8 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season
The holiday season is an exciting, dynamic and demanding time of year for retailers. Excited customers running (or logging) into your shop from morning to night, often under the strain of finding the perfect gift for the perfect friend. You keep your cool, watch your inventory levels, rearrange merchandise, answer questions and keep your eye on the till. Business is going well. Even if you try to stay calm, cool and collected, however, at some point this time of year is going to get stressful for you and your staff. The number of customers goes up (if everything goes as planned), mistakes will happen, staff members may get upset. That’s all part of the magic of the season.
In all the mayhem, remember that there’s a lot that you can do to keep the holidays fun for yourself and your staff. Everyone deserves to enjoy this time of year, and that includes you.
Here are a few tips for staying relaxed at work even when it feels the world is spinning out of control all around you:
1. Use a payment processor that integrates with your POS
This won’t only make the holiday season go by more smoothly, it will also help you keep shoppers happier.
How can an integrated payment processor help you get through the holiday season?
- Your time is precious. Everything moves faster when you don’t have to enter the amount twice (in your POS and in the terminal); you reduce friction at checkout when a customer is paying with their credit or debit card and you shorten line-ups. Faster line-ups mean more customers moving through your store which quite simply means more business. These systems help your employees be more productive and get them onto other important tasks faster.
- The chance of errors is minimized drastically. Your POS takes care of capturing the transaction and saves it. Why is this valuable? It makes register reconciliation easier at the end of day and provides one centralized source of reporting. It will give you more financial visibility into your business and keep your accountants happy.
- Your customer has a much smoother experience when shopping either in-store or online. Refunding items, for example, is much simpler when you work with an integrated payment processor. You can refund a sale in a click without even having to ask the cardholder to present his card, take payments over the phone and, depending on your processor, have only one processor for online and brick-and-mortar stores.
- Transaction security is not a concern. EMV is now mandatory for North American retailers. By using a Lightspeed-integrated payment processor, you’ll receive an EMV-compatible pad which ensures your business is safe from credit card fraud and you’re following current regulation.
2. Know what you’re measuring this year
The only way to get better is to track your performance and learn where you should be improving. Set up your KPIs for the holiday season so when you’re measuring, you’ll know where you’re heading. This will not only give you peace of mind for next year but help you focus your efforts onto what really matters for your business.
3. Make sure your personal holidays are taken care of
Don’t add personal holiday worries to your professional high season. To keep yourself calm while everybody works themselves into a frenzy, make sure that your personal life is organized. You know that you’ll be busy – decorate ahead of time, get gifts ahead of time, plan any family gatherings, delegate responsibilities within your family or get some outside help (cleaning or catering) ahead of time, and — most importantly — plan to take certain days off!
4. Go omnichannel
There’s no two ways about it, if you’ve got a brick-and-mortar store and you’re not yet selling online, you’re missing out. An increasing number of customers are checking out what they want to buy online before heading out into the world of brick-and-mortar retailing, and if you’re not online, shoppers can’t find you. Implementing an omnichannel system that integrates your brick-and-mortar POS system with an eCommerce platform, will bring your store online and help you monitor both sales channel from one platform. By taking the time to set up an online shop, work on your SEO, putting up great images and working out an email marketing plan to attract customers, you’ll be ready by the time the holiday season rolls around. Taking it easy will be much easier when you have a store that operates 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
5. Don’t forget that the little stuff makes a big difference
It may seem obvious, but losing track of the little things on incredibly busy days can make the difference between a smooth experience for your customer and a small annoyance ruining the good impression. If you’re wrapping gifts, know where your supplies are and where to get more if you run out (think scissors, tape, wrapping paper, envelopes, gift cards). Plan for traffic (and remind your staff to plan for traffic), know how to deal with the music system in case something goes wrong and train your staff on this too. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable footwear for those long shifts spent on your feet and move around as much as possible to keep yourself energized. It’s these little things that can get in the way of focussing on what you’re actually trying to do.
6. Make sure your staff is on the same page
At the beginning of the season, talk to your staff to make sure everybody knows what’s expected. Increased hours, customers with high expectations and meeting quotas — the season takes a lot out of employees at every level. Your team needs to understand that they have one goal, making sales and building relationships for the future, and need to work together to achieve it, functioning as one unit, doing what’s best for your customers and for your business. A part of this includes reminding your team — and yourself! — to take breaks and not simply foregoing a pause on busy days. Taking the time necessary away from the bustle of the season is essential to keeping a good mood and being able to deal with difficulties that seemingly come out of nowhere.
7. Get some temporary additional help
If you and your staff are simply overloaded during the holidays, get some seasonal staff. This year distribution centers and warehouses are increasing the number of temp employees they’re hiring over the holiday season, while brick-and-mortar retailers are more cautious, but an extra set of hands could really help you be more efficient and give your customers the attention they need.
You may not be able to prepare for everything that comes at you this holiday season, but by planning ahead, you can lay the foundation for a smoother, calmer and—most importantly—the happier holiday season.