Are you ready for the holiday season? Black Friday is fast approaching and you've certainly held a meeting or two to get your staff on the same page for the Christmas shopping rush.
Because so much of your year's profit is made from now until the end of the calendar year, planning and execution are crucial.
"For many merchants, 40% of their annual business is generated between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, so planning ahead to make the most of the busy holiday shopping season is critical," wrote Mary Ellen Biery of Sageworks, in a recent Business Insider column.
Biery interviewed Brian Goudie of Atlanta-based e-commerce/payment processing firm First Data, who reminds retailers (and restaurants) that now's the time to make sure your checkouts run smoothly and that your point-of-sale system doesn't frustrate impatient customers.
Goudie offers the following five suggestions as things to do now during your holiday retail planning:
- Look at the big picture and inventory your situation. Make sure you're offering enough payment options. Even if you don't expand to accept more card types, do you have enough terminals to meet demand?
- Anticipate a bigger bill for payment processing. "Avoid a big cash flow shock after the holidays by thinking ahead, and planning for a bigger bill in January. Some people do as much as 40% to 50% of the year's sales in one month -- if you're charged 2% of your sales for payment processing, you may need to plan for an $800 tab."
- Train new hires now. "Whether it's a credit-card terminal, or a point-of-sale system, your seasonal hires need to be compfroatble processing various forms of payment quickly."
- Get gift-card savvy. "In addition to training part-time workers on gift-card transactions, you need to make sure now that you have plenty of preloaded cards and are taking advantage of social media such as Facebook to leverage gift cards' marketing benefits."
- Protect your customers' data. "Merchants must secure cardholder data to meet payment-card industry rules, and many businesses undergo an annual audit to make sure they meet the standards."