Guest column: How retailers can get ready for the holidays (opinion)
It may only be early November, but if you’re a small business retailer you know the holidays are right around the corner.
Whether you’re planning a big push to boost sales or working to make sure inventory can meet demands, preparation is key. From brick-and-mortar retailers to e-commerce sites, finding ways to best monitor cash flow or reach your customers can define the impact to your bottom line.
So how can retail small business owners make sure they are ready to make the most of this critical time?
Here are some ways you can streamline your business in time for this holiday shopping season:
Have the right plan for your business’s cash flow
Your business is unique, from the products you provide to the suppliers you work with and the people you hire. Having a cash flow projection that takes into account your business’s unique model means you can better monitor your cash flow needs and adjust for any fluctuations that might occur.
From vendors to financing to inventory, the ability to effectively manage all of your cash flow elements using the latest tools will ensure that you are able better to serve your customers and grow your business.
Transitioning to digital payments
While you may have heard that cash is king, more and more small businesses are finding that there are significant advantages to going digital. With 78 percent of consumers choosing credit cards or mobile wallets as their preferred form of payment, now is the time to make sure the widest range of customers have access to what you’re selling.
A recent analysis also showed that the average cost of processing digital payments, including direct expenses and labor costs, is 57 percent less than that of non-digital payments. So not only does transitioning your business to accept digital payments make sense from a customer service perspective, but it saves small business owners money as well.
Work smarter using the right tools
A craftsman is only as good as the tools at his disposal, and as more facets of consumers’ lives become even more tied to digital and mobile, awareness of the tools and services you can use to better run your business are more essential than ever.
For instance, point-of-sale tools can help customers more easily pay for services and assist in the streamlining of tracking transactions and planning for business growth, providing benefit for both the business owner and the customer.
Having the right tools to protect your business is also important in this increasingly digital market. Ensuring your cybersecurity, both for online retail and internal systems, is critical to protecting both your business and your customer’s information.
From being aware of possible risks to making sure your employees are fully aware of and trained in security measures, your efforts can decrease the likelihood that a cyber-attack disrupts your business during the holidays.
Know how you’re reaching your audience
The higher volume of shoppers seen during the holidays also means that making yourself stand out from the competition is more important than ever. Therefore taking an analytical look at how you’re going to market your business can be very impactful to your bottom line.
What discounts should be offered for the holidays (if any)? Is your search engine optimization (SEO) making it as easy as possible for shoppers to find your online presence? Can potential customers easily find your business if they look on a popular social media platform?
These are all questions you should be considering as the holiday season approaches. Also, speaking of social media, take time to determine the best way to manage your online presence, whether it’s doing it yourself, hiring a specific person to manage it or even utilizing a third-party vendor.
If you’re a retail small business owner, the holidays are an important time to have your operations streamlined to meet your goals and provide your customers with the best possible products and service. With proper planning and the right considerations, the holidays can be a great time for you, your customers and your business as the year comes to a close.
Lester Romero is the vice president and small business leader for Wells Fargo in South Lake Tahoe.