The future of commerce post-COVID appears to be bright. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales in 2021 will be between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent higher than that of November and December 2020. And let’s be honest… the rebound couldn’t come fast enough for small firms in the United States.
This industry suffered a beating in the aftermath of the emergence of COVID-19 in March 2020, with an estimated 400,000 small firms shutting between March and June alone. Positive change, on the other hand, is on the way. Even businesses that were most hit by the closure, such as leisure, hospitality, and personal services, witnessed a rebound in the third quarter of 2021.
Now is the time to take advantage of the recovering market. But to do so, you’ll need to plan ahead for the Christmas sales surge. Create a bold strategy that takes into consideration increased capital output, short-term debt, and the possibility of inventory shortages owing to supply chain concerns. Reference last year’s holiday sales figures to serve as a baseline. You could be in for a hot winter.
Increased holiday spending is the ideal opportunity to make up for revenue lost over the previous 18 months. You could even exceed your sales targets if you prepare wisely. Here are five pointers to help you get started on the road to success.
- Set your goals
Make a note of Small Business Saturday. The Small Business Administration is a co-sponsor of this national holiday, which was developed by American Express and honors America’s small companies. It falls on the Saturday following Thanksgiving in 2021, which is November 27. Make it your major goal to prepare for that day.
Preparing for Small Business Saturday is a no-brainer because it has become a significant event that can be leveraged for a host of possibilities. Aim to grow sales year on year on this date. Note down your sales figures for Small Business Saturday 2020, 2019, and 2018, and set them as your targets to beat.
This simple approach is underpinned by the need to expand. If you don’t try to grow and develop, you simply won’t survive. Referencing your previous sales data is an ideal starting point for understanding where you are at the moment and where you intend to go. A good starting goal can be the reduce fixed costs like utilities and insurances. You can compare business insurance policies online across multiple providers to see what works for your business.
- Get the right inventory in place
Unless you operate a service-orientated firm, effective inventory management will be critical to your success over the holiday period. It would be a complete disaster if you had insufficient stock to service customer orders or ran out of the materials that are required to complete orders. Concentrate on how you’ll stock up while keeping your spending under control and ensuring you don’t have surplus inventory.
Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, supply chain issues have arisen, affecting a wide spectrum of enterprises. You may have to get inventive if you can’t obtain the materials, machinery, or supplies you need in time.
In some cases, if you have inventory and your competitors don’t, you can seize the opportunity to charge a premium for your goods. Prices can rise significantly when goods are scarce. Small Business Saturdays used to be about merchants depleting inventory, but that’s no longer the case. In the post-COVID era, people just want goods, even if they are more expensive.
Keep in mind where the items are coming from, as well as the fact that you want customers to return after the holidays. For months or even years, supply chain issues may continue to be chaotic. Another alternative is to offer things made locally or within the country, which won’t be held up at the port. That way, you’re often supporting other small businesses.
- Refine your marketing strategy
Marketing is an integral part of how you connect with your customers and communicate what you do. However, it is critical that you get it right; otherwise, you could waste your money.
Start with establishing a strong social media presence. You can reach an incredible amount of new consumers with simple and easy-to-create photos and videos of your products and services.
The more imaginative you are on platforms such as TikTok, Pinterest, and Instagram, the better. What’s more, investing in the development of great social media posts can pay off long after the holiday season is over.
Use every available technique to reach new clients, including buying Facebook and Google advertisements and scanning sites where journalists go for information and specialists. Sites such as Help a Reporter (HARO) can help you connect with journalists who may mention your product or service in a holiday round-up if it’s interesting enough.
If you’re too busy running your business to manage the marketing piece of the pie, hire someone to run your marketing campaign. A public relations expert can assist you in developing the most successful advertising and media plan possible. Their duty is to get you noticed so that you can grow your sales. If funds are an issue, connect with college students on a break from school or internship who want to obtain practical experience in managing low-cost social media campaigns. The majority have had training in social media marketing, and the price may be reasonable.
- Make sure you have an online store
Even if you currently have a physical shop, look at online storefronts and e-commerce platforms if you haven’t previously. Because COVID safety is still a concern for many customers, a portion of Christmas buyers opt to purchase online. Others have learned that pressing the “purchase” button is more convenient than looking for parking, waiting in long lines, or wasting time searching around stores and malls.
The majority of internet stores are simple to start up and cost little money. Shopify’s basic subscription, for example, is only $29 per month. Etsy charges a $0.20 per item listing fee and a transaction fee of 5% of the price you show. Amazon’s professional plan is $39.99 per month plus any additional selling expenses.
Make sure you also provide customers with the option of receiving their purchases via contactless delivery or pick-ups. The key right now is to be adaptable. For many people, COVID threats continue to linger. Try to find ways to serve them in a way that allays any fears they may have.
- Monitor your finances
The assets, inventories, and liabilities of your firm are all shown on a balance sheet. Make one right now. You can run the figures with the aid of a small business calculator.
Your company is in the red if it has more debt than assets (for example, loans or small-business credit cards). It’s in the black if you possess more assets than you owe. In any scenario, you’ll want to be ahead of the game, taking advantage of this season’s deals to pay off debt or increase income.
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It’s also critical to get and keep your finances in order, especially during the hectic Christmas shopping season. QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks accounting software packages can help you stay on track. You may use them to quickly and easily keep track of accounts receivable (money owing to you), accounts payable (the amount you need to pay vendors or suppliers), available cash, and payroll.
Last but not least…
Stick to your strategy, and don’t be hesitant to delegate important tasks to people who can perform them better or quicker. Your primary goal should be to get your product or service in front of as many people as possible in order to have a blockbuster year. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be well on your way to exceeding your goals for the Christmas season of 2021 and beyond.