Prepare Your Retail Business for the Holiday Shopping Season

Prepare Your Retail Business for the Holiday Shopping Season

It’s getting to be that time of year already and soon the shopping season will be in full swing. Before people had even settled on an idea for a Halloween costume last month, businesses were already shifting their focus to the holidays, kicking off another madcap spending season. People may complain about “holiday creep,” but that doesn't seem to stop them from spending quite a bit this time of year. For business owners, being prepared for this season can equal profitability.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Black Friday will be here before we know it. Actually, it is now referred to as Black Fiveday because it includes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Basically, it’s a week of big upticks in consumer spending across the board. So even if you’re an online-only business without a brick-and-mortar location, we have a few tips that can help set you up for another successful holiday shopping season.

A little ‘thank you’ goes a long way and the holidays are a perfect time to say it. You can email coupons or discounts to returning customers and subscribers or offer special holiday rates.


Start early and don’t procrastinate. A huge to-do list can add extra stress and anxiety to an already hectic time. Organizational tasks will vary but can include things like updating your website, stocking up on inventory, getting invoices current and employee scheduling. Getting started now can help you preempt potential later worries and avoid future delays that could cost you time and money once the crunch hits.


eCommerce is a crucial component of holiday shopping in general, and every year the amount of money spent shopping online increases. So an updated, clean and user-friendly website with clear shipping information should be a priority. This is also a good time to make sure that the checkout process is streamlined for your customers. Run some test transactions and work out any technical problems before the holidays get too busy.


Unfortunately, the holiday shopping season is also prime time for credit card fraudsters. They know that the banks, credit card companies and payment processors are running skeleton crews during the holidays so that’s when they take advantage and hit hardest.

As a business owner, one of the most effective steps you can take to get ahead of such criminal mischief is to make sure you have strict security protocols in place. For example: have CAPTCHAs on the payment page, update your passwords and make them difficult to guess, ensure that only people who require access to payment systems — the gateway — have access, and delete former employees’ access as soon as they are terminated. Even taking just one of these added security steps could prevent fraudsters from stealing more than your holiday spirit.


Small businesses always need to crunch the numbers in order to make smart financial holiday decisions. Take a moment to look at last year’s sales and numbers: When were your busiest shopping days? How much did you earn during the previous holiday season? What kind of holiday-only expenses should you prepare for?

Once you understand your cash flow history, setting holiday sales goals should be the next step. And don’t forget to review your January sales. There will most certainly be a slump after the new year, so prepare for it now by knowing how much you will need to earn to get through any potential slowdown.


Your customers make your business thrive, so why not take this time to thank them for their contribution? A little “thank you” goes a long way and the holidays are a perfect time to say it. You can email coupons or discounts to returning customers and subscribers, or offer special holiday rates. This will establish some two-way gratitude: you are thankful they shop with you, while they are thankful for the discount and become a repeat customer. Holiday cheer at its best!


Nobody wants to be a Scrooge. Heck, not even Scrooge wanted to be a Scrooge. And he eventually learned that a little holiday ham will go a long way. Your employees are the key to your success, and they work hard for you all year round. Holiday burnout is a real thing and can be brutal in any industry. Show your employees that you realize how stressful the season is, and that you are sincerely thankful for them, by recognizing and rewarding them. This shouldn’t be an afterthought! Remember, giving is the best gift of all. Which brings us to the next tip…


There are several ways you can embrace the spirit of giving during the holiday season. One way is to dedicate a certain percentage of sales, or sales made on a certain day or during specific times, to a charitable organization of your choice. Another option is the old-fashioned method: getting out there and volunteering. There are organizations in every community that are more than happy for the help.

Small businesses are the backbone of any community; creating some feel-good vibes around the holidays will not only put your business in a favorable light, but it will also just plain make you feel good.


Last, but certainly not least, enjoy the season! Don’t forget to take some time for yourself and slow down and relax. The holiday season is special because of all the amazing things we celebrate, such as spending time with the people we love, eating great food, laughing and embracing old and new traditions. So step back and cherish all the moments that bring you joy amidst the craziness that is holiday shopping.

No matter what you need to do to prepare for the holiday rush, getting started early is the key. Come mid January, be sure to take notes on your successes and struggles this season to help you plan for next year. Happy holidays!

Jonathan Corona has two decades of experience in the electronic payments processing industry. As chief operating officer of MobiusPay, Corona is primarily responsible for day-to-day operations as well as reviewing and advising merchants on a multitude of compliance standards mandated by the card associations, including, but not limited to, maintaining a working knowledge of BRAM guidelines and chargeback compliance rules defined in both Visa and Mastercard operating regulations.


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