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Winter is coming: Find the festive spirit now to boost Christmas sales

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It’s official – winter is coming. 1 September marked the first day of autumn and we are already noticing temperatures dropping as the nights draw in. Rather than become despondent though, this is actually the perfect time to reflect on your business to boost Christmas sales.

This is especially true if you’re a small retailer – make sure the company is ready digitally before the busy festive period hits.

As small business owners know only too well, running a firm has its ups and downs and it can often be a real challenge to adapt appropriately. In fact, recent research by O2 Business found that 34 per cent of small businesses admitted they were unable to meet demand at peak times, such as Christmas.

However, by implementing a few small changes in the months before 25 December, you can ensure your business is able to flourish and take advantage of the peak period with a Christmas sales boost. SMEs needn’t invest huge amounts of time or finances into bolstering their businesses.

A few simple changes will help you to keep up in the digital age and adapt to customer demands and market changes quickly.

Here are my top tips on how to prepare now and boost Christmas sales:

Make some noise

Social media has become the norm for all types of businesses and it’s a chance for entrepreneurs to participate in online social communities. It is an important tool as it allows business owners to have direct communication with customers and inspire them to engage with a brand.

According to behavioural data, there are five different customer periods throughout Christmas: early shoppers, peak planners, Black Friday deal hunters, Christmas gifters and those that are sales-savvy.

Use this data to put together a social media strategy, creating content for each “customer phase” that’s relevant, timely and appropriate for your target market. Help customers get what they want, when they want, and how they want.

Last year over one million people in Britain had completed their Christmas shopping by July, so schedule festive posts soon for the chance to boost Christmas sales because it’s not only businesses who are getting into the festive spirit early.

Social platforms like Instagram and Tumblr are being used as places where people are going for inspiration about gifts too. Dubbed “social shoppers”, nearly a third of online shoppers (31 per cent) say they are using brands’ social pages for inspiration on what to buy.

Facebook is the most popular network people are using (26 per cent), followed by Instagram (eight per cent) and Pinterest (six per cent). Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of all respondents follow brands to get gift ideas.

Investing in your website

Businesses can be high-maintenance and even the most successful entrepreneurs often need help handling the “so much to do, so little time” dilemma. Because of this many SMEs still remain surprisingly “invisible” online.

Creating a business presence online may initially take time away from other tasks, however it is essential for accessibility, brand building and reaching out to a wider audience. As the internet never sleeps, having an online presence means your business will have a virtual 24-hour showroom.

In today’s digital age, many consumers prefer to buy goods and services online. In 2015, 76 per cent of UK adults bought products or services online, up from 53 per cent in 2008.

It’s also very important for your website to be optimised for mobile phone usage too as the average Britain spends nearly two hours online each day using a smartphone, compared to just over an hour spent online by laptop and PC users.

The two remaining guidelines that can be taken to boost Christmas sales can be found on the next page.

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