When you work in retail, this time of year is commonly referred to as the calm before the storm. We are in that sweet spot where November has started but the Christmas carols haven’t taken over yet (unless you’re absolutely Christmas crazy!)
As retailers, we are quietly preparing for battle. We are preparing for the busiest and the most revenue raising time of year.
I’ll be REAL with you though, last year, I made a few mistakes. I went into battle underprepared and with the wrong map (from a directional purpose point of view).
This year I’ve gathered the right intelligence and I’m ready.
Here are my hot tips for surviving Christmas 2016
1. Prepare early.
I have a jewellery business so I am able start making pieces in advance, unlike some retailers who have perishable goods. If you are able to, ensure that you can make as much as you can in advance as quick as possible. I start stocking up in September. I make the glass in advance, I do the image designs and make sure that I can do as much prep as I can before December.
This takes the pressure off me in December and I can focus on doing custom orders and selling at markets and posting all my orders, rather than making jewellery.
2. Over stock.
If you are able to overstock – do it. Whatever you don’t sell, you can always resell at a later time. That’s the reason that we have those ‘after Christmas Sales’.
3. Under commit.
One of the other mind fields – I mean – fun parts of Christmas, is the events.The invites come in – the parties, the alcohol, the drinks, all of the fun things. YES, yes- you will want to attend those 100 different events, but as a retailer, you have other fun priorities like working, making custom orders, dealing with difficult people, or perhaps even sleeping or other self-care festive activities to engage in.
I’m very careful to under commit and VERY honest about the reason why. I have enormously supportive people in my life, and I tell them it is very unlikely I will be able to attend. It takes the pressure off me and if I feel like hitting that party up, I can go. Sometimes Christmas Miracles happen.
4. Write it down. Write it down again.
I go as far as putting a notebook into my bag from November onwards. You will not remember all the things you think you are going to, you WILL forget. So, write it down. Out of milk? Email it to yourself. Need to order some more bags? Write it on your arm. Have to call that customer back? Straight in the diary. Need to schedule sleep? Remind yourself!
Take it from someone who dropped the ball circa 2015 around twenty times! WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!
5. Stock management.
Know your stock inside and out. Know what you have in store, what’s behind the counter. Update your website as often as possible with how much stock you have. Remember what you’ve sold and how much. Theft is high during this time of year, so this is something to be very mindful of.
6. Be prepared to say ‘no, sorry.’
As a small business owner, it is hard for me to say no to customers. I hate telling people we don’t have the design in store or that we are sold out of product they are looking for. I hate it.
People will also try to barter your products down especially if you are selling at a market. I would recommend having a strict policy on this one – albeit 10% over $100 or a firm ‘No’.
7. Advertise when you’re going on holidays.
Your customers will want to know the specific dates you are open and times over this season. Communication with your supporters is vital, be sure to advertise in store and online your opening and closure dates/times.
Finish as early as you can. Last year, I all but missed Christmas. I’m not making the same mistake this year. I will be taking some real time off and spending time off with the people I love. As of the 19th December everything will be closing down – and I will come up for air again. Also, we will not be taking another online order after 15th December. I want to be with my people as much as everyone else.
Have you noted down your dates yet?
So, take care of yourselves this holiday season. Do as much self-care as you need, ask for assistance when you need it, eat well and most importantly- remember, Christmas comes but once a year. You should enjoy it as well.
This is dedicated to all to retailers and small business owners, especially Emma Leah for preparing me for battle.