Checklist: six tips to get your business ready for Christmas

Florist workshop. Christmas decor. Welcoming sign. Frame with open lettering over blur festive interior.

This Christmas holiday season will be critical in the recovery of most Australian businesses. Many shops copped a battering with COVID-19 restrictions and the resultant steep economic decline.

But with restrictions easing and borders opening, things are finally looking up. Now is the time for business owners to prepare for the Christmas rush and capitalise on more promising economic conditions. With streamlined systems and processes, you can enjoy harmonious operations, increased trade and more money coming in.

By ensuring your technology is doing the heavy-lifting, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the yuletide cheer. The essential Christmas trading checklist includes:

1. One computer software program

Traditionally business owners use multiple software products to run each aspect of their business. They are likely paying excessive fees and often different systems don’t play nice with each other.

Choose one software product that will support all aspects of your business: from ordering, invoicing and payments. Ensure there is a seamless financial integration with accounting software. A good program can be tailored for particular needs. This ensures quick processes, real-time updates and less tech issues.

2. Join the e-commerce revolution

According to Australia Post, Christmas 2020 is set to break all online shopping records, with predictions surpassing anything we’ve seen. Many people will also purchase their Christmas gifts and send them directly from retailers to friends and family.

Digitise your business with a user-friendly, well-functioning online store. Choose an e-commerce site that is integrated into your business software and updates stock levels and price changes in real time. Offering online services can boost your customer base and raise your profile.

3. Use mobile checkouts

Traditionally, the Christmas rush has been synonymous with long lines of customers waiting to bag a bargain. Not only are queues stressful and frustrating, they can deter people from making a purchase.

Queue-busting virtual terminals can expand and disperse the checkout locations. App-based point of sale (POS) systems on an iPad or tablet are relatively cheap and allow for pop-up checkouts anywhere. They feature barcode scanners and tap-and-go transactions.

4. Provide postpay options

Providing customers with easy and flexible payment options is the key to boosting sales. Many millennials don’t have credit cards, so the popularity of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and pay-by-instalments has increased exponentially. Initially, postpay services came at a high cost for the business, but competition in the market has resulted in reduced fees, so shop around.

5. Consider a delivery service

Demand for delivery services spiked during the pandemic due to health concerns and home-quarantine. Many customers now prefer the convenience of delivery services and it can open your business to new markets.

Your business software should be able to integrate with multiple logistics providers so you can easily fulfil delivery orders from warehouse to door.

6. Integrate your inventory management

Take stock of your stock. Ensure your inventory management software can view, track and control your products across multiple warehouses, shops and online in real-time. You should be able to see what stock is available at the click of a button, so you never miss a sale.

Now is the time for business owners to make a list and check it twice. By investing in the right tech, staff will have more time to connect with customers, give thanks and celebrate.

There will be plenty to celebrate, too! Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said increased consumer sentiment indicated Australians are planning for a normal Christmas. This is great news for business. According to Finder, last year Australians spent a whopping $18.8 billion for Christmas – that’s a $969 average household spend.

Adrian Floate, Managing Director, Cirralto