The time of year that has an effect on every business, irrelevant of its size, industry or indeed any other factor, Christmas might seem like a fun and enjoyable period for most businesses, but it brings with it the need to plan and prepare for the holiday season.
And this includes online businesses.
As tempting as it may be to carry out no preparation whatsoever, log off your computer on Christmas Eve and don’t worry about your business until early January, this is nothing short of a recipe for disaster.
How you prepare your own online business for Christmas really does depend on your individual business, but the following information should help give you a base for your Christmas preparations.
Make sure you can meet the extra demand
If you work in an industry where you’re likely to see an increase in the sale of your products or need for your services, it’s imperative that you’ve put plans in place to ensure that you can meet the extra demand.
One of the worst things that can happen to you in the run up to Christmas is that you can’t meet the needs of your customers and clients – you might not think it’s a big issue initially, but if you haven’t got a contingency plan, the potential customers are going to head straight to your competitors.
Whether it’s buying in extra products, taking on additional staff or having a trusted colleague who you can outsource work to, be sure that you have a full plan in place that means your customers don’t need to go elsewhere.
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Give yourself realistic deadlines
Everyone knows that Christmas is a busy time of year and therefore most take this into account when looking at ordering products or services.
Therefore, don’t try and continue with your standard deadlines leading up to and during the Christmas period – it won’t be expected and you’ll do nothing but give yourself a whole load of unnecessary stress.
Give yourself an extra few days to send products out and don’t hesitate to add a week onto service based deadlines – last minute rush jobs are likely to still come in and they’ll have to be prioritized, but for standard projects, most clients will understand if you have to add an extra few days onto your normal deadline time.
Upgrade your server
As the lead up to Christmas is for many also the height of winter, online shopping very often sees quite a substantial increase and therefore if your business operates in an industry where traffic is expected to increase substantially, it’s important that you’re ready for it.
You might have the best products in the world and be fully stocked up for Christmas, but if your website crashes as soon as a few hundred people more than normal visit, all of your planning will be thrown out of the window.
Speak to your current host and see if you can upgrade your server, even temporarily. It’s likely to cost you more money, but that extra price will be well worth it if it means you can serve more customers.
Consider your advertising and promotion efforts
What you have to keep in mind at all times is that you can only handle a certain amount of customers or clients and it’s important that you never stretch yourself too much at Christmas.
Of course, every business tries to take advantage of the seasonal shopping habits, but if you stretch yourself way over your limit, you’ll not only let down a lot of customers and clients, resulting in you receiving negative feedback, but you’ll also have a poor Christmas as you’ll be stressed, disappointed in yourself and continually thinking how you’re going to revive your business in the coming year.
And it’s because of this reason why you need to strongly consider your standard advertising and promotion efforts.
You don’t necessarily have to stop them completely, but it’s important that you realise that you don’t have to do what it seems like every other business is doing and up them substantially – if you’re business is seeing a natural increase in work during the Christmas period, it doesn’t make financial sense to spend money on advertising when you don’t have the capacity to fulfill the needs of any more customers.
Christmas is a time of year that everyone needs to enjoy, including online business owners and as long as you take the time to plan and prepare yourself for the festive period, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Christmas as much as everyone else.
Note: This post was originally published on December 7, 2010 and was republished on its currently-listed publication date.