In just a couple of months, snow will be on the ground, people will be singing holiday cheers, and businesses will be competing for holiday customers.
While it may feel like it was just summer, it's never too early to start prepping for the holiday season. Business News Daily talked to business owners and experts about tips and tricks for preparing your business for holiday sales.
Here are four tips you can use to capture holiday shoppers early.
Celebrate and prepare for Small Business Saturday and local events.
It's easier to get customers when they're in the holiday spirit. People are ready to spend money on days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it can be hard to break through the noise and compete with big retailers like Amazon and Walmart. As an alternative, small businesses retailers should take advantage of events like Small Business Saturday and local events.
"[Small Business Saturday] is a huge day for sales and foot traffic and a great way to introduce the community (if they don't already know) to your company's offerings and services," said Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. "You can set up a welcome station to further entice shoppers to stop by and learn more about your business."
While Jacquie Young-Sterling, director of customer experience at Compliant IA, agrees that small businesses should take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, she also recommends making the most of other days.
"Try homing in on local events and throwing specials for those days," Young-Sterling said. "For example, most cities and towns have a day they turn on the lights on their outdoor holiday displays or [have] a Santa Clause parade. These would be great days to throw an event, because people will already be feeling that magical holiday spirit."
Optimize your website and make it mobile friendly.
With websites such as Amazon and Esty, e-commerce has never been more popular. Customers now expect a seamless and fast web experience. Customers will leave your website if it's slow, outdated or isn't user friendly.
"Site optimization should be at the top of your prep list," Sweeney said. "You want to make sure shoppers can access your site on desktop and mobile devices. The site itself should be easy to navigate, organized and fast for customer purchases."
Additionally, if you have an app, make sure it's updated and working properly. "Add seasonal touches to it too. If your business has an app that customers use, it should be updated and ready to go for the season," said Sweeney.
Offer discounts and convenience services.
Customers have a lot of holiday shopping options. To set your business apart from the competition, make your customers' lives easier by offering convenience services and help them save money with discounts or fun promotions.
"Starting now, each receipt for online transactions should have a call-to-action reminding customers to shop for the holidays," said Andrea Bertola Shaw, owner of The New York Website Designer LLC. "Offer an incentive such as free shipping or a discount code."
Offer complimentary convenience services that may not be a big deal for your business but will help your customers save time and money.
"The key to getting customers to buy early is to anticipate their needs and offer 'convenience' services, such as gift wrapping, pre-decorated tree delivery, whole prepared turkey meals," said Young-Sterling. "Placing time limits on offers or limited availability is a great way to create a sense of urgency, [an] 'I need to take advantage of this now' mentality in your customers."
She also said one of the main reasons people don't want to buy too early is because they don't want the burden of hiding and storing gifts for months. "Offer a 'buy now, ship in December' option so people can put their gifts straight under the tree."
Update your blog.
Along with discounts and an optimized website, create and update a blog with holiday content. You can promote blog posts on social media and encourage customers to visit your blog for exclusive discounts.
"Write a blog with holiday gift-giving guides," said Shaw. "[For] example, top 10 gift ideas for Mom/Dad/brother-in-law. Pack your posts with links to your items. Offer a discount with an expiration date of two weeks after the post is published."