By Kimberly Green-Kerr, UScellular Business Solutions and Operations Leader
In very welcome news for ecommerce and brick-and-mortar small businesses, many Americans are eager to spend their money during this holiday shopping season.
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According to a recent report from Deloitte, holiday retail sales are expected to increase by up to 9% from November through January, on top of the unexpected 5.8% growth in 2020 when the pandemic was at its height.
That news should prompt small business owners and managers everywhere to ask these questions: Are we ready for the holiday shopping bonanza? And if not, what can we do to capitalize on it?
The answers, of course, will vary according to the challenges faced by the individual business. But based on my experience, helping small businesses become more productive and competitive. There is a suite of mobile technology solutions they should consider to make sure Holiday ’21 is a boon for them.
Mobile technology can help small businesses with day-to-day tasks like administration, communications, and processes through automation. It also provides access to websites and social media, allowing small businesses to compete on a global scale through marketing, promotion, and advertising.
Five Tips to Prepare Your Business for the Holiday Season
1- Maximize Mobility
It’s crucial that business internet connections stay running during the busiest selling season of the year. Products like Simplifi offer internet connectivity along with a failover cellular built-in backup if Wi-Fi goes down.
2- Strengthen Your Social
Small businesses can forge strong engagement with retail customers using social media, as nearly a third of U.S. adults regularly use these communications platforms, according to Pew Research Center. But it doesn’t require a massive budget to bring social into your marketing mix; just creativity, know-how, and the right technology.
Buffer is an effective smartphone app, helping busy owners or managers schedule and plan social media campaigns. Intuitive and affordable, Buffer is a one-stop-shop for planning, scheduling, monitoring, and adjusting social media marketing campaigns.
3- Amplify with Email
Another important tip that can help you prepare your business for the holiday season is leveraging email marketing. While social media marketing has grown in popularity over the last decade, don’t forget email. About half of U.S. consumers say they enjoy getting emails from their favorite stores or brands.
And, as with social media, it offers a cost-effective method for reaching customers or prospects with the information they desire – especially anything that includes the words “discount” or “sales.” You can also easily track the effectiveness of email marketing by including an exclusive code in your offers that will be reflected in sales totals.
4- Manage Inventory from Anywhere
With a reliable wireless network, business owners can conveniently track their inventory from a smartphone app. A good option is DoForms, an inventory management solution that gives real-time data so managers can make prompt restocking decisions. Plus, it links seamlessly to accounting programs, such as QuickBooks.
Faster wireless networks also mean software-as-a-service (SaaS) products will be more effective. These cloud-based programs and apps include everything from email to office tools (such as Microsoft Office 365), customer retention management to human resource tools, inventory control to file sharing, and so much more.
If your business also manages a fleet, you can save time and money with the right fleet management software. This software application allows companies to track their vehicles, conduct mechanical diagnostics, monitor driver safety, optimize routes and secure their fleet.
From increasing fuel efficiency to reducing accidents to more efficient customer deliveries, a fleet management system can help a small business thrive.
5- Safety First
Finally, the last important business preparation tip for the holiday season is financial management. Your investment in advanced networks and technology won’t bear fruit if you’re the victim of cybercriminals. Upgrade your mobile device management (MDM) software.
This way all data, financial information, and private customer and employee information are fully protected against malware and other threats. One of the best MDM systems is IBM’s Security MaaS360. It provides businesses peace of mind when employees and others use your network.
While the holiday season is underway, it’s not too late to implement some of these changes and upgrades to help set yourself up for a slice of the holiday shopping pie – and establish your business for success in the new year.
Kimberly Green-Kerr is senior vice president of enterprise sales and operations for UScellular. This is the fourth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States. She and her team support local small businesses by offering expert advice about technology, devices, and mobile solutions that can help businesses compete.
Smart Hustle Resources:
The Impact of Social Media on Your Business This Holiday Season
8 Power Tips To Increase Holiday Sales
3 Ways to Manage Inventory During the Holidays