Is your small business summer ready?

Are you ready for summer selling season?
Peak time means peak processing for payments. Here are tips to get you ready!

It’s never too early to begin preparing for peak shopping season, and summer will be here before you know it. In the spirit of increased sales, following are a handful of tips—or reminders—to help you get ready.

Holidays to Remember
You don’t have to be in the business of selling beachwear, cameras, hats, and sunglasses to benefit from the summer selling season. For most businesses, summer tourist season and major holidays are an opportunity to boost sales, and there of plenty of ways to boost sales between now and fall. Better yet, 2018 as a whole is expected to be a good year for retailers. According to Kiplinger.com, “sales, excluding gasoline, will grow 4.6%—better than 2017’s 4.2% pace.”1

The month of May is highlighted by Mother’s Day (May 13), National Teacher Day (May 8) and Memorial Day (May 28). May and June are also filled with graduation celebrations, religious celebrations and the kickoff of wedding season, which runs through the end of July.

Other notable holidays are Father’s Day (June 17), as well as the Fourth of July. August brings back-to-school season, followed shortly by Labor Day and the arrival of fall. Take a step back and consider the opportunities presented to your business during the peak selling days of summer.

Gift cards as incentives
As noted by Incentive Gift Cards Continue to Delight in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of SMM (Sales & Marketing Management), research from the Incentive Gift Card Council and Incentive Research Foundation shows that 61 percent of U.S. businesses are using gift cards as a reward tool, “and that investment in gift card rewards is both significant and growing.” The article also notes that “62 percent of consumers say they would like to receive a gift card—making gift cards the most requested item eight years in a row.”

Consider both closed-loop branded gift cards (associated with an individual branded business), as well as open-loop prepaid cards by the likes of Mastercard® or Visa®, which can be used wherever credit and debit cards are accepted.

Brick-and-Mortar
If your business has a physical location, the best thing you can do to maximize sales is to look at what worked for you in the past. You can learn a lot from history, so review which products and services sold best last year, as well as which marketing efforts worked best—and which didn’t. Review your inventory, staff and customer support to satisfy the influx of customers.

Keep in mind, that you can eliminate lines at the checkout counter by integrating mobile point-of-sale technology (mPOS) and accepting payments on mobile devices like tablets. As noted in a recent post Calming Customer Holiday Hysteria, mPOS solutions allow you to “ring up” customers from anywhere in the store, which helps encourage impulse purchases and “prevents customers from abandoning their (physical) shopping carts due to long checkout lines.”

Also, if your point-of-sale system is not yet EMV® chip ready, it’s time to learn about how and why you should be EMV-compliant. Chip-card terminals hold a number of advantages, as they reduce your risk of financial liability and help protect you—and your customers—from fraudulent transactions.

E-Commerce
Of course, if your business has an e-commerce presence, it almost goes without saying that shoppers expect a seamless online shopping experience. Pay particular attention to page speed and site performance. Not only is speed a ranking factor for the search engines, consumers expect shopping sites to be fast.

As noted in Shopify’s article 15 Ways to Improve E-commerce Site Performance For Faster Page Speed and Better Sales, “on average in 2017, global retail websites … were visually complete and ready to use within 2.5 seconds,” with Harry Shum, head of AI at Microsoft adding that “two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web.”

Also, if you offer free shipping on purchases over a certain amount, highlight the fact to customers. If you have the resources, give your site a summer feel by adding season-specific elements—perhaps even a summer-themed version of your company logo. You can also consider offering time-sensitive discount codes tied to particular products or promotions.

E-Marketing
At the same time, it’s vital to ensure your site is getting found by potential customers. At this point, it’s imperative that you have a mobile-friendly website. According to MarketingProfs.com, “57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site” and “61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.”2

E-mail marketing campaigns also continue to be very effective and economical. Keep in mind the following stat, courtesy of WordStream, which notes that “Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those who don’t receive email offers.”3

It’s also worth considering text message marketing campaigns and video marketing, both of which are increasingly popular. As noted by Biteable, “Video marketing is one of the most popular tactics for online marketers today,” hardly a surprise considering that “video is more engaging, more memorable, and more popular among consumers than any other type of content.”4

Of course, search engine optimization still remains a critical factor in terms of the visibility of your site. Consider utilizing content marketing—including blog posts—as part of your marketing strategy, as high-quality written content has great potential to drive leads, build your brand and improve your SEO rankings, all at the same time.

Christmas 2018
Last but not least, it’s never too early to begin planning for the 2018 Christmas shopping season. It may be hard to believe, but according to Google Trends, in 2017 consumers started searching for “Christmas gift items” in mid-August.

Source: http://www.tsys.com/news-innovation/whats-new/Articles-and-Blogs/Industry-Insights/Merchant/2018/summer-selling-season-tips-for-getting-ready.aspx

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