The most wonderful time of the year; the holiday season! The holidays start a bit earlier for business owners. Most small businesses start planning for their holiday sales during the summer – if not earlier. This means ordering additional supplies, purchasing holiday inventory (or the supplies needed to create holiday inventory), determining gift sets, collaborations, holiday promotion, plus more!

To help ease the stress of your holiday to-do list, we’ve created this for how to prepare for 2021’s holiday season to help learn more about how to best prepare.

Additional Supplies

This is first on our Small Business Holiday Manual, and possibly the most important! You’re likely making a bulk of your sales during the holidays. Therefore, you’re going to need additional supplies! It’s important to know how much inventory you currently have, and calculate how much you’re going to need when figuring how much inventory to order for the holiday season. If you don’t already use Inventora, this the perfect time to start! Not to mention, Inventora does all the math for you, so you don’t have to think too hard about the boring stuff.

If this is your first time as a business owner going through the holiday season, it’s okay to be a little modest, but definitely don’t underestimate yourself! Something you can do to help gauge the popularity of your product is to add the “pre-order” option to your website. This will help you clarify ahead of time the quantity of how much inventory to order for the holiday season. For my small business holiday veterans, you should look at your sales from the previous year to distinguish the amount of supplies you should have in your inventory this year.

Not only should you bulk order your product supplies, but also recognize that you’ll need additional shipping supplies. This means more boxes, tissue paper, bubble wrap, packing tape, etc. Consider ordering holiday themed shipping supplies to add extra flare and fun to your packages.

Holiday Promotions + Marketing

Marketing is *always* important to any business, but especially during the holidays. You’ll want to let your shoppers know the deals they’ll be getting and the money they’ll be saving! This is your time to show off a little. Create a limited time product, or discount! You want your shoppers to feel like they are getting a deal and feeling appreciated.

Make sure you’re marketing your promotions frequently and within plenty of time for your customers to shop before the holidays arrive. Some marketing tips we suggest is, posting about your sales and holiday bundles on your social media accounts, such as Instagram and Facebook, add a holiday banner to your website, and send out alerts to customers who are subscribed to your shop’s email and text lists.

Another note: make sure your website is functioning smoothly. Check the discount codes and specials offers you have running to see that they are indeed doing what they are supposed to be. 

Holiday Collaborations

A great way you can peak the interest of your holiday shoppers is collaborating with other small businesses local to your area. Reach out to other similar businesses to inquire about doing a limited time gift set together. This is a good way for both businesses to reach a new audience.

Also, considering holiday collaborations with online creators when thinking about what to plan for the holiday season. A lot of creatives do extra promotion and sponsorship during the holidays. They enjoy giving back to their community by offering discount codes and gift boxes to their followers. Contemplate picking out a handful of creators to collaborate with for the holidays. If you’ve done online collaborations before, consider working with creators who you’ve worked with before and had a positive experience.

Prepare for Delays

The holidays are the busiest time of the year… and also the slowest when it comes to receiving orders in the mail which is why it’s important to consider this while learning how to prepare for 2021’s holiday season. It’s very important to consider this when planning for the holiday season. It will be crucial to prepare your business for shipping delays not only for your own supply orders, but your customer’s orders, as well. Make sure you’ve bulk ordered your supplies in plenty of time. There *will* be delays.

When your customers order from you, it’s good to add a note either at check out, or in their receipt e-mail, that there may be shipping delays with their package. Something to help ease the mind of your shoppers is to add by each shipping speed option the estimated date to expect their order. Something you can do for business when your low on supplies and shipping is running behind, is come up with a plan B. Which leads us to our next topic…

Supply Back Up Plan

Sometimes we don’t order enough, or we are busier than expected and run through supplies quicker than anticipated. With shipping delays being expected, you should always have a backup plan for supplies when you are running out of inventory. This is good to have for the holiday season especially, but even just in your day to day business.

Check locally first. Look in your area at craft stores, boxing/shipping centers, and markets to see if they carry the kind of items you need. You may have to hit multiple stores to get the quantity you’re looking for, or even drive to the next city over. Do some research before the holidays come around to create a secondary plan for your business if things go awry.

Holiday Help

Lastly, we want to talk about how to hire holiday help. If you’re to the point where you already have a paid staff, consider adding on some part-time seasonal employees for a month or two during the busy season. If you’re not to the point where you can hire yet, there are still some alternative options for you!

Our advice at Inventora for hiring holiday help if you’re trying to cut costs is reaching out to local schools. College students are typically home, looking to make some extra cash and will do so at an affordable cost. Recognize that you’ll be making additional sales and it’s okay to justify paying for extra help to ease some of the stress off you. Some college students may even be willing to do is as part of an internship.

Also look into local private high schools. Many private high schools require their students to complete “service hours” where they help people and businesses for free in exchange for your signature stating they helped you for X number of hours. Keep in mind, you’ll want to keep the tasks fairly simple, as they might not be as precise as you would.

All in all, planning for the holiday season can be really stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. We all want more time for fun and less time for stress! If you take the time to prepare early on, you’ll have less bumps in the road and be able to take on the season with ease. What’s your best advice for small businesses on how to prepare for the 2021’s holiday season?

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