Preparing for Christmas: Top tips for SMEs

Christmas preparations are soon to be in full swing, and retailers need to act now if they are to maximise the profit potential of this vital period.

Consumer spending will rise but competition is fierce, both on the High Street and online. So how can you make sure that your retail business is fighting fit for the festive season?

Act early 
It is important that you take early action in order to maximise the benefits of the holiday season. Begin to think now about the concrete steps you can take to ensure that you make the most of this important period. Use this article as a jumping off point to help you determine the right action for your business.

Think about staffing 
Christmas is an exceptionally busy period for retailers, and perhaps the most concrete result of this is that you may not have enough hands to do all of the work. While it can be difficult to predict the uptick in business that you might enjoy, for many retailers it will be reasonable to assume that you will need some extra help – especially as your employees will wish to take Christmas holiday. Consider approaching a local temping agency in order to find short-term help to help you over the bump.

Prepare for shipping
If you ship products elsewhere, you need to clearly set out your shipping terms, remembering that post can get held up over the festive period. Be realistic about the final shipping date before Christmas, and ensure that packages are sent promptly. Again, this may require you to take on extra staff.

Make over your premises…
Competition around Christmas is fierce, and it is important that your premises stands out. Many businesses are now in the early stages of revamping their shop windows and interiors in order to capture the festive spirit. You may be able to do this yourself, but you might also consider contracting with a shop designer to help you make a real splash.

…and your website
Your physical premises are not the only element of your business that needs sprucing up. If you have an online presence, you need to ensure that this is also properly prepared for the Christmas period. Consider adding festive graphics to your website, or changing the colour scheme to a classic Christmas red and green. You might also need to add extra pages setting out your Christmas shipping terms, and you should consider giving extra prominence to any ‘must-have’ items, displaying them clearly on your homepage.

Jason Stockwood is CEO of Simply Business.

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