Preparing for the peak retail season – Tips for SMEs
07 Nov 2018
It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is just around the corner and planning should already be well underway. Here are some tips and tricks for getting your email marketing prepared ahead of time.
Successful businesses plan ahead for the season and go into it organised, so they can make every day count. Here are some ideas for you to prepare and grow your SME business during the Festive Season and beyond:
1. In the digital era, one of an SME business's key means of generating new business is online communications. Make use of blogs, electronic newsletters and online social media platforms to lead potential customers back to your website where you can alert them to products and special offerings. This will give you an opportunity to establish a brand voice and develop customer loyalty.
2. Black Friday is coming up on 23 November 2018 and, whilst fast fulfilment is an important factor in ensuring great customer service, SMEs need to create a positive overall shopping experience to truly win with customers – and keep them coming back. E-commerce websites need to be optimised for performance and usability in order to reach and engage online consumers. Make sure your site is easy to navigate, that the checkout process is succinct, that communications relating to order status is streamlined, and shipping is timely. And don’t forget to follow up with special offer emails and product recommendations; even tempting them with a customer loyalty programme offering reward points to enhance loyalty and repeat business.
3. Consider diversifying your business services and/or products for the season. For example, if your SME business specialises in website development, how about offering a free Christmas card design for every website ordered and paid for?
4. Offer incentives. For bulk orders, for example, how about offering a discount for early payment? If annual figures show that your business sales drop significantly post-festive season in January let’s say, why not offer money-back sales coupons to all paying customers in November/December, encouraging them to come back to you in the new year?
5. Plan, plan, plan! Think about what you need - do you need to pre-order extra stock, how will you pay for it, what about cashflow? Make sure you keep on top of paperwork and ensure customers pay you promptly in order to maintain a strong cash position.
6. In this busy period, it is vital for SMEs to work closely with a specialist business adviser to determine the best way to maintain your cash reserves. They will work closely with you during this critical time, helping you determine the best payment terms for businesses and suppliers, as well as the best timing of invoice payments, all the while ensuring you're not compromising your working relationships.
7. Cashflow forecasting and budgeting models are increasingly important, not only to help you plan your finances, but they are commonly requested by banks and other providers of finance – essential if you require working capital to fill any gaps in cashflow ahead of the season. Choose an adviser who can work with you to ensure your cashflow forecasting, budgeting and business plans (the vision of where you want your business to go) is communicated in a professional format and gives you real time information to keep on top of business progress.
8. New year sales are not only a great way to move extra seasonal stock, but also good for connecting with existing and new customers. Use the power of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about offers and facilitate two-way conversation between your business and your customers.
With these and other strategies in place, your SME business can increase sales, capitalise on opportunities, improve customer service, and keep customers coming back, saving you more time to eat, drink and be merry!