Managing Your Brick & Mortar and Online Stores During the Holiday Frenzy

December 7, 2015


This post is contributed Square. Square creates the tools businesses need to unlock the value of every sale.

The holidays can mean a lot of things for small business owners. On the positive side: more customers, more sales, and overall cheer. On the negative: the stress that comes along with managing what’s probably your busiest time of year. And if you have both a brick-and-mortar and an online store, that can mean even more balls to juggle. Luckily, there a few things you can do to make managing your online and brick-and-mortar businesses a bit easier this holiday season. Here are some tips:

Staff up

If you’re anticipating a particularly crazy holiday season, it’s probably a good idea to get some more hands on deck. Seasonal or contract employees (read our tips on how to hire seasonal employees by the book) can help tremendously this time of year. Before you go on a hiring spree, make a list of all the things you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed with as we head into the holidays. Is it making sure your online store is updated? Managing order fulfillment? Keeping tabs on inventory? Handling the last-minute shopping rush? Being specific about your needs will focus your search — and also ensure that seasonal hires will be as effective as possible in taking things off your plate. You may find that you don’t need someone eight hours a day. Perhaps there’s a project you could hire someone to do in a few hours (updating your online store with seasonal images, for example). But whichever role you hire for, make sure you’re properly vetting people. It will save you the headache of having to spend a ton of time getting someone up to speed (you don’t want to add more to your plate, after all). For tips on hiring, read our article on how to find seasonal employees who don’t take a ton of training.

Streamline your inventory

If you sell in both a brick-and-mortar and an online store, one of the biggest challenges is managing inventory. Overselling can lead to logistical nightmares — not to mention unhappy customers. To avoid inventory mistakes when you sell the same products online and in-store, implement an inventory management system. In Square App Marketplace, you’ll find a variety of tools that can help make sure your inventory is properly reconciled across all your selling channels after you make a sale. All these solutions integrate directly with Square, so you can keep track of all your in-store and online inventory in one centralized place. You can also set up stock alerts within Square that ping you when you’re running low on a certain item.

Plan ahead with data

To minimize the holiday head spin, plan ahead. Look to last year’s data to identify when you were the busiest. If you sell with Square, all this information is available in your Dashboard. There, you can get a picture of which weeks, days, and even hours you made the most sales last year. This type of information can help you make mission critical decisions like how long to stay open and which days and times you need to staff up. You can also drill down to see which items (or category of items) you sold the most of last year in your store. You should check the same data in your e-commerce platform. If you sold a ton of scarves, for example, that’s a clear indicator that you should make sure you’re adequately stocked up on them this year. Spending some time with your data will not only better prepare you for the holiday craziness, it’ll help you be strategic across all areas of your business to maximize sales.
Managing both your online store and your brick-and-mortar shop can be a lot, especially at this time of year. But with these tips, hopefully the holidays will be smooth sailing.

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