‘Tis the season to start preparing your business for all of your holiday customers and the hustle and bustle that comes with this joyful time of year.

As optimism in sales is rising this holiday season, small businesses anticipate business to be at its busiest, whether customers are buying online or in stores. According to a survey by Manta, 51% business owners expect a large part of their customers to directly purchase items from the store and 41% believe the majority of sales will come from online orders.

With such high expectations for the upcoming holidays, we’re offering 4 tips to get your business prepared for this year’s ambitious buyers.

1. Customer Service Comes first

A rush of customers can often cause unintentional neglect, and those on the receiving end might end up leaving unhappy, never to return. To avoid creating unhappy customers, make sure you have an adequate amount of properly trained employees during the busiest times of day. Also, it is important that your employees provide exceptional service so customers will be more willing to return, gaining you more business in the long run.

2. Make sure your website can handle the traffic

As customers increasingly depend on online shopping, internet sales mean an increase in website traffic. It is crucial that your website can handle the amount of traffic and transactions that will be processed. If your website crashes, it is unlikely online shoppers will wait until servers are running again. As a result, you will not only lose purchases but customers as well, as people are unlikely to do future shopping with your business if their holiday shopping experience was sub-par. In order to prevent this from happening, find a reliable web server and make sure to have a back up plan were your website to crash.

3. Promote your business

Consumers need to know about your business and products before they will spend their hard-earned money on them. The best way to show your customers your business is worth their money is to promote it! Social media is a powerful and free online tool that can make all the difference in your sales. Creating a Facebook Place Page can allow potential and current customers to see where you are located as well as what kind of business you do. Twitter can also help you promote special offers and give incentives to those customers who follow your business profile.

4. Shipping Details

Shipping can make or break your business during the holiday season. Customers will only order products with the guarantee that it will arrive on time, so missed deadlines can become catastrophic. It is important to let your customers know in advance the deadlines and dates for domestic and international shipping. A package that makes it there on time just might be the difference between you and your local competitor.

While many people love this time of year, we know it is very stressful for small business owners in the retail sector. Stay turned for more tips on how to continue preparing your small business for the holidays. If your small business has any tips to take on the holiday we would love for you to share them with us!

Photos by: Joe Buckingham and Nenyaki