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Earlier this week we posted a story telling blog post on the challenges which the holiday period presents to growing retailers.

In order to get a real understanding of the challenges faced, and in an effort to pass on real hard-earned advice, we spoke with our customers about their real experiences over this busy period. Here are 9 of our favourites:

1. Get staffing right.

“Having enough staff in to cover the rush is vital. We recently acquired a new business and weren‘t sure what to expect, but thankfully got it about right with temporary staff.” 

- Tim Elliot, Old Pond Publishing

2. Think creatively.

“The holiday season is actually our slowest time of the year as we do not sell many items that would be considered gifts. We worked extra hard this year on one of our few products that does sell during the holidays. We dropped the price dramatically just prior to Thanksgiving and had a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. This gave Google a couple of days to pick up the new price in their shopping feed and we were able to better compete this year with Target, Walmart and Amazon. We also marketed the sale on Facebook and Twitter to help get the word out.” 

- Bryan Bentz, Hat Trick Sports

3. Instill confidence.

“We learnt a lot from Christmas 2013 and implemented a few changes. The best one was running Free Next Day Delivery the week before Christmas when people were last minute shopping. Every message on the site was aimed at reassuring people that their delivery would be in plenty of time for Christmas and, best of all, it was free! This really helped boost our conversion rate for this week when sales had slowed down during the previous year.” 

- Kayla Maratty, SpyCameraCCTV

4. Track emerging trends.

“Black Friday has became a huge event in the UK as well as the USA. We didn‘t realise how many other UK stores would be taking part in Black Friday and having a sale. This something we can be more prepared for next year!” 

- Maisie James, Drum Shop

5. Be prepared.

“Prepare marketing materials well in advance. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all contained in a short period of time, it can be easy to be overwhelmed and to overlook important money-making opportunities. Have a calendar with all promotions and plans scheduled out so your team is ready to follow through with all marketing plans since timing is key!” 

- Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

6. Cross-promote.

“Never underestimate the power of online sales channels, such as eBay and Amazon. Not only do they drive more sales, they also increase your online presence. If people are buying from the same eBay or Amazon shop regularly, chances are, they will find your website and buy directly through your store.” 

- Dom Greenslade, FJG Online

7. Plan your stock purchases.

“Be prepared for the stock you need in the run up to the holiday season. It‘s easy to not order enough stock, then panic buy too much when you run out.”

- Tim Elliot, Old Pond Publishing

8. Leverage promotions.

“The main learning point I have taken from this holiday season is to treat every week as a holiday week. New promotions and newsletters even just once a week can boost sales. Customers crave the feeling that they are receiving a product at a huge discount.” 

- Steven Thomas, Face and Body Shoppe

9. Know your seasonality.

“Not every product sells well during the holiday season. We found out that nobody wants to buy Personal Protective Equipment when they're preoccupied with Christmas shopping!” 

- James Detain, Encompassed

 

Have you got any tips or observations from your holiday season? We'd love to hear them - just drop us a comment below!

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About the Author

James is a UK-born entrepreneur and senior SaaS executive who is currently SVP Customer Success and President North America at Brightpearl Inc.