Christmas Chaos: Tips to Prepare your Retail Business for the Festive Season

Christmas is upon us again already. For those businesses in retail and those who do a sizable chunk of their revenue in the run up to Santa making an appearance, there’s all sorts of preparations already well in place.

But for anyone feeling a little behind in their preparations, here are some must do tasks to prepare for the busiest time of the year.

Speak to Your Suppliers Well in Advance

Stock is everything. So be sure to take a really good look at what you need. Use data. If you were trading last Christmas then you already have last season’s numbers about what happened and when and you can look at your year on year performance to date to get an idea as to how much you expect to need to fulfil and therefore how much stock you need. Order as early as possible.

But your suppliers are not limited only to the people you buy stock from. Consider your courier and delivery services and anybody else whose services you rely on to fulfil your orders.

For Simon Stirling, Managing Director at Direct2Florist, this means liaising with lots of independent florists in the run up. He tells us:

“Our business model means that our flower orders are put together and delivered by independent florists up and down the country. We’ve got systems in place that handle the smooth running of this. But it’s important to us that we’re also giving our florists and advanced heads up about what we expect to be the biggest sellers, checking their final delivery dates and times and giving them a notably advanced preview of our Christmas catalogue.

Two way communication because us and the florists we work with is absolutely vital and at no time is that more important than ahead of big flower giving occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day.”

Notify Your Customers of Delivery Deadlines

Well in advance, you should sign post your final order dates and deadlines on your website if you take any orders online at all. Be incredibly clear about this because, from your customers’ perspective, it’s incredibly disappointing to find a gift you ordered didn’t make it in time for the big day. This will help manage any disappointment.

It’s worth also being clear about whether orders made between Christmas and New Year will be fulfilled as normal or whether your business will close for a few days over the festive break.

Plan Staffing Well in Advance

One of the toughest tasks in retail is staffing over the busy season. It doesn’t just apply to stores either. Online retailers need extra hands fulfilling orders to ensure your same high standard of processing and delivery times can be achieved during busy times.

Whether you need temporary staff or need to simply plan your existing staff’s rotas around the enhanced order volumes, the earlier you can do this the better. Nobody likes being asked to work extra hours at the drop of a hat in the run up to Christmas when they’d rather be spending time with family and friends.

The earlier the better!

Want Orders Early? Consider Incentivising

For many retailers, being able to more evenly spread orders out in the run up to Christmas (rather than huge volume in the last couple of weeks) is one way to keep the pressures a little lower.

Consider incentivising early bird shopping with things like:

  • Early shopping discounts

  • Excellent Black Friday deals

  • Ad campaigns highlighting discounts for early shoppers

If you want people to shop early, promote the benefits of doing so.

And Don’t Forget to Review it in January?

And when all the chaos is over, don’t forget to take time in the New Year to review it all and look at what went right, what could’ve been better and what you’d do differently next year. Keep those notes for when you start preparing for Christmas 2024.

Good luck!