Holiday Tips for Retail Procrastinators

As appeared in the Presence Pointers column of the December 2007 issue of “Business Watch” magazine.

Each year, the web plays a bigger and bigger role during the holiday season. How this impacts your business may vary, depending first and foremost whether you sell directly online or not, but also whether your customers are locally based. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the web is only important if you sell online or have customers all over the state, country, or throughout the world.

Hopefully you implemented some of the local-focused tips from back in July. If not, it isn’t too late to take action, however the kind of action you take, or don’t take, is very important. If the holiday season represents a sizable portion of your annual sales, now is certainly not the time for redesigning, re-launching, or just about anything else you can think of that begins with “re” in regards to your website. The risks are far too great.

So what can you do? First, it’s important that potential customers can reach out and contact you. Making sure that your phone, address, and even email information is correct and easily found on your website is critical, yet so easily forgotten. Do you have a contact form that allows visitors to submit a message or questions? When was the last time you tested it to make sure it works? Whose email does the form send questions too? You don’t want to find out after the holiday season that those emails are handled by one person in customer service—who incidentally went skiing in Colorado for two weeks over the holiday.

Do you operate a physical store or have a location that serves customers directly? When it comes to the holiday season, life gets hectic and people get busy. Help ease some of the burden and your customers will thank you. Be sure that your store hours, especially since they may be extended for the holidays, are listed on your site. And then be sure to leave them up and up-to-date throughout the rest of the year as well… your customers will continue to thank you.

Don’t just wait for customers to beat a path to your door, help them find the best one. Including a map to your location can be extremely helpful during the holiday season when you may be serving customers who aren’t as familiar with your location. Better yet, the major search engines allow you to add their mapping to your site by embedding some code—simple copy and paste action—that allows your customers to interact with the map to get driving directions just by entering in their location.

Be sure that your web address is on any other advertising you do during the holidays. Don’t assume that people will naturally find your website or even realize that you have one. Best of all, adding your web address to TV and radio spots, newspaper ads, and any outdoor advertising increases the potential return from that advertising.

So while the holiday season may be at full steam, there are still some low risk opportunities that might help deliver a few more customers to your checkout… on or offline.

Holiday Gift Tip List

If you put off making major changes or improvements to your website earlier in the year, now probably isn’t the time either. But these simple tips may give you a little extra boost when you need it.

  • Don’t make major changes to a website during peak season.
  • Double check all contact information and any contact forms.
  • Post your holiday hours.
  • Add a map or interactive map for your location.
  • Don’t forget to incorporate your website address into any advertising.