Holiday Essentials Every Small Business Should Leverage

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The holidays bring opportunities for big profits. This year, sales are expected to increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion—significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. With the festivities in full swing, it’s not too late to secure your share of this booming market—and position yourself for increased sales for years to come.


Marketing Pays Off

Technology makes last-minute shopping incredibly convenient for customers. With just a few weeks left in this holiday season, there’s still plenty of time to make the most of it with quick and easy marketing.

Using social media to boost your brand is always a smart move. You can offer discounts on Facebook and Twitter without breaking the bank. These platforms can help you connect with your customers on a personal level, while also turning those occasional social media surfers into customers. Click here to see how other small businesses have succeeded with Facebook advertising.

A holiday-specific blog post, newsletter or email is a great way to reach your existing customers and engage new ones. Use social media to build your customer list through discounts, special offers or flash sales, requiring them to give their information to receive the deals. Give them the opportunity to opt in to emails for future offers. Sweeten the deal by offering them a 10 percent discount when they opt in.

Online advertising may cost you more than a social media campaign, but could be well worth it. Research optimal sites to buy digital ad space or consider pay-per-click campaigns with providers like Google to strategically place your advertisements for maximum impact.


Digital Gift Cards

Online gift card sales increased 10 percent from December 2013 to December 2014—proof that customers prefer both online and in-store options when searching for that perfect gift. Convenience also ranks fairly high for your customers, so giving then a digital gift card option may get you those last-minute sales leading up to January 1.

It’s not too late to take advantage of Heartland’s comprehensive gift card program this holiday season. If record-breaking sales are on your holiday wish list, click here for more information.

Gift cards and marketing are some ways that you may need to get ready for the holiday shopping season. Increased customer traffic and sales can translate into needing more employees to handle the influx, and card data security is always something to consider—especially during the holidays.


Seasonal Employees

Prepping for the holidays may also mean adding seasonal employees. If you’re new to hiring additional help, consider the following:

Labor Laws: Knowing the difference in labor laws for temporary, full-time and part-time hires, as well as contractors, is imperative. Visit this Employment and Labor Law Guide to learn more.

Benefits: You provide benefits to new hires. Seasonal employees aren’t much different. These benefits include unemployment, Social Security/Medicare and workers’ compensation. In addition to these required staple benefits, there are a few alternate ones that aren’t required by law but may be offered as additional perks to your employees (paid leave, medical insurance, etc.).


EMV and Security

There has been a lot of hype about EMV since the liability shift on October 1. If you became EMV-ready, then you’ve had a few months to notice that the process takes longer than swiping the traditional magnetic stripe. It’s getting down to the wire this holiday season, and lengthy lines can create frustrated customers, resulting in fewer sales.

Here’s how you can speed up the process:


  • Make sure your employees know how to spot an EMV card so they can guide the customer through the process quickly.

  • If your terminal is properly equipped to do so, encourage customers to use mobile payments. Android Pay and Apple Pay have EMV integration which includes the card-tapping feature—much quicker than the dip.

  • If you haven’t upgraded yet, take extra precautions to ensure you aren’t accepting fraudulent cards. Here are tips for spotting a fraudulent card and avoiding costly chargebacks.

Heartland offers solutions to help you build customer engagement, digital gift card programs, payroll and HR services and much more to get you ready for the holidays. Click here to learn more about how we can help you ramp up the holidays and set you up for success in 2016.