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Summer isn’t even over — we can’t possibly be thinking about holiday shopping, can we? The answer is yes. And if you aren’t assessing how to prepare your business for one of the busiest days of the year, Black Friday, then you are already at a disadvantage. Now is the time to make sure your business is running smoothly, inventory is being planned to handle the holiday rush, tools to maximize customer conversion are being put in place and ways to extend the holiday sales spike beyond traditional U.S. peak holiday shopping times are being thought through.
Here are a couple key things to be on the lookout for and have in place for the holidays:
Develop a mobile-ready website.
No matter the size of your business, customers want to either browse or make purchases on their mobile devices. Mobile web traffic is now over 50 percent of all web traffic according to StatCounter, a firm that monitors global internet usage, so it is critical that a business’s website is mobile-optimized to ensure that customers can navigate, search, choose and pay for their selections quickly and easily. This is even more important during peak shopping times.
Consider what enables a customer to easily move from product selection to checkout. Keep the design simple and adaptable to small screens, use larger fonts and buttons, minimize data entry and — most importantly — remember to take time ahead of Black Friday to test it out! A number of platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, and BigCommerce can help create an online and mobile store with powerful features and options, right out of the box.
Make purchasing simple — both online and offline.
If customers can’t buy it with a few clicks, they will easily take their business elsewhere and abandon their carts. Research shows that more than 45 percent of all cart abandonment occurs during the payment stage of checkout. Giving customers a seamless checkout experience, like using PayPal’s One Touch or another digital wallet, and providing payment choice, like all types of debt and credit card options, is critical to ensure they keep their business with you.
For offline purchases, merchants should also make sure they are equipped with the right technology to ensure they can accept all types of payments through their point-of-sale solution. Whether in a brick-and-mortar location or at a pop-up shop, having a mobile card reader gives you the flexibility to accept payments anywhere and everywhere.
Utilize business efficiency tools.
An email marketing system is one example of how businesses can easily boost consumer awareness of holiday promotions. With customers engaging on so many digital channels, email marketing is still one of the most efficient means of connecting with customers.
It’s necessary to partner with an email service that allows you to send communications like newsletters, updates and helpful information about upcoming holiday sales, as well as target your customers. More importantly, providers such as MailChimp and Constant Contact generally have the experience and best practices for email marketing, giving merchants precious time back to focus on other areas of the business.
Get the funding you need — and offer it to customers!
Money can be tight around the holidays for both you the business owner and your consumers. Consumers are stocking up on gifts for family and friends and you should be stocking up on inventory to be sure the products customers want are available and you have the staff on hand to deal with the increased holiday rush.
There are several companies that offer lines of credit and working capital for small businesses that need it. Having the right cash flow is important for merchants going into the holiday season. Merchants can also offer credit options that can turn browsers into buyers. For example, working with a partner than can offer customers credit options during checkout by simply entering two pieces of information allows consumers to buy higher-priced items and pay back on a more flexible schedule.
Take advantage of holidays around the globe.
And finally, selling globally and taking advantage of holidays around the world is not a hard thing to do anymore. Holidays like Boxing Day and Singles’ Day can be opportunities to entice shoppers from those countries. Having the right partners in place to help you sell cross-border with ease is crucial; certain partner programs can help merchants to create global versions of their website, translate, localize and even managing shipping and returns around the global.
It may only be August, but Black Friday and the frenzy of holiday shopping will be here in no time. Implementing the right tools ahead of time can take away some of the hassles and headaches that merchants often experiences. With a little bit of work and the right tools, this could be your busiest holiday season yet!