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How to Prepare Your Retail Business for the Holiday Season

August 19, 2021 | Published by Faire

Photo via unsplash.com

The 2021 holiday season is rapidly approaching, and businesses are already beginning their holiday planning. As consumer shopping behavior continues to evolve in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, planning for the holiday season in advance is essential to help you navigate the coming months. To help set your business up for success, we’ve compiled a few tips on how you can best prepare your retail business for the holiday season. 

Plan your inventory

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales grew 8.3% in 2020, despite the pandemic. While we can’t predict what this year will hold, it’s important to take this spike in holiday shopping into account when planning your inventory for the season.  

The first thing you’ll want to consider when planning inventory is your budget. Calculate how much money to allocate by reviewing sales numbers from prior years. Take note of how much you sell on average during key shopping holidays like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and use those metrics to help predict how much inventory you’ll need. Next, decide when to do the majority of your buying. Many Faire retailers say they’ve already begun their holiday buying in order to better prepare for the months ahead. 

When planning your holiday ordering, do some research on what products are currently trending. While you may want to offer seasonal items in your store, it’s also wise to invest in evergreen best sellers. Think of products you could continue selling year-round should you find yourself with overstock. This is a smart way to cut down on your holiday budget and ensure you stock your shelves with products that appeal to customers shopping beyond the holiday season. Regardless of your buying strategy, taking time to carefully plan your inventory in advance can help you better prepare your business for success this holiday season. 

Prepare your e-commerce site

With an increase in online shopping in the past year, e-commerce channels are becoming equally as important as brick-and-mortar spaces. According to an Adobe study, e-commerce sales rose 32% in 2020. Though more retail spaces have re-opened in-person shopping since then, uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 is still prevalent, and the demand for online shopping has remained. Today’s consumers today are looking for safety and convenience when it comes to holiday shopping, and an easy-to-use e-commerce site will deliver. 

Now is the time to make sure your e-commerce site is up-to-date, from product details and photography, to shipping information. Spending extra time on quality photography of your products will allow you to appeal to customers by providing a heightened visual experience. 

It’s also worthwhile to ensure your online presence offers information about your business and how you got started. With more consumers looking to shop small and support businesses that reflect their values, providing an origin story on your website is a great way to appeal to new customers.

Finally, verify that your e-commerce site is easy to navigate. Make sure the journey from discovery to checkout is straightforward and seamless. If you’ve curated holiday-specific collections or gift guides, make sure they’re easy for users to find and shop on your website. 

Curate holiday gift guides

Gift guides can be a powerful sales tool for the holiday season. According to a recent survey conducted by Facebook, 63% of global shoppers said they enjoy discovering items they weren’t actively looking for. This appetite for discovery allows you the opportunity to surprise and delight customers by introducing them to unique gifts from your store. One easy way to showcase these products is by putting together a holiday gift guide.

To determine how to categorize your holiday gift guides, consider your target customer. Think about who they’re shopping for and what values are important to them. Then, factor in your holiday inventory strategy. Your holiday gift guides don’t have to consist of completely new, holiday-specific products. Instead, they can be curated in a way that best fits your catalog of products. 

Holiday shopping guides can be broken into a variety of categories, from gifts by hobby, lifestyle, or values. This is also a great opportunity to highlight your favorite or best-selling products. As an added incentive, try offering products grouped together as bundles for a discounted price. 

Expand your marketing channels

As more consumers turn to the Internet to discover new brands and shop, it’s important to increase your overall online presence. Today, more and more customers are using social media as a tool for discovery when online shopping. Having a presence on at least one social media platform is likely to increase your chances of reaching new customers. 

If you’re new to social media, try focusing on just one platform first. Instagram is a popular choice among creators and consumers for commerce. It’s also a great platform for keeping customers up-to-date on sales, holiday hours, and other important business information.

Similarly, email marketing can be another valuable tool in building your business’s online presence. If you haven’t yet, find a way to collect email addresses from your customers, whether it’s at a sign-up sheet at your store or a form on your website. Email marketing is a great way to engage new customers and build strong relationships with repeat customers. Emailing your patrons regularly keeps your business top of mind, and is an easy way to drive traffic straight to your e-commerce site. It’s also another avenue to advertise any current sales or curated holiday collections. 

Create eye-catching holiday displays

How you present your products can be just as important as the products themselves. Charm your customers this holiday season by utilizing visual merchandise to create striking seasonal displays. A seasonal display indicates to customers that your store is a destination for holiday shopping, and it can entice new customers to walk through the door. Today’s consumers are eager for unique experiences when shopping, and creating a holiday display can be an opportunity to increase the time they spend in your store—and encourage them to refer your business to friends.

Whether you choose to decorate for specific holidays or simply embrace a winter wonderland theme, don’t be afraid to get creative with your in-store displays. You can also share pictures of your holiday decorations on your social media to encourage shoppers to visit.

Make your brick-and-mortar a safe place to shop

Recently, we shared tips on adapting your brick-and-mortar business to the ever-changing retail landscape. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, it’s important to keep your customers and your employees feeling safe. Stay up-to-date on local CDC guidelines regarding Covid-19 safety and stock up on plenty of hand sanitizer to offer shoppers and employees.

Avoid overcrowding in your store by setting a capacity limit or alter your store’s layout to avoid cramped spaces. Additionally, continue to offer alternatives for shoppers who aren’t comfortable with in-person shopping like curbside pickup and online shopping. If possible, try to offer contactless payment options at your store.

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