If you’re a retailer or merchant, you’re probably using this week between Christmas and New Year’s to catch your breath. And hey, we can’t blame you! It was a banner holiday shopping season for both the retail and e-commerce industries, so chances are you were quite busy up until December 25th and deserve a little bit of down time.
Keep in mind though, this isn’t a time to rest on your laurels. The show, as they say, must go on! Before you know it, the calendar will read 2011 and it will be back to business as usual. Since this week tends to be a bit more quiet than most, why not use it to catch up and get yourself ready for the year ahead? We’ve compiled some helpful tips on things you can work on this week to do just that so you’re ready to go full-force next week.
Get your House in Order: it’s easy to let the little things slide some when you’re in the midst of holiday madness. Use this time to catch up on things like payroll and bills or vendor/partner agreements and contracts for next year. Remember that tax season isn’t far off either so everything you can do now to be prepared for April 15 is a step in the right direction.
Take Inventory, and Liquidate if Necessary: look around and see what merchandise you might have remaining in high quantities after the holidays. Are there specific seasonal or holiday items that you think you can unload quickly? If so, put them on sale this week and add some serious motivation for your shoppers to snatch them up (think a “2 for 1″ deal or free shipping, etc.)
Update those Customer Lists: if you were a savvy retailer in 2010, chances are you compiled quite a few customer email addresses for your mailing list. What good is having all those emails though if you’re not going to use them? Make sure your contact lists are updated and correct before you begin sending out messages next year. Take some time to upload any emails you haven’t yet added to your list and also make sure that anyone who has opted out of your messages has been removed from your database. You don’t want to start the New Year off by violating any SPAM laws!
Plot your 2011: in that same vein, start drafting your strategy for next year as well. Two very big trends emerged in e-commerce in particular in 2010–mobile shopping and social media integration. Of the two, getting a social media presence is probably the quicker option of the two. Retailers can (and have!) easily set up Twitter accounts to broadcast specials and deals, and we’ve chronicled all of the options out there for taking your retail operation to Facebook before. If you’re not using social media, you’re losing ground to the competition so look into those options this week. Mobile commerce options will definitely cost you more but could be worthwhile next year and in the future as more and more smart phone users begin feeling comfortable about shopping with their mobile devices. Do some research on mobile commerce solutions providers and/or check out your competitors to see what, if anything, they’re doing with this very important business component.
Start Planning for the 2011 Holiday Season Now: the best ideas are the freshest ideas. Spend about an hour this week on an honest evaluation of your holiday operations this year. What worked? What didn’t work? What would you do differently? Take that evaluation and put together a little note to yourself to be reviewed again in advance of next year’s holiday shopping period, say in late October. Add some ideas you have now for what you can do next year as well. By relying on recent memory to shape your strategy next year, you can avoid repeating any mistakes that were made and also ensure that you’re prepared when the madness begins again!
Got some more merchant tips? Leave us a comment!