. Offer special discounts through newspaper ads, holiday supplements and direct mail. Use search engine marketing to target customers searching for products you offer. You can also partner with other organizations, including charities, to increase your visibility.

5. Monitor results. At the end of the holiday season, review your strategy and assess the outcomes. Compare sales to previous years and find the factors that made the difference. Use this information to develop your strategy for the next year. If you have excess inventory, run post-holiday specials and promote them widely.

Proper preparation for the holiday season can increase profitability for your business, if executed correctly. Failure to do so will not only stress out you and your staff, but it can also ruin your brand reputation. Map out your strategy and communicate it to your staff - with proper execution, you can have a great holiday season.