Preparing for Christmas

christmas-preparationEveryone knows that the Christmas period is often one of the busiest periods of the year for businesses and that means you will need to plan in advance so that you deliver the best quality service to your customers.  If however, you’re a customer then it’s really important that you plan your Christmas purchases in advance so that you avoid disappointment at Christmas time.

We mentioned in a previous blog that you need to ensure you have products in stock and that if you don’t, your customers will not be happy. If you advertise a product as being in stock, but it’s not then although it’s reasonable for your customers to wait a few days for the product, if it’s going to be longer than that you need to let your customers know BEFORE they place the order, or at the very worst, right after the order has been placed. Don’t wait until a couple of weeks after they’ve placed the order to let them know you can’t provide it.

It was said in last week’s blog that it would be bad customer service and leave people with the wrong impression of your company. That holds true. Failure to keep your customers informed of product delivery will just annoy them and potentially lead to even the most loyal of your customers walking away.

When a customer walks away once, and goes to another retailer, online or otherwise, that shift away from you once, could potentially stop buying from you all together and that could also cost you, other customers, and no business, online or otherwise wants that so ensure you only sell products you have in stock, and keep your customers informed.

Christmas is a busier time for all types of retailers, including online. That means you are going to have increased needs and require increased staff numbers to ensure you meet your customers’ needs. Although you may not think it’s necessary for an online retail environment because you aren’t dealing with customers face to face, it is still worth hiring extra staff to cope with the increased demand. You do not need to hire them on a permanent full-time basis if you only have a short-term need. You can instead plan for this period by hiring the right number of staff. Even when you’re running an online store it’s important to have enough staff to cater for customer requirements. Those staff will be in the warehouse and they’ll be in your distribution centre because even as an online retailer those requirements are the same as retail outlets.

As a customer, most stores anticipate and plan the Christmas rush. There will be increased demand and pressure on retailers and postal services. Ultimately that means you need to order your products earlier than you normally would so that they will arrive on time for Christmas Day. A good rule of thumb is to order a few weeks before Christmas. That will allow for any shipping delays if the retailer needs to order the goods in, and it will allow for potential delivery to the gift recipient, although, to cut down on transportation time, you could get the item delivered to them directly rather than getting it delivered to you first. That will save you considerable time.

There are always crowds at Christmas time because people leave their shopping until the last minute. They don’t tend to plan in advance so that can also lead to disappointment three days before Christmas when people do all their shopping. It doesn’t have to be that way though. You can buy throughout the year, and that way you will not only get all the products you want, you will also avoid significant disappointment and will not be left wondering what you’re going to get people for Christmas. There’s nothing worse than receiving a gift a few months late, so if there is someone you’re buying make sure you buy in advance, especially if it’s a popular product like an iPhone or something else that is likely to sell out by the time Christmas rolls around.

If, of course, you do leave your Christmas shopping until the last minute then you should set a spending limit and stick to it. If you don’t, it would be very easy to get caught up in the Christmas madness and spend way more than you intended to, or worse yet, buying what you don’t need. That said, if you see an item on sale, why not save it for next year if it’s an item that is likely to remain on trend for a considerable time period.

These tips should help you as a retailer deal with the Christmas rush, and should also help you as a customer so that you don’t need to worry about missing out on the ideal product for your friends or family members.