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But It's Still August! Welcome to Holiday Rush Planning for Small Business

by Jill Foster on August 12, 2009

It’s in the heat of summer.
We’re surrounded by swimming pools, baseball, and sweet iced tea. But as small business owners, what was a few months ago a distant event has now become a present deadline needing our attention.

(Image Santa in the Summer Street, Kewel Shang, Creative Commons)

Welcome to planning for the holiday rush!
Before time slips too far away, I wanted to offer some thoughts for those gearing up for that time of year from an inventory and small business perspective.

Inventory-related
1.) Since I sell furniture, this tip comes to mind. Holiday orders are placed months in advance – many times at the spring gift and furnishing shows. For many reasons, vendors will choose to sell and display any strictly “holiday” items very selectively since they aim to lower investment risk by keeping minimal stock.

2.) Choose and/or showcase more items that one would consider gifts (by pricepoint, item category, etc.) as well as smaller items that ship in boxed packages that aren’t necessarily holiday in theme so if they don’t sell out over the holiday, they can be carried into the New Year.

3.) Educate yourself on various manufacturer’s policy for stocking holiday goods. Given the buying cycle, many manufactures offer only a certain amount and sell out of these items as early as the spring gift and furnishing shows. Therefore, unless you have ordered certain items well in advance you will not have the option to feature them in your store.

Thoughts on merchandising
1.) For your e-commerce business, consider merchandising to highlight holiday items and include “holiday” as a category and search term.

2.) Determine holiday promotions based upon industry trends/buyer expectations and your own business model.

3.) Take advantage of any upselling opportunities.

Regarding Web site function for your business
1.) Monitor site function to ensure everything is working properly prior to the holiday season.

2.) Use Google Analytics to monitor customer behavior so that changes can be made as necessary.

Question to you:
What resources do you use to keep things running smoothly? What helps prepare your business for customers during holiday seasons?

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Guest post by Rebecca Malik, president of online contemporary furniture business 17th and Riggs. Rebecca thrives off of beautiful home design and explores related conversation at her blog The View from 17th and Riggs. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband (…and growing pet family). Rebecca welcomes your visit at her blog or www.Twitter.com/RebeccaSM.

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