Believe it or not, but the holiday season is upon us! You might still be basking in the afterglow of summer, but winter is upon us, and you know what that means: It’s time to start preparing your business for the holidays.

Overall, the holiday season brings the biggest amount of sales to large companies. As a small business owner, this is your season to beef up your own visibility. Don’t give shoppers a reason to overlook you this holiday season.

Use these tips to get your retail or e-commerce business ready for the holidays:

1. Ensure Your Website is Ready

When last did you update your brand? Now is the time to tidy up, freshen and prepare your website for the holiday rush. Depending on the type of website you use, you may need to:

  • Refine, adjust, and update product listings.
  • Check to ensure that your search function works as it should.
  • Clarify shipping costs and delivery deadlines.
  • Place contact details where it is easy to find (in the header or footer of each page).
  • Test the checkout process to ensure it is simple and functional.

If your business is e-commerce only, consider categorizing items into gift categories to make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. You may also want to consider selling gift cards, as that will help increase post-holiday sales.

Updating your website is important, whether you’re using your website as an e-commerce platform or as a marketing tool for your brick and mortar retail store. The following tips are especially important to the latter:

  • Update your Google Local Search information as well as on Local.com.
  • Put a map as well as coordinates and the full address of your retail store on your site, including your phone number and hours of operation.
  • Ensure that your site is mobile friendly. A majority of shoppers use smartphones to find stores nearby.
  • Add a click-to-call button to your site to make it extra simple for customers to call you.

In addition to preparing your online presence, consider how you will add a festive touch to your store using decor, lighting, music and possibly scented candles. Cinnamon, pine, and apple are great this time of the year.

Many of the principles included in our blog, 4 Tips to Prep Your Website for Festival Season Traffic, can be applied to the holiday season.

2. Plan Your Promos

As you might have guessed, marketing is key to holiday success in a small business. Plan your marketing period for November first through January first now, including:

  • discounts and deals
  • lead generation methods
  • your marketing budget
  • customer loyalty rewards
  • daily marketing

Pre-holiday promotions are always very exciting, and an excellent way to get ahead of the competition.

3. Tidy Up Your Social Media Reputation

Many online and offline shoppers use reviews and social media to choose where they want to shop. Now is the time to tidy up your online presence and ensure that your company’s reputation is in good shape. Use a monitoring tool to keep an eye on mentions so that you can quickly respond to any negative reviews or comments.

While you’re at it, start preparing your editorial calendar and schedule posts to go out throughout the season. That way, it’s one less thing to be busy with while serving all your holiday customers.

4. Review Your Inventory

Do a sales forecast based on last year’s performance and see where you need to stock up. Ideally, your business should offer good representation or products at all the different price points.

Once you have done your preparations, it is time to sit back, relax and enjoy your last few weeks of peace before the holiday rush. Think of it this way: You may be busy over the holiday season while everyone is resting, but you will make great profits that will help you out when the post-holiday sales hit the shelves.